Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tips for the "Sandwich Generation"

Those with multiple family caregiving responsibilities are often referred to as the “sandwich generation,” a generation that not only works, but also cares for their young children and for their aging parents simultaneously.

Dr. Shyla Reddy, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of South Alabama, said it is important for these adults to learn how best to manage both their family and work responsibilities.

“As aging parents become unable to care for themselves, they become more and more dependent on family or friends,” Dr. Reddy said. “This is a tough situation that can be very stressful for family members.”

Dr. Reddy, who specializes in geriatric medicine, sees many elderly patients who are beginning to show signs of dependency – they have trouble going to the grocery store or doing simple household tasks.

Often times, the elderly begin to feel like they are putting heavy burdens on others when requiring assistance. “Providing a strong family support to your aging parents will help them cope with functional decline,” Dr. Reddy said.

When you have an aging parent that is becoming dependent, Dr. Reddy said the family needs to know how to assist the parent. At the same time, they need to know how to overcome the stresses associated with providing assistance so it does not negatively affect their well-being.

For those who are dealing with the stresses of multiple caregiving, Dr. Reddy recommends looking into community resources first, such as senior companion programs and home health aides. In addition, she suggests researching educational services and support networks that are available for family members, which can provide much-needed knowledge and advice on multiple caregiving.

Other recommendations include seeking emotional support from family, friends and coworkers. “If you have siblings, organize and divide up your time to provide assistance,” Dr. Reddy said. “Consider joining a support group or a stress management program. You need to learn how to balance your tasks so you do not become overwhelmed.”

According to Dr. Reddy, the most important thing you can do when dealing with heavy responsibilities is to take care of yourself first. “There are community networks available for you, and it’s very important that you make time for those resources,” she said. “You must take care of yourself first in order to be prepared both physically and emotionally to take care of others.”

For more information on caregiving, visit

USA College of Medicine to Host White Coat Ceremony

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine will hold its annual White Coat Ceremony at the Saenger Theatre on June 25, 2011, at 11 a.m. During the ceremony, rising third-year medical students will be cloaked with their first white coats, the traditional dress of physicians for more than 100 years.

Dr. Lynn Dyess, professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine, will be the keynote speaker.

“The white coat is a vivid symbol of the medical profession for medical students and physicians alike.  It also serves as a constant reminder of the privilege we have to care for patients,” said Dr. Dyess.  “For physicians in training, the ceremony provides a moment to reflect upon the life-long dedication to provide both the best of care for their patients, but also to uphold their commitment to provide this care with compassion and humility.”

In the United States, medical schools typically organize their four-year curriculum into two distinct parts - the preclinical and the clinical years. This tradition holds true at USA, where students spend the first two years in a classroom setting learning the fundamentals of basic science and pathology, followed by two years of hands-on training in the clinical environment under the supervision and mentoring of faculty and resident physicians.

USA medical students Sonia Savani and Russ Terry said the ceremony marks a significant milestone, one in which they will transition into the clinical setting. Their third year begins on Monday, June 27.

“As a class, we really appreciate the recognition,” Terry said. “We’ve worked so hard the last two years in the classroom, and we are looking forward to working with patients on a daily basis. It will be interesting to see how all of the information we have learned applies in the clinical setting.”

Savani, vice president of the class, said she is excited about wearing the white coat. “It’s a symbol of what we are about to do,” she said. “It puts everything into perspective and gives us that push we need to get through the last two years of medical school.”

According to Savani, she entered medical school as a way to explore her two passions – science and education. “I love the medical field and everything it stands for,” she said. “I would love to someday be a physician at a teaching hospital because that would combine both of my main interests.”

Growing up as the daughter of a physician, Savani said she wasn’t always sure she wanted to enter the medical field. But, with her father as her role model, she saw how good he was at balancing his job with his family. Now, she is excited to be following in his footsteps.  “My father taught me that your life is what you make of it, and that you definitely can have that balance.”

For students, the White Coat ceremony serves as a reminder of the importance and responsibility they take by dedicating themselves to the care of patients. During the ceremony, the students in unison will take the Medical Student Oath, a promise to uphold the human aspects of medicine, such as sensitivity, compassion and respect for patients.

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

USA Medicine Magazine - Online First Edition

Click here to view the online first edition of USA Medicine magazine. In the cover story, we catch up with four USA Alumni who have impacted the field of medicine in nontraditional ways.

Mark Your Calendars - Special Seminar

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine Flow Cytometry Core Facility is hosting a special seminar on June 30, 2011, at noon in the Medical Sciences Building on USA’s main campus.

The seminar, titled “Flow Cytometry Applications for Analysis of Protein Phosphorylation: Inter/Intra Cellular Communication Events,” will be presented by Michael Hulsey, M.S., a technical applications specialist in the Immunocytometry Systems Group of BD Biosciences.

Hulsey received his M.S. degree in cell physiology from Georgia State University in 2001. He has worked at BD Biosciences since 2007 and is responsible for providing technical assistance to BD customers with all of the instrumentation produced by BD.

Prior to working at BD Biosciences, Hulsey worked as a technical director of flow cytometry for the Emory Vaccine Center at Yerkes Primate Center Flow Cytometry Core from 2000 to 2007. The Vaccine Center Flow Core had six analytical instruments, as well as two cell sorters.

While working at Emory, Hulsey maintained the instruments, taught students how to use instruments, and operated the cell sorters on a daily basis. The core serviced approximately 200 users at any given time.

For more information on the seminar, contact Dr. Robert Barrington at (251) 461-1718.