Take a look back at some of the major happenings at the College of Community Health Sciences at The University of Alabama in 2015.
RESIDENCY CELEBRATES 40 YEARS
A reunion weekend was held in November to celebrate 40 years of CCHS’s Family Medicine Residency, and graduates gathered to reconnect, recognize the history of the Residency and learn about its current impact on Alabama and the Southeast. The Residency is one of the oldest and largest family medicine residencies in the United States, graduating 450 family physicians to date. One in seven family physicians practicing in Alabama graduated from the Residency, and 77 percent of alumni practice in a primary care physician shortage area. The CCHS mission is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities, and one way it accomplishes that mission is by addressing the physician workforce needs of Alabama and the region with a focus on comprehensive family medicine training.
Innovative program pairs medical students with local physicians
Some third-year medical students receiving their clinical education at CCHS, a regional campus of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, are pairing with community physicians as part of an innovative education program that promotes deeper connections with patients and stronger student-teacher relationships. Through the Tuscaloosa Longitudinal Community Curriculum, the students work with a community physician, following patients throughout the diagnosis or disease, and covering specialty areas continuously and often simultaneously. For example, a student may gain competency in obstetrics during a pregnant patient’s visit, help deliver the baby, follow the newborn and see the new mother for follow-up visits. Under the traditional model of medical education, third-year medical students receive clinical education in rotations that consist of weeks-long rotation through each specialty individually.
CCHS created a Culinary Medicine elective that will be offered beginning in 2016 in partnership with the College of Human and Environmental Sciences. Through lectures and hands-on cooking classes, medical students, family medicine residents and nutrition students will learn how to better educate patients about their diets, especially when addressing chronic disease management and obesity. The elective models the Tulane University Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine curriculum. “Addressing lifestyle issues in order to improve health is fundamental to what we do in primary care in the nation,” says Dr. Richard Streiffer, CCHS dean. By 2030, obesity is expected to surpass tobacco as the leading cause of cancer.
Rural Medical Scholars welcomes 20th class
The CCHS Rural Medical Scholars Program celebrated a milestone, welcoming the 20th class. The College works to address the shortage of primary care physicians in Alabama through the program, which is exclusively for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities. The Rural Medical Scholars program includes a year of study after students receive their undergraduate degree, which leads to a master’s degree in Rural Community Health and early admission to the University of Alabama School of Medicine. The Rural Medical Scholars program is part of a CCHS pipeline of rural programs that has been nationally recognized and that serves as a model for similar program.
Clinical practice expanded
University Medical Center now provides care at two locations – its main location on The University of Alabama campus and now in Northport, Ala. UMC-Northport provides comprehensive, patient-centered health services in family medicine, obstetrics and psychology. UMC and UMC-Northport are operated by CCHS, and Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College, says the opening the Northport location was part of efforts to address a shortage of primary care physicians. “We know primary care and family medicine and the training we undertake are key to a healthcare system that is not only more effective, but more accessible and more prevention-oriented and, ultimately, results in improved population health, which is the mission of the College.”
Asthma education provided via telemedicine
CCHS launched a school-based asthma education program, conducted via telemedicine, at Greensboro Elementary School in Hale County, Ala. About 50 students participate in the classes and learn about asthma symptoms, medications and treatments. Teachers and school support staff have also received instruction about the signs and symptoms of asthma, the impact it can have on learning and how to control asthma and manage an attack. The first school-based asthma education program offered via telemedicine by CCHS was in 2014 in DeKalb County, Ala. The College has provided other specialty health care via telemedicine across the state for a number of years, including: telepsychiatry services to West Alabama Mental Health Center, with sites in Marengo, Choctaw, Greene, Hale and Sumter counties; and diabetes education in Sumter, Pickens and Clarke counties.
More than 8,000 vaccines given in flu shot campaign
For the fourth consecutive year, CCHS led the effort to vaccinate The University of Alabama community against the flu. The flu shot campaign began in September and continued into November, and approximately 8,600 shots were given to faculty, staff and students. The shots were provided at no charge, and insurance was not required. Flu shots were available at sites across campus, including the Quad, University buildings and student residence halls, and at UA’s Student Health Fair and Employee Health Fair. Vaccines were administered by nurses from University Medical Center, which CCHS operates, and UA’s Student Health Center and Capstone College of Nursing. WellBAMA also participated.
CCHS premiers Brussels Sprout Challenge
The College partnered with Manna Grocery and Deli in Tuscaloosa to premier the first-ever Brussels Sprout Challenge at the American Heart Association’s West Alabama Heart Walk. More than 800 Brussels sprouts were served during the walk. To complete the challenge, walkers ate four Brussels sprouts during the walk – one at each mile of the three-mile walk and one at the finish line. The idea for the Brussels Sprout Challenge originated with CCHS Dean Dr. Richard Streiffer as a counter to the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Tuscaloosa. The idea was to offer a similar challenge but to promote healthy eating and lifestyles. “Lots of people who may have been introduced to the mighty cruciferous vegetable family are happy and healthier,” Streiffer said. CCHS plans to host the challenge at the 2016 Heart Walk.
Learning by serving
About 40 first-year students at the University of Alabama School of Medicine who will receive their third- and fourth-years of clinical education at CCHS spent a day in Tuscaloosa learning about the College and participating in community service. CCHS serves as a regional campus to the School of Medicine for medical student education. The community service involved working with Druid City Garden Project (DCGP). To help DCGP launch its Gardens 2 Schools program at Central Elementary in Tuscaloosa, medical students built a wash station, benches for an outdoor classroom and a storage shed to house gardening tools. DCGP will work with the school to plant gardens and teach students about nutrition and growing their own fruits and vegetables. “Our main goal is to grow foods kids get to taste. This is preventive medicine,” says Joya Elmore, DCGP education coordinator. Adds DCGP executive director Lindsay Turner: “It’s critical to tackle childhood obesity at an early age.”
Learning by growing
As childhood obesity continues its upward trend, so, too, has the advent of school gardens. Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, a psychologist and associate professor in the College’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, is researching the impact school gardens have on students, both from a health and educational perspective. Boxmeyer says her study’s empirical findings showed “by far the strongest and most consistent effects are on the child’s willingness to eat vegetables. We heard a lot of stories from parents to back it up – ‘My child would absolutely not eat a green vegetable before having the garden at their school, and now they’ll eat things that they’ve had a hand in growing.’”