Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dr. Timothy Gilbert Named Assistant Dean of COM Accreditation and Planning

Dr. Timothy Gilbert recently was named assistant dean of accreditation and planning at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

In his new position, Dr. Gilbert will oversee the continuous quality improvement relevant to accreditation of educational programs in the USA College of Medicine. He will maintain current documentation relevant to accreditation, monitor compliance with accreditation standards and analyze trends and outcomes of key metrics related to accreditation.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Gilbert to the USA College of Medicine.  He is a seasoned administrator who has a wealth of knowledge and experiences in education and academic medicine,” said Dr. John V. Marymont, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine. “In this new position, Dr. Gilbert will work with leadership throughout our organization to improve and maximize our planning processes with the ultimate goal of providing ongoing data to support quality improvement efforts.”

Dr. Gilbert previously served as director of quality enhancement plan and faculty development at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, La. From 2011 to 2013 he served as simulation coordinator at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. From 2009 to 2011, he served as director of special projects at Comprehensive Neurosurgery in Shreveport, La.

Prior to serving in higher education development and health care, Dr. Gilbert worked as a teacher and then principal for 20 years. He was selected as the Louisiana Principal of the Year in 1996.

Dr. Gilbert earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree of arts in social studies education at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La. In 1999, he earned his Ed.D. in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Dr. Gilbert currently serves on the Association of Standardized Patient Educators. He is certified as a consultant and visiting committee chair for the Southern Association of College and Schools and has been a consultant to schools and districts at the local, state and national levels.

Dr. Gilbert and his wife, Marie -- a retired college administrator -- enjoy outdoor activities, family and time spent with their four dogs.

USA Family Medicine Presents Poster at Conference

Dr. Carol Motley, associate professor of family medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently presented a poster at the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine annual conference with Dr. Jennifer Styron, assistant professor of community and mental health at USA, and Dr. Robin Risling-de Jong, assistant professor of physician assistant (PA) studies at USA.

The poster presentation, titled “Collaborating with the Wellness Homeless Center to Develop a Multidisciplinary Educational Experience,” showcased the efforts of the family medicine department at USA, which participated in a program focused on developing inter-professional care for patients at a local homeless shelter in Mobile, Ala. Those who participated in the program for a year were later recognized as inter-professional fellows  in a ceremony coordinated through an inter-professional collaborative practice initiative started by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to the College of Nursing.

The inter-professional program involved medical, PA and nursing students working within teams to make a greater impact on patient outcomes, as well as team-based learning exercises to encourage open communication among medical professionals who may feel that barriers such as professional hierarchy affect how they work with one another.

“We tend to be fairly isolated among our certain professional groups. In the future -- with the way things are moving -- we will work in teams,” Dr. Motley said. “To be able to work side-by-side, knowing what the other person does will facilitate better teamwork in the future, which will ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

During the program, students worked together to excel in responsibilities and roles that the core competencies of inter-professional practice teach. Those core competencies include inter-professional communication, values, ethics and teamwork.

Students participating in the program found that they were able to better appreciate diversity in the community, while they also gained better respect for their fellow medical professionals.

“One of the interesting things students said several times was that they learned how to not talk over one another but instead to listen and communicate with respect,” Dr. Motley said.

Dr. Motley hopes to bring more inter-professional programs to the USA College of Medicine in the future. “There are some ongoing things happening between the nursing school and the PA program, and we were proud to teach teamwork and respect to the students,” she said.

Mammography Moves to Strada Patient Care Center

The USA Children’s & Women’s Breast Care and Mammography Center recently moved into the Strada Patient Care Center, providing a more efficient imaging experience for women.

“All of the familiar and great features of our practice are still intact, including two of the only fellowship-trained radiologists in town, our friendly skilled technologists and same-day results,” said Dr. Joel Lightner, assistant professor of radiology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and director of breast imaging at USA. “With the move to our new facility we have added a beautiful outpatient setting, new equipment and the convenience of having all breast care services in the same building.”

According to Dr. Lynn Dyess, professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine and a breast and endocrine surgeon with USA Physicians Group, the office enhances communication between radiologists and surgeons regarding individual patients.“I can review the images with radiology when the patient is in my clinic,” she said. “This allows for better planning and development of patient planning treatments.”

The center uses a Genius digital mammography system that is capable of detecting breast cancer earlier and in more women. “Breast tomosynthesis is a new technology that is used for breast cancer screening and diagnosis,” said Eduardo Rel, technical director of radiology at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital. “It produces a 3-D image that allows the radiologist to see further into the breast compared to a 2-D image. The radiologist is able to screen the breast layer-by-layer in 3-D detail.”

Since dense breast tissue can create additional detection challenges, the Genius 3-D mammography exam is now the only mammogram that is FDA-approved as superior for dense breasts — detecting 20 to 65 percent of more invasive breast cancers when compared to 2-D alone.

Rel said both breast and plastic surgeons are now conveniently located next door to mammography, allowing the physicians to walk into the mammography reading room and discuss any case with the radiologist regarding patient care.

“For us — the breast cancer team — the benefit is increased direct communication between team members with the result of faster and better tailored management decisions,” Dr. Lightner said. “By upgrading to the Strada Patient Care Center, not only have we improved the overall patient experience, but we have also significantly improved our ability to efficiently and effectively treat patients with breast cancer.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

Class of 2019 Students Cloaked with White Coats

University of South Alabama cardiologist Dr. Bassam Omar helps his son Mazen with his white coat during the USA College of Medicine's White Coat Ceremony on June 17, 2017. During the ceremony, rising third-year medical students in the Class of 2019 are cloaked with their first white coats, the traditional dress of physicians for more than 100 years.
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine held its annual White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2019 on Saturday, June 17, 2017. During the ceremony, rising third-year medical students were cloaked with white coats, the traditional dress of physicians for more than 100 years.

Several students in the Class of 2019 were celebrating the day alongside their parents who are members of the USA College of Medicine faculty. These faculty members -- Drs. Bassam Omar, Troy Stevens, Botros Rizk, Kelly Roveda and Carol Motley -- presented white coats to the students at the ceremony.

USA medical student Mazen Omar said his father, Dr. Bassam Omar, has provided to him a true example of what a physician should be. “I feel like by being a part of the ceremony he is giving me a chance to follow in his footsteps and one day be an example to others, too,” Mazen said.

Mazen considered medicine as a career path in high school, and began volunteering at USA Medical Center. He chose to study medicine at USA due to small class sizes and the hands-on learning experience that USA offers. To him, putting on the white coat symbolizes responsibility that a physician has to his or her patients and to the community. “Wearing the white coat is a constant reminder of the responsibility of making sure your words and actions are credible because many people are depending on you and looking up to you,” he said.

Dr. Bassam Omar, professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine and a cardiologist with USA Physicians Group, said, “the white coat is perceived as a symbol of authority and professionalism, and therefore, with wearing it comes immense responsibility and honesty as to live up to its expectations.”

“I am proud of Mazen and every student who received their white coat during this astounding event. I congratulate them and their families and friends on such an admirable achievement,” Dr. Omar said.

Trevor Stevens, son of Dr. Troy Stevens, director of the USA Center for Lung Biology and Lenoir Louise Locke Chair of Physiology and Cell Biology, has learned continuously from his father’s advice and perspective on life. Trevor said he believes that excelling in medical school is the best way to honor his father. “I always thought that there is no greater way to honor someone or to tell them you love them than to be the best you can be every day,” he said.

After realizing his passion for service to others and for the sciences at a young age, Trevor decided to pursue his medical degree at USA in order to stay close to his community of Spanish Fort, Ala. He is grateful for his peers in the Class of 2019. “While I am extremely grateful that my father is a part of the ceremony, I also hope the ceremony may be used as a way for all of us to show our families the impact they have had on our lives, and that it is only the beginning of a commitment to being the best we can be,” he said.

David Roveda said he enjoys the bond that he shares for serving in medicine with his mother, Dr. Kelly Roveda, assistant dean of medical education and student affairs and assistant professor of pathology at USA. The White Coat Ceremony is a reminder to him of why he chose to serve in medicine and the goals he hopes to achieve. “The white coat instills a level of confidence and trust from your patient that should be both humbling and an honor to wear each day,” he said.

David grew up witnessing his mother practice medicine, but did not become interested in a career in the field until he spent a summer working with a local cardiologist in his hometown of Mobile, Ala. He chose to attend the USA College of Medicine after touring the campus and meeting instructors and students. He feels that USA has instilled in him the responsibilities that come with wearing the white coat. “At the end of my first two years at USA, I feel not only excited but truly prepared to put on the white coat and begin working with patients,” he said.

During the ceremony, 76 students in unison took the Medical Student Oath, a promise to uphold the human aspects of medicine, such as sensitivity, compassion and respect for patients.

Select rising seniors from the class of 2018, as well as residents and faculty, were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society at the ceremony. Inductees are selected for practicing patient-centered medical care with integrity, compassion and altruism. Election to this organization is by vote of medical students.

Each year, the USA Medical Alumni Association sponsors this event.

Click here to view more photos.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

USA Medical Student Benjamin McCormick Receives AOA Research Fellowship

Benjamin McCormick, a rising second-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently received the Alpha Omega Alpha 2017 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship.

The $5,000 award provides research support for medical students to conduct research via clinical investigation, basic laboratory work, epidemiology, social sciences, health services, leadership or professionalism.

McCormick will be conducting his clinical investigation at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn., in the division of hematology and oncology. Dr. Bipin N. Savani, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University and director of the Long-Term Stem Cell Transplant Clinic, will serve as his primary mentor.

His research will explore the effects of matching a donor and recipient’s blood types on stem cell transplant success using various outcome parameters. Each day, McCormick and Dr. Savani will collect patient information for analysis from the Long-Term Stem Cell Transplant Clinic, as well as assemble information collected from previous patients. “I will then use various statistical methods to determine the specific outcome determinants for the population under study,” McCormick said. “These results will be presented at weekly group meetings and will culminate in me writing a manuscript for publication.”

According to McCormick, there are no large studies comparing outcomes for ABO mismatch in hematopoietic stem cell transplants. “Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or bone marrow transplantation, is a common treatment option for leukemia, lymphomas and other immunological disorders,” he said. “My research is important because the results of this study will provide information for transplant physicians to improve survival and graft outcomes in their patients. It is proposed that major mismatches may predispose patients to graft failure.”

Although he has a master’s degree in chemistry and an extensive background in basic science research, McCormick said this will be his first exposure to clinically based medical research. He credits the extensive coverage of hematologic malignancies in the first-year curriculum and the weekly patient encounters through the clinical skills program at the USA College of Medicine for preparing him for this project.

“This will be an incredible opportunity for me to explore the realm of clinical research and potential career interests,” McCormick said. “I have been interested in hematology and oncology for many years after witnessing my father’s struggle with cancer, and Dr. Savani was one of his most impactful doctors. I look forward to exploring the field of stem cell transplant research from an academic research perspective and learning how patient outcome data and patient-doctor interactions impact future medical treatment.”

Each medical school with an AOA chapter can nominate one first-, second-, or third-year medical student for the fellowship. Each year, AOA allocates funds for about 50 awards. The name of the fellowship program honors Carolyn L. Kuckein, long-time administrator of AOA and an honorary member of the society, who died in 2004. To learn more, click here.