Thursday, June 27, 2013

Med School Café - Expert Advice for the Community

This week, Dr. William Richards, professor and chair of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a bariatric surgeon with USA Physicians Group, presented the June Med School Café lecture, "Surgical Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes."

Dr. Richards, who specializes in laparoscopic gastrointestinal surgery, outlined the latest procedures available for treating obesity and Type 2 diabetes. During the talk he also provided important information on various diseases associated with obesity, including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

The next Med School Café lecture will feature Dr. Sudhakar Madanagopal, associate professor of orthopaedics at the USA College of Medicine. The lecture will take place July 25, 2013, at the USA Faculty Club.

If you are interested in attending, email for more details. To learn more about the lectures, click here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dr. Ronald Franks Selected as President-Elect of MASA

University of South Alabama Vice President for Health Sciences Dr. Ronald Franks was recently installed as the Medical Association of the State of Alabama’s president-elect.

Dr. Franks, a board certified psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry, joined USA in July 2007 as vice president for health sciences, a new division of the University consisting of the College of Allied Health Professions, the College of Medicine and the College of Nursing. In addition, the physician practice plan reports to Dr. Franks.

Prior to USA, Dr. Franks served as the vice president for health affairs and as a professor of psychiatry and behavior sciences at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn. from 2006-07, after having served as the dean of medicine and vice president for health affairs at East Tennessee State from 1997- 2006.

Prior to his time at East Tennessee State University, Dr. Franks served as dean of University of Minnesota - Duluth School of Medicine from 1988-97.

Two other USA College of Medicine individuals were elected to leadership positions in MASA. Clint Moore, D.O., was elected resident representative, and Julie Tan was elected medical student representative.

The Medical Association of the State of Alabama is the professional association for some 7,000 physicians of all specialties throughout Alabama. MASA exists to serve, lead and unite physicians in promoting the highest quality of health care for the people of Alabama through advocacy, information and education.

Class of 2015 Medical Students Receive White Coats at Annual White Coat Ceremony

Click image above to view larger
 The University of South Alabama College of Medicine held its annual White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2015 at the USA Mitchell Center on June 22, 2013.

During the ceremony, rising third-year medical students were cloaked with their first white coats, the traditional dress of physicians for more than 100 years.

William Tucker, a USA medical student who received his white coat at the ceremony, said that for him, the event marked the completion of two challenging years in the classroom and marked a step closer to helping patients.

“It's an honor to wear the white coat, but it also shows that we have a duty to the patients we will soon see,” said Tucker.

Tucker has a unique USA connection, being the son of Dr. Allan Tucker, Louise L. Locke professor and chair of pathology, and Jean Tucker, USA senior university attorney.

“I was familiar with the USA College of Medicine because of my dad, but knew little outside of the pathology department,” said Tucker. “Having my dad as a teacher was strange at first, but then I realized how cool it was to learn from him. I would not trade that experience for anything.”

For USA medical student Anna Christensen, who came to USA after serving as a nurse practitioner in the U.S. Navy, the white coat symbolizes the basic science knowledge and experience she has gained over the past two years at USA.

“This ceremony symbolizes the next step. I now have more autonomy,” said Christensen. “Before, I was always covered by someone else’s decisions on top of mine. In this ceremony, we are saying we will make the best decisions we can in the effort to help people.”

In addition to being a full-time medical student, Christensen is married with an 18-month-old child. “We’ve made it through pretty well so far,” she laughed. “The accomplishment of these past two years is something I’m really proud of.”

For USA medical student Serena Nimityongskul, the ceremony is a time to recognize the support she has received over the past two years. “The faculty and staff have shown me such love, support, and encouragement,” she said.

Along with Tucker, Nimityongskul also has a family member in the USA College of Medicine faculty. Her father is Dr. Nimityongskul, professor of orthopaedic surgery. “Having a family member on the faculty here has made a huge impact on my academic career,” she said. “The USA community has always treated me like family, and it is for that reason I am standing here today.”

Dr. Maryella Sirmon, a USA College of Medicine alumna, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

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

“The White Coat Ceremony means so much to me,” said Nimityongskul. “Declaring my good intentions to serve and heal the community, by taking the Medical Student Oath, is a huge milestone in my life that I will remember forever.”

The students will begin their clinical rotations and start interacting with patients on July 1.

To view all photos from the event, click here.

To see local news coverage of the event, click here and here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

St. Paul's Student Donates Books to USA Children’s Medical Center

From left to right: Shakina Jones, pediatric clinical care assistant; Leah Brown, student; USA Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Sheets; and Leah's mom, Dr.Yaffa Weaver-Brown.
The University of South Alabama Children’s Medical Center recently received more than 500 new and gently used children’s books collected by a rising eighth-grader at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile.

The student, Leah Brown, 12, planned the service project as part of her preparation to become a Bat Mitzvah.

“I love reading, and I can remember my parents reading to me when I was little,” Leah said. “It made me feel good to listen to a story every night, and I wanted to make sure other kids could have the same good experience with books.”

USA Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Sheets said the USA Children's Medical Center gives books away as part of the Reach Out and Read program, a nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.

The 500 donated books Leah donated will be given to children of all ages at sick visits and well check-ups from 5 years of age through the teenage years as part of the Reach Out and Read program.

“Summer is a great time for children to read when they are out of school,” Dr. Sheets said. “Leah’s book drive provided many school age favorites, such as The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter books.”

According to Dr. Sheets, Leah also collected $225 that has been deposited into the center’s Scholastic account to buy board books to give to infants and toddlers at their check-ups. “Leah’s donation will provide approximately 100 board books,” she said. “We are very grateful for her generosity.”

Leah’s mom, Dr. Yaffa Weaver-Brown, said Leah collected the books from her classmates and teachers at St. Paul’s. Donation sites were also located at the Springhill Avenue Temple and Ahavas Chesed Synogogue.

“My husband, Mark, and I are very proud of Leah’s efforts with this project,” said Yaffa.  “She has always loved reading, so it seemed to be a great fit for her to pursue this project.”

Leah said she chose to give her collected donations to USA Children’s Medical Center in part because of an experience she had when she had surgery.

“I remember that when I had surgery, I had nothing to do in the waiting room. With the donated books, children won’t be bored. They can read,” Leah said. “I hope that with my donations, kids will be given the chance to love reading just like I do.”

The Children's Medical Center, which is the pediatric teaching clinic for the University, became a member of the Reach Out and Read initiative eight years ago.

For more information on making a donation to the Reach Out and Read program at USA Children's Medical Center, contact Dr. Sheets at or call (251) 434-3869.