July 8, 2020
Twenty-three physicians were honored June 28 at the 45th annual graduation ceremony of The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency Program and Fellowships.
Because of Covid-19, the graduation ceremony was held via Zoom.
The College of Community Health Sciences provides graduate and post-graduate medical education through both the three-year Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency Program and year-long fellowships for family medicine physicians seeking additional training in behavioral health, emergency medicine, geriatrics, hospital medicine, obstetrics, rural public psychiatry, pediatrics and sports medicine.
The 15 graduating residents and eight fellows will begin their own practices in Alabama and other states or go on to fellowship programs. To date, the Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency Program has graduated 524 family medicine physicians.
“You worked very hard to reach this day,” said residency Director Dr. Tamer Elsayed, who welcomed graduates and their families and friends to the virtual ceremony. “You leave residency as this pandemic is surging, but you are prepared. You have definitely reached your potential.”
He presented all graduates with the 2019-2020 Resiliency Award “in recognition for demonstrating courage, dedication, volunteerism, perseverance, resolve, compassion and professionalism while working the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Dr. Richard Friend, dean of CCHS, former residency director and a family medicine physician, echoed that sentiment. “You have all weathered a storm since mid-March and you all rose to the occasion,” he said.
Friend said he was drawn to the specialty of family medicine, much like the graduates, “to help others and to put service before self. This class is no exception. Now, more than ever, it is critical to serve our communities. Our duties as family medicine physicians are to deliver evidenced-based medicine but also hope to our patients. You worked tirelessly, were patient and kind, and you have learned that these skills will serve you well.”
Dr. Brittney Anderson, assistant professor of family, internal, and rural medicine at the College and an alumna of the residency, was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony. She practices primarily at UMC’s Demopolis location and also teaches residents and medical students.
“Today, I’m thinking about how unique your graduation is, in the midst of a pandemic and social unrest – important issues that will affect your career,” Anderson said.
She said family medicine physicians, including the graduates, are community leaders. “People will listen to what you say, watch what you do, and they will follow your lead. Make sure you’re always on the upside of right, whether that’s encouraging the wearing of face masks and social distancing and ensuring that you treat your patients fairly and justly regardless of their skin color and social status.”
Anderson also shared three “themes” with graduates:
Graduating residents also made brief comments.
“It’s going to be tough leaving Tuscaloosa,” said Dr. Anthony Johnson. “I appreciate all the time you (faculty) took with us, standing by our sides and helping us become the doctors we are today.”
“Thank you for contributing to our growth and development as family medicine physicians,” said Dr. Dominique’ Crain. “Not only did you contribute to us professionally, but also to us as individuals.”
In closing, Elsayed provided graduates with this advice: “Continue to work hard. I know you will make an incredible impact on those you care for. Be kind to yourselves, your patients and those around you. Don’t forget to have fun, which is hard in this time of isolation. Continue to explore your interests, connect with friends, family and loved ones and live your lives to the fullest.”