Monday, February 24, 2020

Lions Club donation supports vision research and training at USA College of Medicine

Robert Barrington, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, works in the lab with medical student Brandon Rivers.
 
University of South Alabama researchers recently received funding from local Lions Clubs that will be used to buy equipment for conducting high-quality vision research and training the next generation of vision scientists.

A check for $25,000 was presented by board members of the USA Lions Eye Research Institute, to the USA College of Medicine eye research team, led by Robert Barrington, Ph.D., at a meeting in February.

Barrington, a member of the University Lions Club and associate professor of microbiology at the USA College of Medicine, said the gathering provided an opportunity to showcase the impact of the support from area Lions Clubs.

The University Lions Club, a part of Lions Clubs International, is a civic organization that supports projects focusing on diabetes and vision.

During the meeting, area Lions Club members heard from three USA researchers, recent Ph.D. graduate student Steffani Fitzpatrick, and medical students Brandon Rivers and Jack Friend, who shared research project presentations with the group. Lions Club members also toured the research facilities that house instrumentation purchased for the College of Medicine through grants from the Lions Club International Foundation.

Barrington said the most recent donation will contribute to the purchase of another instrument, 10x Genomics, to facilitate cutting-edge eye research at USA.

“The instrument allows for identification of gene signatures for every individual cell analyzed,” he said. “In particular, it is being implemented by the cancer research community to identify responder versus non-responder patients to immunotherapies. We will employ the technology to understand functional roles of diverse sets of immune cells to intracorneal HSV-1 infection.”

Barrington’s lab studies infectious blindness caused by herpes virus, the leading cause of infectious blindness in the developed world.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the USA Lions Eye Research Institute, Barrington said. Since 1990, this group has provided approximately $370,000 in direct funds for eye research. They've also been essential in bringing cutting-edge technologies to the University of South Alabama College of Medicine by sponsoring matching grants through Lions Club International.

All told, they've helped raise more than $1 million through direct donations and instrumentation grants for basic science eye research at the USA College of Medicine.

“Their donations have supported more than 20 Ph.D. and M.D. student trainees,” Barrington said, “and helped support more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. It's a rather remarkable example of how civic-minded individuals can impact basic science efforts.”

Researcher awarded NIH supplemental grant

Antonio Ward, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute works in a lab recently. Ward has been awarded an NIH diversity supplemental grant to study the anti-cancer immunity benefits of targeting RAS in lung cancer.
Antonio Ward, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in the Drug Discovery Research Center at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute, is the recipient of a supplemental grant award from the National Institutes of Health to promote diversity in health-related research.

Ward is working with Gary A. Piazza, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. He will test the effectiveness of an experimental RAS inhibitor, MCI-062, which was developed at the University of South Alabama. Ward will explore whether MCI-062 can combat lung cancer more effectively when combined with immunotherapy.

Ward holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and a doctoral degree in environmental toxicology from Mississippi State University. He has worked as a postdoctoral student at MCI for more than three years during which he has focused his research on studying certain vulnerabilities of cancer cells with the goal of developing molecular targeted therapies to prevent or treat solid tumors such as colon, lung, pancreatic and breast cancers.

Originally developed at the University of South Alabama, MCI-062 is currently being developed by ADT Pharmaceuticals, based in Gulf Shores, in collaboration with Anchiano Therapeutics, based in Cambridge, Mass. and Jerusalem.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Solidarity Week helps med students ‘get to know our patients’

Jeremy Towns, fourth-year medical student and Gold Humanism Honor Society member, delivers treats to Mary McNeal, a ward clerk at University Hospital.
Members of the University of South Alabama chapter of the Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Medicine Honor Society paid special visits to patients and hospital staff last week as part of Solidarity Week, a national initiative designed to remind students and healthcare employees of the importance of compassion in medicine.

“Solidarity Week allows us to place the focus on getting to know our patients better as well as showing gratitude to the unsung heroes of USA Health,” said Destini A. Smith, a fourth-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine who serves as secretary/treasurer of the chapter. “Sometimes, we focus so much on the patient’s clinical problem that we forget about the patient.”

On Friday, GHHS members hand-delivered red gift baskets to nursing stations, and thank-you notes to faculty and staff at the hospitals. Smith said the activity recognizes the importance of teamwork in healthcare. “We sometimes take other members of the healthcare team for granted, though the physician is not the only one caring for the patient,” she said.

Gold Humanism Honor Society members, from left, Dala 
Eloubeidi, Joseph Cortopassi, Destini Smith, Dr. Spencer 
Liles, Patrick Steadman and Jeremy Towns wish second-year 
medical students good luck on the USMLE Step 1 exam.
Two Solidarity Week initiatives, “Tell Me More” and “Doctors Should,” encouraged students to engage patients in meaningful conversations. Under “Tell Me More,” the students talked with patients about what matters most to them rather than why they are in the hospital. With “Doctors Should,” the students sought suggestions from patients on how physicians can practice more compassionate care. The ideas were written on sticky notes and placed on posters to display in physician lounges.

“These events are important because they remind physicians and students that the patients are more than just an illness that brings them to the hospital,” said T.J. Hundley, M.D., associate dean for medical education and chapter advisor. “They are people with families, jobs, hobbies and much more.  Effective care involves more than just selecting tests and choosing treatments.  It involves empathy, understanding and kindness.”

Solidarity Week activities also focus on wellness for medical students. GHHS chapter members created posters for second-year medical students to wish them good luck on the Step 1 exam and to remind them that they are never alone on their journey. Another new activity was Humanistic BINGO, in which students participate in tasks related to compassion and self-care to complete a five-in-a-row BINGO and compete to win a drawing. This year’s winners were second-year medical student Michelle Nguyen and first-year medical student Kasey Grant.

The national Gold Humanism Honor Society established National Solidarity Day for Compassionate Care in 2011 to highlight the nationwide movement promoting provider-patient relationships based on caring, personalization and mutual respect. Solidarity Day was expanded to Solidarity Week in 2016.

See more photos from Solidarity Week on Flickr.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Bull to retire from USA College of Medicine

Sharon Bull, associate director of financial aid at the USA College of Medicine, talks with a medical student in her office. She is retiring at the end of February after 30 years of service.
Sharon Bull, associate director of financial aid at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, is retiring after 30 years of service. Bull is the only person in the medical school’s history to serve in the position.

“Sharon has devoted her entire career to not only assisting our College of Medicine students with their financial aid but also in instructing them about true financial literacy. She daily provides our students guidance as they proceed from tasks such as paying bills, establishing accounts and mastering a budget to investigating loan consolidation and repayment,” said Kelly Roveda, M.D., associate dean of student affairs for USA’s College of Medicine. “Sharon's wisdom will be missed.”

A USA graduate, Bull earned a degree in communications and started working at the College of Medicine about seven years after graduation. The new position was created to give medical students better access to financial aid, an important issue for students that often influences their career paths.

During her career, Bull has assisted 30 classes and 2,015 graduates with financing their medical education, helping with debt management, teaching financial literacy and distributing scholarships.

“I’ve loved this job, and I appreciate the chance I was given 30 years ago,” Bull said. “It has been extremely rewarding. Having the opportunity to help the students is why I’ve stayed so long.”

The part of her job that has made her most proud, she said, is helping students: “I can’t go into a hospital or a doctor’s office in Mobile without seeing a former student, and they always seem to remember me and are very friendly.”

While Bull says she will miss her students and colleagues, she is eager to embark on the next chapter of her life and to spend more time with her family.

A retirement reception will be held in Bull’s honor on Thursday, Feb. 27 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the USA Faculty Club on campus.

Influenza 101: What students and staff need to know

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

USA Health wants to ensure staff and students who work or spend time within our facilities take all precautions necessary to prevent the spread of flu. Here are answers to some common questions about the flu, answered by Teresa M. Aikens, RN, MSN, CIC, nurse manager for Infection Prevention/Control and Employee Occupational Health at University Hospital.

Q. What should an employee or student who works at USA Health do when they are diagnosed with the flu?
A. It’s recommended that all employees and students with a confirmed flu diagnosis be treated with Tamiflu to shorten the duration of the illness and lessen the symptoms. Do not go to work or school if you are ill.

Q. Speaking of returning to work following the flu, when can employees and students come back to work?
A. Employees and students with the flu diagnosis must wait until they are free of fever for 24 hours (without any fever-reducing medication). Upon return to work, they must wear a mask for the first seven days because they can potentially shed the virus and infect others.

Q. Is wearing a mask for seven days after having the flu a new policy?
A. Yes. It was added in 2019 after recommendation and approval by the USA Health Infection Prevention and Review Committee.

Q. Where can employees and students get the masks?
A. Masks are available throughout the hospitals. If an employee has trouble locating a mask, contact Infection Prevention or their supervisor.

Q. Is wearing a mask only for employees and students who work directly with patients?
A. No, this applies to all employees because they could infect co-workers.

Q. Do these flu protocols apply to medical students or other students?
A. If they are in our facility, they need to be compliant with the policy as they could infect patients and hospital employees.

Q. Where can flu patients be treated quickly within USA Health?
A. As with any illness, they should contact their primary care physician or any urgent care facility during the first signs of illness for antiviral medications to be effective. If they are experiencing severe illness in need of hospitalization, such as patients with multiple medical problems or severe respiratory distress, then an emergency room visit may be indicated. Most individuals with the flu can be cared for at home, and the best advice for almost everyone is to stay at home away from people. Also, always try to cover your cough and use good hand hygiene.

Q. Is the vaccine still available for students?
A. Yes. The Student Health Center has flu vaccine available for all currently enrolled students. There is no need to make an appointment. The cost of the flu shot is typically covered by most insurance plans. Call 460-7151 for more information.

Save the Date: Town hall rescheduled for March 9

Faculty and staff are invited to a town hall meeting with leaders from the University of South Alabama and USA Health at 7:30 a.m. Monday, March 9 at the University Hospital Conference Center.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

USA scientists study role of NAD+ in cancer treatment

Robert Sobol, Ph.D. professor of pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and chief of the Molecular & Metabolic Oncology Program at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute, works in his lab at the Mitchell Cancer Institute. 
Research conducted at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute examining the impact of vitamin B3-related molecules such as niacin, as it is converted in cells as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), was highlighted in the January issue of Scientific Reports.

The article, titled “Extracellular NAD+ enhances PARP-dependent DNA repair capacity independently of CD73 activity,” outlines the importance of NAD+, also known as an "energy molecule." NAD+ is essential for survival of every cell in the body and plays an important role in cancer research and treatment efficacy.

Robert Sobol, Ph.D., talks with research associate Jennifer
Clark about their research at the Mitchell Cancer Institute.
“This type of research could be significant for the patients treated at the Mitchell Cancer Institute,” said Robert W. Sobol, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and chief of the Molecular & Metabolic Oncology Program at the Mitchell Cancer Institute. “We can use our findings to better understand why some cancer treatment responses may be affected differently depending on vitamin B3 dietary intake and how the tumor can process vitamin B3 into the needed cellular metabolites.”

According to Sobol, NAD+ molecules can ensure the stability of the genome, and could positively impact patients affected by cancer. Sobol explained that he, Marie Migaud, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, and other members of the program are working to understand how changes in cellular NAD+ levels may impact treatment for different types of cancer.

The Molecular & Metabolic Oncology Program at the Mitchell Cancer Institute focuses on the cellular mechanisms of DNA repair and metabolism and how these processes impact cancer development and the response to cancer treatments.

The article published in Scientific Reports is based on work conducted by Sobol and his research team. Co-authors from the USA College of Medicine and Mitchell Cancer Institute include Migaud; Jianfeng Li, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology; Jennifer Clark, instructor of pharmacology; Anna Wilk, Ph.D., instructor of pharmacology; and Faisal Hayat, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in pharmacology.

At the Mitchell Cancer Institute, physicians and scientific investigators are searching for breakthrough discoveries to improve the lives of cancer patients.

Pediatric surgeon returns to USA College of Medicine faculty

Katrina Weaver, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently completed advanced training in pediatric/adolescent bariatric surgery and is now offering this new surgery options for young patients dealing with obesity.

“Childhood obesity impacts one out of every five children in the United States with the majority of these children suffering from the same comorbidities as obese adults but at a much earlier age,” Weaver said. “I am eager to help bring change and new surgical options for our morbidly obese adolescent population. Bariatric surgery is successful for many morbidly obese adolescents, with most of them having significant improvement or even complete resolution of their weight-related comorbidities.”

In 2017, Weaver joined the USA College of Medicine faculty in the division of trauma, critical care and burns. She recently returned to Mobile following a pediatric surgery fellowship at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

”I’m thrilled to be back at USA Health and and excited to to bring new surgery options for young patients in our region who are struggling with their health and weight,” she said.

Weaver earned her medical degree at the University of Utah School of Medicine and then completed her internship and residency at the USA College of Medicine. She also completed a surgical scholar research fellowship and a surgery critical care fellowship at Children’s Mercy Hospital before completing her a pediatric surgery fellowship. She is board certified in general surgery and surgical critical care.

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming grand rounds

Mark your calendar for the following grand rounds:

Cardiology Grand Rounds
"Atrial Septal Defects Part 2"
Marc Cribbs, M.D., Cardiologist, University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Cardiology
Noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18
USA Health University Hospital, Cardiology Conference Room
Contact: Angela Hunt at (251) 471-7923 or arhunt@health.southalabama.edu

Neurology Grand Rounds
"Treatment of Epilepsy with Sodium Channel Modulators"
Miles Steven Evans, M.D., Professor of Neurology, University of Louisville
8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18
USA Health University Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Center
Contact: Heather Kelly at (251) 445-8292 or hdkelly@helath.southalabama.edu

Psychiatry Grand Rounds
"It’s More Than 'Just' Burnout"
Owen Muir, M.D., Founder, Brooklyn Minds Psychiatry, P.C., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18
AltaPointe Health Systems, Bayview/DOP, 1015 Montlimar Dr. Suite A-210
Contact: Angela Pope at (251) 706-5553 or apope@altapointe.org

Medicine Grand Rounds
"Developmental Therapeutics"
Sachin Pai, M.D., Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Clinical Oncology, USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute
8 to 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 20
USA Health University Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Center
Contact: Linda Ching at (251) 471-7900 or lching@health.southalabama.edu

Surgery Grand Rounds
"The Social Determinants of Health: A Focus on Poverty"
Errol Crook, M.D., Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine, USA College of Medicine
7 to 8 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21
USA Health University Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Center
Contact: Tyronda Rogers at (251) 445-8230 or tmrogers@health.southalabama.edu

Pediatric Grand Rounds
"Atopic Dermatitis - Just the Facts for the Pediatric Provider"
Anthony J. Mancini, M.D., Head of Dermatology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago; Professor of Pediatrics & Dermatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
8 to 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21
Strada Patient Care Center, 1st Floor Conference Room
Contact: Nicole Laden at (251) 415-8688 or nicoleladen@health.southalabama.edu

Friday, February 7, 2020

Med School Café video online: 'Sports Injuries, Treatment and Prevention'

Brad Clay, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the USA College of Medicine and a sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon with USA Health, presented "Sports Injuries, Treatment and Prevention" at the January Med School Café.

Watch the full lecture on YouTube or below:

Thursday, February 6, 2020

See how USA Health is transforming medicine in new advertising campaign

USA Health has the responsibility not only to provide the highest quality and level of care to our patients, but also to look for new ways of doing things so that we transform medicine. As the region’s only academic health system, we use our unique perspectives to train the next generation of physicians at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

Last year we committed resources to telling people about our work and our successes. This week we launched our next effort, focusing on our own people. The campaign is multipronged and includes television, billboards, print ads and internal messaging. Throughout the year, the campaign will highlight people from USA Health and the USA College of Medicine.

Among those featured are Mike Lin, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and cell biology; Myria Mack-Williams, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics; William Richards, M.D., professor and chair of surgery; and Jennifer Young Pierce, M.D., professor of interdisciplinary clinical oncology.

Watch our three television commercials below, and visit www.howweseeit.com for more information on how we are transforming medicine.







Richards to serve as president of regional surgery organization

William Richards, M.D., professor and chair of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and director of the USA Surgical Weight Loss Center, will become president of the Southeastern Surgical Congress (SESC) on Feb. 9 at the group’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Richards has served as president-elect since last year’s annual meeting. As the new president, he will oversee the end of the annual meeting by moderating sessions, running the business meeting and giving a message to the group.

During this year’s annual meeting, he will also give a historical talk about Dean Warren, M.D., who Richards describes as his mentor and someone who was doing “some unbelievable things that were well ahead of his time in terms of surgical research.” He hopes to impart to the group some of the lessons from Warren’s life and his surgical research.

Richards’ presidential duties include selecting people to serve on various committees within the SESC, attending business meetings, nominating others for various positions within the organization, and planning next year’s meeting.

“My job will be to help all committees function at a high level, ensure that papers are being published, that we get our communications out, and that we follow up with the SESC’s  organizational initiatives,” Richards said. “As president, my role will include increasing enthusiasm for new surgeons to join this society, as well as encouraging member participation in the annual meeting and through submission of papers to the American Surgeon.”

Over the last year, Richards has also been involved in moving the American Surgeon, the SESC’s journal, from a print publication to an online publication. Richards has been an integral part of modernizing this communication process.

Richards said it is important to have residents and faculty present at meetings to give them the opportunity to communicate their research findings to a large crowd of their peers.

“Presenting new findings reflects that we’re constantly improving our practices through research,” Richards said. “Conducting research advances the practice of surgery and improves the care of patients. As an academic medical center, research is core to what we do. We’re constantly looking at better ways to care for our patients.”

The Southeastern Surgical Congress is the largest regional meeting of general surgeons and more than 600 surgeons are expected to attend the meeting.

Global Engagement: Improving medical education through international collaborations

David A. Gremse, M.D., professor and chair of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine, talks with Lucrecia Hernandez, M.D., Ph.D., from Universidad Francisco Marroquin (UFM) School of Medicine in Guatemala as they tour the Strada Patient Care Center. 
University of South Alabama College of Medicine leaders welcomed a team from the Universidad Francisco Marroquin (UFM) School of Medicine in Guatemala this week in an ongoing collaboration to assist the Central American institution with curriculum development and program accreditation.

UFM School of Medicine administration and faculty are interested in learning more about the process of medical school accreditation and faculty development, said Benjamin Estrada, M.D., assistant dean for medical education and professor of pediatrics at USA. “They requested a visit to USA to interact with faculty and administrators that have successfully gone through these processes.”

Federico Alfaro, M.D., dean of the UFM School of Medicine, said the group engaged in excellent dialogue with USA leaders during the two-day visit, learning more about the international accreditation process, among other topics.

“I’m full of ideas to bring back to our university,” Alfaro said.

Beginning in 2014, staff from USA’s College of Medicine began formally working with colleagues from the UFM School of Medicine to introduce them to team-based learning, which focuses on longitudinal content integration in a competency–based environment.

“The partnership has enhanced the redevelopment of the UFM School of Medicine curriculum from discipline based to a systems based curriculum,” said Estrada, who is a graduate of the Universidad Francisco Marroquin School of Medicine.

For six years, Estrada, along with Phillip Fields, Ph.D., professor of anatomy at USA, have provided training to UFM School of Medicine faculty during visits and through online collaboration.

In particular, Estrada said, a relationship between Julie Estis, USA’s director of academic enhancement, and faculty with the UFM Medical School and the Central American university has been essential to the partnership. Estis has traveled to Guatemala on many occasions, Estrada said, providing workshops and expert guidance.

Since the 1980s, more than 30 graduates from UFM’s School of Medicine have participated in USA’s graduate medical education program, Estrada said. 

In March 2019, the relationship between the University of South Alabama and UFM became more formalized when USA President Tony Waldrop and UFM President Gabriel Calzada signed a memorandum of understanding for a collaboration between the two institutions.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín Medical School in Guatemala was the first school in Central America to change its curriculum to the integrated systems in a competency-based format. The USA College of Medicine has continued to collaborate with the UFM School of Medicine in different aspects of curriculum development and educational program accreditation.

The team-based learning program developed at USA is influencing medical education in other parts of the world, Estrada said: “Ultimately, we want make a positive contribution to improving medical education and patient care wherever possible.”

Wright receives COM Predoctoral Fellowship Award

Griffin Wright, a third-year student in the Basic Medical Sciences Graduate Program at the University of South Alabama, works with Natalie Gassman, Ph.D., in her lab at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute. 
Griffin Wright, a student in the Basic Medical Sciences Graduate Program at the University of South Alabama, is the recipient of the USA College of Medicine Predoctoral Fellowship Award.

He is working with Natalie Gassman, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology and cell biology at the USA College of Medicine and a cancer researcher at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute, to study the response of DNA repair pathways following environment exposures.

“My research primarily focuses on the regulation of a major pathway of DNA repair, base excision repair (BER), in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC),” Wright said. “A greater understanding of how BER is regulated in TNBC would improve treatment selection for the disease.”

Wright said he is grateful for this award, as it allows him to attend an advanced training course focusing on experimental models of human cancer at Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor, Maine.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the Auburn University College of Agriculture in 2017.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Grand Rounds

Mark your calendar for the following grand rounds:

Neurology Grand Rounds
"Neurologic Complications of HIV: Differential Diagnosis and Management"
William Kilgo, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology, USA College of Medicine
8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4
USA Health University Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Center
Contact: Heather Kelly at (251) 445-8292 or hdkelly@helath.southalabama.edu

Neonatal Morbidity & Mortality
"Neurodevelopmental Outcomes for Periviable Infants"
Ramachandra Bhat, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, USA College of Medicine
Noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5
USA Health Children’s & Women Hospital, Jubilee Room
Contact: Cathy McCurley at (251) 415-1055 or cmccurley@health.southalabama.edu

Cardiology Grand Rounds
"Diversity and Bias"
Franklin Trimm, M.D., Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, Assistant Vice President of Medical Affairs, USA College of Medicine
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7
Cardiology Conference Room
Contact: Angela Hunt at (251) 471-7923 or arhunt@health.southalabama.edu

Medicine Grand Rounds
"Understanding Renal Pathology Associated with Plasma Cell Dyscrasias"
Guillermo A. Herrera, M.D., Professor and Chair of Pathology, USA College of Medicine
8 to 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13
USA Health University Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Center
Contact: Linda Ching at (251) 471-7900 or lching@health.southalabama.edu

Orthopaedic Surgery Grand Rounds
"Ulnar Sided Wrist Pain"
Thomas Barbour, M.D., Elbow, Hand and Wrist Specialist, The Orthopaedic Group
7 to 8 a.m. Friday, Feb. 14
Strada Patient Care Center, 1st Floor Conference Room
Contact: Rhonda Smith at (251) 665-8251 or rhondasmith@health.southalabama.edu

New members elected into USA Chapter of GHHS

Ten University of South Alabama College of Medicine students, three residents and one faculty member recently were named to the USA Chapter of the Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Medicine Honor Society (GHHS), a national society that celebrates compassionate, patient-centered care.

Each year, a select group of students, residents and faculty members are named to the society through a peer-nominated process. GHHS membership recognizes individuals who exemplify compassionate patient care and serve as role models, mentors and leaders in medicine.

“Election to the GHHS is significant because these students, residents and faculty have been identified as individuals who represent the GHHS goal of placing compassion, dignity and human value at the heart of education and clinical practice,” said T.J. Hundley, M.D., associate dean for medical education, who was named a chapter adviser, replacing Susan LeDoux, Ph.D., who recently retired.

Medical student Nkemdi Agwaramgbo said being named to the society was “a humbling recognition.”

“I’ve never considered compassion to be a personality trait; it’s a set of behaviors – listening, encouraging, respecting privacy and others – reinforced by repetition,” Agwaramgbo said. “For me the honor of being nominated by my peers for Gold Humanism is a call to keep practicing these behaviors.”

This year, the following third-year medical students, residents and faculty were selected:
  • Nkemdi Agwaramgbo, student
  • Grayson Domingue, student
  • Dala Eloubeidi, student
  • Tyler King, student
  • W. Hamilton Moore, student
  • Raymond Moosavi, student
  • Ravi Rajendra, student
  • Jordan M. Smith, student
  • Gisella Ward, student
  • Zachary White, student
  • Linda Ding, M.D.; faculty, department of surgery
  • Sara McConnell, D.O.; resident, internal medicine/pediatrics
  • Taylor Twiggs, M.D.; resident, department of obstetrics and gynecology
  • Jonathan Bernard, M.D.; resident, department of surgery
This year’s class officers are W. Hamilton Moore, president; Gisella Ward, secretary; Jordan M. Smith, treasurer; and Tyler King, social coordinator. New members will be inducted into the society and pinned at the USA College of Medicine annual White Coat Ceremony at 4 p.m. on June 19, at the Mitchell Center.

Moore said he was honored to be elected and excited to serve as president. “I truly believe that compassionate medical care is one of the best ways to serve someone else, so to be recognized by my classmates as a future physician that displays integrity, compassion and clinical excellence is one of the greatest compliments I could ever receive,” he said. “With this recognition comes a responsibility that motivates me to treat all of my patients and colleagues with kindness.”

Medical student Gisella Ward said that, for her, the society represents a class of individuals who genuinely care about the whole patient beyond an office encounter or a disease state. “Humanistic care starts with compassion and is amplified by providers who take the time to listen, educate and empower their patients to be as health as possible,” Ward said. “I’m honored to be selected among practicing and future physicians who exhibit those qualities and plan to continue to do so with enthusiasm.”

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation sustains the commitment of healthcare professionals to provide compassionate, collaborative and scientifically excellent patient care. The society currently has approximately 30,000 members in training and practice.

Each year, the GHHS participates in Solidarity Week for Compassionate Patient Care to remind students and employees of the importance of compassion in medicine. This year, Solidarity Week is set for Feb. 10-14, as the GHHS Class of 2020 will participate in several activities to remind students and employees of the importance of compassion in medicine.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Intramural grant allows USA faculty to investigate atherosclerosis

Steve Lim, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the USA College of Medicine, investigates the pathological contribution of vascular smooth muscle cells in atherosclerosis. 
Steve Lim, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was awarded a one-year $50,000 grant to investigate the pathological contribution of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on artery walls (also known as plaque), which can restrict blood flow. The plaque can burst, triggering a blood clot. Although atherosclerosis is often considered a heart problem, it can impact arteries anywhere in the body.

Two postdoctoral fellows, James Murphy, Ph.D., and Kyuho “KJ” Jeong, Ph.D., are performing the work in Lim’s lab.

Since most previous studies have focused on the role of macrophages or endothelial cells in atherosclerosis progression, Lim said, the role of VSMCs in the disease is not well understood. Considering that a majority of cholesterol-loaded cells in atherosclerotic plaques are of VSMC origin, the study tackles reducing these phenotypically altered VSMCs.

USA College of Medicine intramural grants provide funds through an annual competition to five full-time basic science faculty members. The grant program is designed to provide the resources needed to develop new or additional preliminary data to bolster success with extramural funding.

“Often, many basic researchers have a good idea but do not have funding to begin with,” Lim said. “I believe this grant opportunity is crucial to develop initiatives of new ideas and to potentially bring extramural funding in the future.”

Fourth year, best year: A day in the life of a fourth-year medical student

Fourth-year medical student Malik McMullin presents a case to Kari Bradham, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine. 
Malik McMullin, a fourth-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, takes us on a journey of his everyday life as he explains the rigors of medical school.

“The fourth year of medical school is vastly different from the other three years,” McMullin said. “It is broken down into 10, four-week blocks where we can have a lot of customization over our schedules.”

Between traveling for residency interviews and studying for the USMLE Step 2 CK exam, McMullin said his days are packed. “It is a rewarding yet exhausting experience,” he said. “We all have worked so hard for this opportunity with the goal in mind – securing the residency program of our choice,” he said.

McMullin said he chose to drive to all of his residency interviews, grouping each program by region to be most efficient. “I actually had a stretch where I was gone from home for four weeks and attended eight interviews during that time. In between interviews, I would stay at family and friends' houses to save money.”

When he’s not on the road traveling for residency interviews, McMullin said he is busy participating in acting internships (AIs). “Our most structured days are probably during our acting internships,” he said. “I completed two acting internships to help prepare for my residency training, one in internal medicine and another in pediatrics.”

McMullin said his typical AI schedule includes:

6 a.m. – Wake up.

6:45 a.m. – Arrive at the hospital. “Usually I will print a patient handoff list for the entire team, which consists of one attending, one upper-level resident, two to three interns, and two to three medical students,” he said.

7 a.m. – Head to the resident lounge for handoffs. “Usually, the upper-level residents and interns have to be there by 7 a.m. to get check-out from the night time and as acting interns, we will join them,” he said.

7:15 to 9:30 a.m. – Chart check and see patients. “I review labs and imaging before seeing my patients in the morning,” he said. “This all happens before the attending shows up at 9:30. We call this pre-rounding or rounding before the attending arrives. This allows time to start developing a plan for patient care as well as work on writing notes.”

9:30 a.m. – The attending physician arrives and rounds begin. “Many attending physicians round differently,” he said. “For my team, we usually stayed at the table to discuss patients in the rounding room. Frequently, the third-and fourth-year medical students are the ones presenting the patients and the plan of treatment to the attending physicians, which is why we pre-round and discuss plans of care with our residents before the attending arrives.”

Noon to 2 p.m. – Patient rounds end. “One day per week, the interns have something called academic half day which is where they go and learn about a clinical topic,” he said. “Fourth-year medical students will also usually attend academic half day. The upper-level resident takes any pagers so that the interns can learn at half day without interruption. I also use this time to eat, but they usually feed the residents and students at half day. If there is no academic half day, we use that time to write notes and work with the team on discharging any patients.”

2 to 4 p.m. – Admit new patients. “The floor teams usually get new patients starting at 2 p.m.,” he said. “These can be new patients through the emergency department or patients from the ICU who no longer need ICU level care. As medical students, the team will let us see them first and give us time to develop our own thoughts on diagnosis for learning purposes. If we get a new patient from the ED, I will see them, take a full history and physical exam, and write my own patient note with my personal plan of care with assistance from the upper-level resident. We try to finish up admissions by 4:30 to 5 p.m. in order to check out to the team on call.”

4:30 to 7 p.m. – Check out patients to the night team. “As an acting intern, I will inform the night resident about the patients that I am managing while my upper-level resident listens and chimes in when necessary,” he said.

McMullin said the end of his day varies based on what rotation he is on, but most of his days end of with catching up on shows that he doesn’t have as much time to watch early in medical school.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Med School Café to address psoriasis

The February Med School Café will feature Fred Bodie, M.D., a dermatologist with USA Health Dermatology. He will discuss psoriasis.

The lecture will be held Friday, Feb. 21, at the USA Faculty Club. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., and the presentation will begin at noon.

The Med School Café lecture and lunch are provided free of charge, but reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, contact Kim Partridge at (251) 460-7770 or kepartridge@health.southalabama.edu.

Med School Café is a free community lecture series sponsored by USA Health. Each month, faculty and physicians share their expertise on a specific medical condition, providing insight on the latest treatment available.

Mark your calendar: Upcoming grand rounds

Mark your calendar for the following grand rounds:

Orthopaedic Surgery Grand Rounds
"Putting the Brakes on Breaks"
Sarah Goode, Bone Health Specialist, Orthopaedic Surgery, AOC Orthopaedics
7 to 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 24
Strada Patient Care Center, 1st Floor Conference Room
Contact: Rhonda Smith at (251) 665-8251 or rhondasmith@health.southalabama.edu

Surgery Grand Rounds
"Safe Cholecystectomy, Reclaiming the Duct and Bailouts"
Thomas Capasso, M.D., Fellow, Surgical Critical Care, USA Health University Hospital
7 to 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 24
USA Health University Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Center
Contact: Tyronda Rogers at (251) 445-8230 or tmrogers@health.southalabama.edu

Cardiology Grand Rounds
"Controlled Substances in the Cardiac Patient"
Elizabeth A. VandeWaa, Ph.D, Professor of Adult Health Nursing, USA Health University Hospital
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24
Cardiology Conference Room
Contact: Angela Hunt at (251) 471-7923 or arhunt@health.southalabama.edu

Neurology Grand Rounds
"Polyneuropathy"
Robert Kobelja, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology, USA College of Medicine
8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28
USA Health University Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Center
Contact: Heather Kelly at (251) 445-8292 or hdkelly@helath.southalabama.edu

Orthopaedic Surgery Grand Rounds
"CMC Arthritis"
Jared Burkett, M.D., Alabama Orthopaedic Clinic
7 to 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 31
Strada Patient Care Center, 1st Floor Conference Room
Contact: Rhonda Smith at (251) 665-8251 or rhondasmith@health.southalabama.edu

OB/GYN Grand Rounds
"Evidence Behind C-Sections"
Nicolette Holliday, M.D., Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, USA College of Medicine
7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 31
USA Health Children’s & Women Hospital, Atlantis Room
Contact: Heather Glass at (251) 415-1563 or hglass@health.southalabama.edu

Monday, January 20, 2020

USA medical student matches in ophthalmology residency program

Fourth-year medical student Jack Friend of Mobile recently matched in an ophthalmology residency program at Louisiana State University.
Fourth-year medical student Jack Friend has matched in one of the most competitive residency specialties, ophthalmology, at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

The Mobile native said he will join 2019 graduates from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine Drs. Christopher Lasecki and John Morgan, who are current ophthalmology residents at LSU.

“I’m excited to end up at LSU,” Friend said. “It’s going to be great to be two hours from home and to be with fellow South graduates.”

While most medical students will match through the National Resident Matching Program on March 20, students who wish to match in certain specialties such as military and ophthalmology programs participate in a special, earlier match.

Friend, who earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alabama, said he chose ophthalmology after shadowing Christopher Semple, M.D., of Premier Medical in Mobile during his first year of medical school. “What drew me in was retinal surgery,” he said. “I liked the delicate and high-tech nature of the procedures, and the patients you work with are great. It was a good personality fit for me.”

Friend presented research in 2019 examining early immune responses in the cornea at a meeting of the Association for Research in vision and Ophthalmology in Vancouver, British Columba. The project documented immune responses occurring in the cornea of the eye following an infection by the Herpes Simplex Virus. He had worked on the project with Robert Barrington, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the USA College of Medicine.

Friend said his path to one of the most competitive residency programs was not a traditional one. He praised the supportive environment at USA College of Medicine. “It took me three tries to get into medical school,” he said. “Being here, it’s been quite the journey.”

With his match behind him, Friend said that he will be a little more relaxed on Match Day in March. “I’ll already know what my envelope will say,” he said. “But I’ll see other students’ excitement when they match – hopefully with wherever they want to go. It won’t take away from that.”

The USA College of Medicine’s Match Day ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 20, in the Christ Center Gym at Christ United Methodist Church, located at 6101 Grelot Road.

Simmons awarded Faculty Intramural Grants Research Award

Larry Lee, M.D., assistant professor of surgery; Ray Langley, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology; Jon Simmons, M.D., associate professor of surgery and pharmacology; and Michele Schuler, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology, are participating in research that could be transformative for the blood banking industry.
Jon Simmons, M.D., associate professor of surgery and pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was one of five faculty members recently awarded the 2019 USA College of Medicine Faculty Intramural Grants Research Award.

Simmons’ research, titled “The transfusion of inflammatory cellular debris from stored plasma results in proinflammatory signals leading to organ failure,” could be transformative, potentially persuading  the blood banking industry to filter out leukocytes from plasma products prior to use.

The research in this intramural project is essential for establishment of an experimental model of traumatic shock, which is expected to attract further federal and industrial research for the trauma center.

“This project will play a central role in our goal to establish a trauma and critical care research center at USA,” said Simmons, trauma medical director and chief of trauma and acute care surgery at USA Health.

The research in this project incorporates the expertise of several collaborators within the USA Center for Lung Biology, including Larry Lee, M.D., assistant professor of surgery; Michele Schuler, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology; and Ray Langley, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology.

The USA College of Medicine provides seed funding for basic science or translational research through an annual competitive intramural grants program. It is designed to allow faculty to develop new research ideas and develop new critical preliminary data for revised extramural proposal submissions, or to provide bridge funding to enable sustained research progress between extramural grant funding periods.

CLINIC rotations connect textbook material with real-world patients

Pediatrician Matthew Cepeda, M.D., who serves as a CLINIC preceptor for the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, talks with first-year medical student Maria McElyea on the first day of her pediatrics rotation.
Using an otoscope, Jessica Pham, a second-year student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, looked into a pediatric patient’s ears.

There was only one problem: she didn’t know what she was supposed to be looking for, exactly.

Her clinical preceptor, pediatrician Matthew Cepeda, M.D., noticed his student’s hesitation. He later sat down and let her look into his own ear while holding up a picture of an eardrum for reference. Once she understood, Pham became more confident at identifying inflamed eardrums – a condition she saw frequently in her pediatrics rotation.

“I loved how Dr. Cepeda took that much time out of his day to teach me,” Pham said.

He also taught her the importance of tracking growth and milestones at well visits and the proper way to use a stethoscope on a child. “The trick is to drop the diaphragm down the shirt and hold it from the outside to listen for heart sounds,” she said.

Cepeda, a 2003 graduate of the USA College of Medicine, is in private practice in Mobile. He gives back to his alma mater by serving as a preceptor in the Clinically Integrated Introductory Course (CLINIC), which provides first- and second-year medical students experiences in career exploration as they rotate through various specialties such as pediatrics.

Cepeda said his role as a preceptor means “slowing down the pace of practice to allow for teaching and preparing students for what life may look like in the future.” This entails priming his staff to operate in a teaching-friendly environment, preparing families to interact with medical students, and reviewing his patients and conditions ahead of time to develop teaching points.

First-year USA medical student Clay Crout described Cepeda as “an exceptional teacher and an even better physician.”

“He helped me understand how important it is to build good rapport and trust with the patient and the family,” Crout said. “Dr. Cepeda would repeatedly stress this, and it was very beneficial to see the ways that he would put it into practice once he entered the exam room.”

Crout also made a connection between what he encountered in the clinic and the material he was learning in class. “While in the clinic we saw a patient that gave Dr. Cepeda the opportunity to teach me about croup and RSV," he said. "The very next day we learned about croup in class, and I was able to connect the clinical presentation with the pathological cause.”

Maria McElyea, another first-year USA medical student, said while the clinical skills course and simulated patient encounters provide some opportunities to practice their skills, "those patients do not actually present with any illness. So, these rotations out in the field allow us to actually see the problems we will face once we are practicing out in clinic."

The rotations also fill in some of the gaps in their knowledge and help students develop the soft skills needed to be good physicians, McElyea added.

When Elizabeth Minto, M.D., director of clinical skills at the USA College of Medicine, approached Cepeda with the opportunity to become a CLINIC preceptor, he readily jumped on board for the “fun of having students around to talk to, educate and learn from.”

According to students who have rotated with Cepeda, the enthusiasm is mutual.

“Dr. Cepeda is an outstanding human being, and I have a lot of admiration for him as a person,” Pham said. “He reminded me of why I wanted to go to medical school in the first place.”

To learn more about CLINIC or becoming a preceptor, contact Candis Patterson at (251) 460-7139 or cpatterson@southalabama.edu, or Elizabeth Minto, M.D., at leminto@health.southalabama.edu.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Basic Medical Sciences alumna prepares for World Marathon Challenge

Jessica Jones knows about mental toughness.

She earned her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in 2009, while working full time at the Food and Drug Administration laboratory on Dauphin Island.

Now, Jones is about to test her physical toughness, as she prepares to run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.

The World Marathon Challenge starts Feb. 6 with a marathon in Antarctica and ends Feb. 12 with a marathon in Miami. In between, there will be races in South Africa, Australia, Dubai, Spain and Brazil.

Read about Jessica Jones' journey in "One Marathon Won, 183 Miles to Go."

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

USA Health Basketball Game Day set for Jan. 18

Medical students, residents, faculty and staff of the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and USA Health are invited to attend the South Alabama men’s basketball game against Georgia Southern. Game Day is set for 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at the USA Mitchell Center.

Each person is eligible to receive four free tickets for admission to the game. Additional tickets are available for purchase for $3 to $6. Tickets may be held at will call or delivered by email for printing and presenting at the game.

Visit usajaguars.com/usahealthmb to reserve your tickets.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Cook retires after four decades of service to USA College of Medicine

Penny Cook, former manager for the department of physiology and cell biology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, retired Jan. 1, 2020, after 40 years of dedicated service.

Originally hired to file papers in the department of physiology and cell biology, Cook said she never actually filed any papers as her job description noted. “When I arrived, everyone was running around trying to get their posters ready for an annual meeting,” she said. “I jumped right in and volunteered to help them.”

With a minor in art, Cook tapped into her creative side as she designed the posters. “For the first 10 years, I did the research illustrations, line drawings and photography work for their journal publications,” she said.

As technology evolved, Cook soon realized that computers were able to produce the same images that she was developing by hand. Her responsibilities shifted as she started to handle the grants for the department.

“I worked with great people and everyone had a great sense of humor,” she said. “I would not have stayed for 40 years had it not been an enjoyable job with people who know how to work hard, have fun and be friends.”

A day in the life of a postdoctoral research fellow

Postdoctoral research fellow Phoibe Renema, Ph.D., takes digital images of cellular cultures as part of an experiment. 
Phoibe Renema, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in the department of physiology and cell biology, describes her typical day at work as “busy but flexible.”

Renema is responsible for designing and performing experiments for her project, acquiring and analyzing data, writing up her work into publications, and presenting in lab meetings once a week to the lab and collaborators.

Phoibe Renema, Ph.D., discusses her research with faculty, 
other postdoctoral fellows and graduate students.
“A typical day for me starts at 8:30 a.m. when the entire lab meets briefly with our principal investigator to discuss what we have planned for the day, small issues and progress reports,” she said. “After the meeting, I then set up my experiments, check on my cells that I seeded the day before, warm or thaw any media that I will need, and then begin my experiment.”

In addition to her daily tasks to ensure her lab space is running properly, Renema also occasionally teaches a course or gives a lecture in seminars. “My PI and I also meet once a week to discuss my project and progress specifically,” she said. “We go over data figures and edit the manuscript that we are working on at the time.”

Renema recently published a “Did You Know” on the USA Center for Lung Biology’s web page.

Pathology to host Research Seminar Series Jan. 16

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine and the Department of Pathology will host a Research Seminar Series at noon Thursday, Jan. 16, at the Strada Patient Care Center conference room.

Marta M. Lipinski, Ph.D., associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, will present “Lysosomal Damage and Inhibition of Autophagy in Neurotrauma.”

Lunch will be served. All are welcome, and no reservations are required.

Satisfaction high among USA College of Medicine graduates

Reflecting on their satisfaction with their medical education experiences, graduates of the University of South Alabama College of Medicine give their alma mater high marks.

Results from the 2019 Medical School Graduation Questionnaire, administered annually by the Association of American Medical Colleges, showed that 98 percent of graduating students at the USA College of Medicine were satisfied overall with their medical education, compared with 89 percent nationwide.

The stellar results are not new. Satisfaction rates among USA College of Medicine graduates have remained between 92 percent and 98 percent since at least 2014, according to AAMC statistics.

“It is extremely rewarding to see that students value the quality of the educational program put together by a fantastic group of dedicated faculty,” said T.J. Hundley, M.D., associate dean for medical education for the USA College of Medicine.

Hundley praised faculty members for investing time and effort into designing, implementing and continuously improving the medical education program. “Our medical educators work incredibly hard to organize and deliver a high-quality product every year,” he said.

Data from the AAMC questionnaire allow medical schools to monitor trends and address them. “The results are used by course directors, faculty and the curriculum committee to further refine and improve the curriculum,” Hundley said.

Among other results from the 2019 questionnaire:

  • 91 percent of USA College of Medicine students agreed or strongly agreed that basic science education included sufficient illustrations of clinical relevance, compared with 75 percent of students nationally.
  • 91 percent of USA College of Medicine students agreed or strongly agreed that their required clinical experiences integrated basic sciences content, compared with 80 percent of students nationally.
  • 95 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they acquired clinical skills required to begin a residency program, compared with 91 percent of students nationally.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming grand rounds

Mark your calendar for the following grand rounds:

Orthopaedic Surgery Grand Rounds
"Legal Aspects of Practicing Medicine"
Christian Hines, Attorney, Partner with Starnes Davis Florie
7 to 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10
Strada Patient Care Center, 1st Floor Conference Room
Contact: Rhonda Smith at (251) 665-8251 or rhondasmith@health.southalabama.edu

Cardiology Grand Rounds
"Cardiac Catherization Complications"
Siva Chiranjeevi, M.D., Fellow, Division of Cardiology, USA Health University Hospital
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10
Cardiology Conference Room
Contact: Angela Hunt at (251) 471-7923 or arhunt@health.southalabama.edu

Neurology Grand Rounds
8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14
"A Case Report on Progressive Encephalopathy, Parkinsonism and Myodonic Jerk"
Daniel Dees, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology, USA College of Medicine
USA Health University Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Center
Contact: Heather Kelly at (251) 445-8292 or hdkelly@helath.southalabama.edu

Medicine Grand Rounds
"Obscure Causes of Abdominal Pain"
Rufaat Mando, M.D., Gastroenterology PGY6, USA Health
8 to 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 16
USA Health University Hospital, 2nd Floor Conference Center
Contact: Linda Ching at (251) 471-7900 or lching@health.southalabama.edu

Cardiology Grand Rounds
"Anticoagulation in A Fib"
Bassam Omar, M.D., Professor, Division of Cardiology, USA Health University Hospital
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17
Cardiology Conference Room
Contact: Angela Hunt at (251) 471-7923 or arhunt@health.southalabama.edu

Muslims in Medicine interest group addresses physician burnout

Near the interfaith room in the Medical Sciences Building are  medical students Zohaib Ijaz, Arslan Arshad , Dala Eloubeidi, Hadil El-Sharkh and Yousef Omar. 
Whether you use the term “salah” for daily prayer or “shukr” for thankfulness, such spiritual practices can improve the mental well-being of physicians and even their patients.

Arslan Arshad, a member of the Muslims in Medicine interest group at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, took this message to his fellow medical students and then to a wider group of university students this past fall. In a year when research findings describe physician burnout as “a public health crisis,” it was a timely topic.

“Research has demonstrated that overall long-term mental health is optimized more so by finding meaning within life as opposed to simply experiencing pleasant emotions such as happiness,” Arshad said. “While each person can potentially derive meaning from multiple sources during his or her own lifetime, religious experience is often a significant source for worldview development.”

A report released in 2019 by Harvard cited evidence that nearly half of all physicians experience burnout in some form, and that the percentage has worsened since 2016. It said the crisis “urgently demands action.”

The report heightened the national discussion on the importance of wellness for physicians and other healthcare providers.

Arshad, a second-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine, drew parallels between spirituality and positive psychology, and emphasized their impact on mental well-being. For those practicing the Islamic faith, practices would include sabr (patience), shukr (thankfulness), salah (daily prayer), dhikr (Godly remembrance), dua’a (supplication), qadar (divine decree), and recitation of the Quran. “For Muslims, religiosity provides an overarching source of meaning and instruction for one’s daily life,” Arshad said.

The talk opened up a new avenue of thought, one participant told Arshad following the presentation. “The feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

Muslims in Medicine is among several initiatives at the USA College of Medicine that are shining a spotlight on the importance of cultural diversity and inclusion. The interest group says its mission is to provide opportunities for spiritual and academic growth and fellowship among Muslim students and physicians, and serve as a resource to educate others about the faith.

For future physicians, such an understanding is key to treating patients effectively, said Franklin Trimm, M.D., associate dean of diversity and inclusion at the USA College of Medicine. “It is highly likely that healthcare professionals will care for Muslim patients during his or her career,” Trimm said. “Understanding Islamic beliefs will assist professionals in providing care that is culturally competent and thus better address the healthcare needs of Muslim patients.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

USA Health and USA College of Medicine represented in Mobile Bay’s 40 Under 40

Four representatives from USA Health and the University of South Alabama College of Medicine were named to Mobile Bay’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2019. Each year, Mobile Bay recognizes 40 individuals under the age of 40 who demonstrate leadership, professional excellence and a commitment to the Mobile Bay area.

Hanna Alemayehu, M.D., F.A.A.P., is an assistant professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine and a pediatric surgeon with USA Health. Since joining the clinical faculty in 2018, she has made a significant impact on the care of pediatric surgical patients. She recently established a Chest Wall Deformity Clinic at USA Health, which not only provides the most advanced equipment but also dramatically reduces pain for a historically painful procedure. Alemayehu is working to create a medical mission trip that will aid under-served communities in her home country of Kenya.

Brittany Brown, RN, MSN, is director of operations for internal medicine at USA Health. She is responsible for the management and direction of all aspects of operation for more than 15 specialty clinics, where her professionalism, passion and leadership shine through. An avid member of Aubreigh’s Army, Brown raised more than $15,000 for St. Baldricks Foundation. She also works with local high-schoolers on resume writing, interview skills and career-focused concepts.

LoRen Burroughs Modisa, MPA, is the diversity coordinator at the USA College of Medicine. She works to highlight pathways to medical school for students historically disenfranchised from STEM careers and strives to find ways in which to illuminate and celebrate the differences that make each member of the College of Medicine unique. Modisa served as a health policy and advocacy intern for the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation before joining the Peace Corps for two years as an HIV/AIDS civil society capacity building volunteer in Botswana.

Jeremy Towns is a fourth-year student at the USA College of Medicine. A former NFL player, he had stints with the Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles. The Radical Athlete and Student Oasis Ministry (RANSOM), of which Towns is founder, is a student organization whose mission is to spread the news of Christ. The organization has spread to four colleges and is quickly growing. In addition to being a medical student, Towns gives back to the community through speaking engagements.

View the full list of this year's honorees.

Student-Run Free Clinic makes an impact in 2019

Two of the biggest challenges facing many patients are access to healthcare and health literacy. The University of South Alabama Student-Run Free Clinic (SRFC) helps to bridge this gap for under-served individuals in Mobile.

Under the guidance of preceptors, the student-led teams are able to spend more time explaining the complex conditions patients face compared to the time spent during a typical clinical office visit. In addition, the interdisciplinary approach at SRFC helps ensure patient problems are talked about from multiple angles, which allows both patients and students to learn about the healthcare problems many Mobilians face.

According to the clinic's 2019 impact report, new services offered this past year at the USA SRFC included:
  • Free HIV screenings through partnership with AIDS Alabama
  • Free dental screenings through partnership with Franklin Primary Health Center
  • New occupational therapy-driven pediatric evaluation and treatment program focused on appropriate physical, mental and social development at Salvation Army Family Haven
  • Innovative ambulant clinic where SRFC directly provided care to Spanish-speaking patients in the community through partnership with the Medical Spanish Interest Group and local nonprofit BELONG
  • In-house physicals and documentation for those beginning rehab programs at Salvation Army
See more of the SRFC's impact in the infographic below:

Ravi Rajendra, co-president of the USA SRFC, said, "Our success this past year would not have been possible without the hard work of our interdisciplinary student-led board."

The board included:
  • Faculty Advisor: Alison Rudd, Ed.D., FNP-C, operations director of the USA SRFC and assistant director of the USA Simulation Program
  • Co-President: Ravi Rajendra (USA College of Medicine M3)
  • Co-President: Cameron Clary (AU Harrison School of Pharmacy P3)
  • Vice President: Amanda Alstatt (AU HSOP P3)
  • Secretary: Madeline Tucker (USA COM M2)
  • Treasurer: Jake Rosner (USA COM M3)
  • Outreach Coordinator: Lexie Hensley (USA COM M2)
  • Volunteer Coordinator: Caitlin Henderson (AU HSOP P3)
  • Research Coordinator: Eric Midenberg (USA COM M3)
  • SGA Liaison: Corey Phillis (USA COM M2)
  • Audiology Liaison: Jamie Watts
  • Occupational Therapy Liaison: Liz Artall
  • Medicine Liaison: Greg Overbeek (USA COM M2)
  • Pharmacy Liaison: Katie Murphy (AU HSOP P2)
  • Physician Assistant Liaison: Ashleigh Ledet
  • Physical Therapy Liaison: Mason Baker
  • Nursing Liaison: Aly Smith