June 29, 2017Nineteen physicians were honored June 17 at the 42nd annual graduation ceremony of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency and Fellowships. The College of Community Health Sciences provides graduate medical education through both the three-year Family Medicine Residency and year-long fellowships for family medicine physicians seeking additional training in behavioral health, emergency medicine, geriatrics, hospitalist medicine, obstetrics, rural public psychiatry and sports medicine. “Today is about celebrating excellence,” said residency Director Dr. Richard Friend, who welcomed graduates and their family and friends to the ceremony held at the Zone-South at Bryant Denny Stadium on the UA campus. “There is a lot to be proud of today.” The graduating residents and fellows will soon begin their own practices in Alabama and other states, or will go on to complete fellowship programs. To date, the UA Family Medicine Residency has graduated 478 family medicine physicians, and just over half practice in 48 of the state’s 67 counties, the majority in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas. “Our College was founded because of a crisis – a need for family medicine docs all around Alabama,” said Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of CCHS. “And there is still a need. There are still not enough family docs, and rural areas are still underserved.” Dr. Dwight Hooper, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Florida State University College of Medicine and former professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at CCHS who taught many of the residents, was a guest speaker at the ceremony. He told residents that he hoped he provided them with life lessons. “When I look out at you, I see well trained, highly intelligent residents. Perhaps I had something to do with you learning to be a better you,” he said. Dr. Jennifer Greer, UA’s associate vice provost for Administration, thanked the graduating residents and the fellows “for the difference you’ve made in our community while you were here. Every time you go to work, you will change someone’s life that day. That is an amazing thing.” Added Dr. Robin Wilson, chief medical officer of DCH Regional Medical Center, a residency partner: “I’ve seen the tremendous impact of this program at DCH, on our patient care. You have a bright future ahead of you.” Awards were given to many of the graduating residents.