Thursday, November 15, 2012

USA Department of Family Medicine Receives Funding to Improve Primary Care Delivery

Dr. Carol Motley, associate professor of family medicine at the USA College of Medicine, directed a grant that seeks to improve the understanding of primary care among students during their first two years of medical school.
In Alabama, our state's health care delivery system is challenged with a shortage of primary physicians. Since the inception of the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, the USA department of family medicine has made significant progress in addressing this shortage through its training program.

Recently, the department was awarded several grants to support this effort.

Dr. Allen Perkins, professor and chair of the department of family medicine, said that the USA College of Medicine received funding to improve primary care in two different arenas that will help to make medical students and residents better family doctors. The college’s family practice and community medicine unit has been awarded almost $400,000 from both the Alabama Family Practice Rural Health Board and the Health Resources and Services Administration to improve primary care delivery by making curriculum changes in the department’s medical school and residency programs.

The changes are intended to increase the number of students pursuing family medicine and will aid in the transformation of the practice in preparation for new expectations of health care delivery.

“With better health care delivery, people in our region will live longer and be healthier,” said Dr. Perkins. “The role of the family physician is an important part of health care, focusing on prevention and organizing appropriate care when needed.”

The two grants that support activities in the medical school total $239,613 and seek to improve the understanding of primary care among students during their first two years of medical school. Directed by Dr. Carol Motley, associate professor of family medicine at the USA College of Medicine, the first grant creates specific cases that identify and highlight primary care as a means of improving care for different patients in the new curriculum. The second segment develops a new curriculum in early patient care, where the students have the opportunity to go into remote primary care offices and learn how to deliver care in a geographically underserved setting.

“We want the students to learn how to deliver care in underserved areas so when they graduate from medical school they have a working understanding of health care in this setting,” said Dr. Perkins.

Both changes in curriculum are meant to address the shortage of primary care physicians and create an environment where family medicine is a sought-after specialty. Dr. Perkins said this represents a window of opportunity to put in place early contact for first and second-year medical students with primary care clinical experiences to initiate innovative strategies and models of teaching.

Directed by Dr. Perkins, the third grant totals $151,537 and will allow the residency program to be more focused on delivering care differently by redesigning the entire practice to deliver care with a patient-centered focus. With the United States facing a historic shift in health care and the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, there will be increased emphasis on the quality of care tied directly to outcomes rather than services alone.

Dr. Perkins said there are several variations of health care delivery in the United States, and those areas of the country with more primary care physicians have lower costs and improved patient outcomes.

“Medicine in the United States has become fragmented and inefficient, and studies have identified that this accounts for 20 percent of health care costs,” said Dr. Perkins. “The good news is that the Affordable Care Act will further emphasize the important role of primary care, which will help reduce waste and inefficiencies.”

Dr. Perkins said more care is not necessarily better care, and more and more patients appreciate the practice of evidence-based care.

According to Dr. Perkins, these grants will help prepare the family physician to provide the best care possible amid changes in our health care delivery system.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

USA Biomedical Librarian Approved For Membership in Academy of Health Information Professionals

Trey Lemley, associate librarian at the University of South Alabama Biomedical Library, was recently approved for membership in the Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP) at the Distinguished Member level.

AHIP is the Medical Library Association’s peer-reviewed professional development and career recognition credentialing program. The academy promotes lifelong learning and exemplary professional performance by recognizing achievements in continuing education, teaching, publishing and research.

The Distinguished Member level is the highest of the five levels of AHIP and requires significant professional accomplishment in the last five years, along with a relevant graduate degree and at least 10 years of professional experience in the health information field.

According to Judy Burnham, director of the USA Biomedical Library, all biomedical librarians at USA are members of AHIP – with four members at the Distinguished level, two at the Senior level, and two at the Member level.

Lemley said he has been a member of AHIP since 2010. “For me,” he said, “AHIP is a means to increase my effectiveness as an information professional and to demonstrate my commitment to the field of medical librarianship.”

November Med School Café - 'Pulmonary Hypertension: The Other BP'

The November Med School Café lecture will feature Dr. Karen Fagan, associate professor of internal medicine and pharmacology and chief of the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine, and Dr. Ivan McMurtry, professor of pharmacology and internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

Their lecture, titled “Pulmonary Hypertension: The Other BP,” will take place Nov. 29, 2012, at the USA Faculty Club on USA’s main campus. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., and the presentation begins at noon.

Dr. Fagan is a physician scientist with a special interest in pulmonary hypertension, a disorder of the lungs in which the pressure in the pulmonary artery – the blood vessel that leads from the heart to the lungs – rises above normal levels and may become life threatening.

Dr. McMurtry is a basic researcher who has been studying pulmonary hypertension for many years. His discoveries have led to the development of many treatments currently used in the care of pulmonary hypertension patients.
Dr. Ivan McMurtry

Drs. Fagan and McMurtry’s talk will focus on the pathway of research to the clinical setting. To illustrate this concept, they will highlight the translational research – or scientific research that involves the translation of science conducted in a lab to bedside clinical practice – that takes place at USA.

The Med School Café lecture and lunch are provided free of charge, but reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, please call Kim Partridge at (251) 460-7770 or e-mail

Med School Café is a free community lecture series sponsored by the USA Physicians Group. Each month, faculty from the USA College of Medicine share their expertise on a specific medical condition, providing insight on the latest treatment available.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Veterans Day 2012: Honoring Our Heroes

Dr. Sidney Brevard (pictured above), associate professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine, recently spoke at a Veterans Day ceremony at St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile. Dr. Brevard retired after 26 years as an Air Force Colonel. 
Veterans Day was this past Sunday - a day we pay tribute to all our veterans living and deceased who gave a part of their life to preserve our country’s freedom.

Many veterans are also our co-workers and friends. One of our very own veterans is Dr. Sidney Brevard, associate professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine, who retired after 26 years as an Air Force colonel.

Dr. Brevard said he decided to join the military as a means of paying for school, but decided to stay because his experiences were extremely rewarding. “For me it was very positive,” he said. “I enjoyed being part of a team on patriotic missions, and that was what made the weeks and months we spent far away from home worthwhile.”

Dr. Brevard, who spoke at a Veterans Day ceremony at St. Paul’s Episcopal School this week, has been deployed multiple times to different countries throughout his career. He has served in various deployments in the Middle East, as well as countries in Africa and Asia. He said it was a challenge being away from his family. “It was tough, but my wife has also served in the Air Force, and she knew part of the relationship was going to be time apart,” he said.

Dr. Brevard said his experience in the military has helped him develop into the surgeon he is today. “I do exactly the same thing now that I was doing in the military,” he said. “I was a trauma surgeon in the field and performed surgery on U.S. and NATO personnel in combat, and now I do the same for citizens of the Gulf Coast that need my help.”

“Veterans Day is about respecting the people that came before us who suffered a much harsher war than we ever have and giving them the respect they deserve for the sacrifices they’ve made for all of us,” Dr. Brevard added.

Mel Leggett (left) and Tommie Carlisle (right)
Another veteran now with the USA Health System is Tommie Carlisle, coordinator for health services operations, who retired after 21 years as an Army master sergeant. “I felt obligated as an American to serve and give back to our country,” he said. “I have a long-standing family history of military, and I felt a calling because this is the greatest country in the world.”

Carlisle said the Army afforded him many opportunities, like training and funding to get a civilian education. “I enjoyed being trained in the field I am in today, and the Army helped me get a couple of degrees and additional training to go with it.”

Carlisle did an array of jobs in the Army. He was a combat medic before he went to school for physical therapy. After that he moved to a managerial field in the department of orthopaedics and surgery, where he gained experience with personnel and finance. He also spent time as an Army recruiter. “I helped a lot of people enhance their own lives as a recruiter, and I was nominated as recruiter of the year because I was able to put in more soldiers than any other in the history of the Army,” he said. “That was something I was very proud of.”

According to Carlisle, Veterans Day is a time that Americans should embrace veterans who go above and beyond to ensure our country’s freedom.

“Americans should stand up and salute the sacrifice that so many men and women have made in the past,” he said. “We as Americans should be grateful that they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend America to the end, because freedom isn’t free. Somewhere along the line someone has paid the price.”

Another of our veterans is Mel Leggett, practice director of internal medicine and neurology at the University of South Alabama, who retired as a colonel after 26 years serving the United States Army.

Leggett said one of the reasons he began his journey at age 19 with an Army ROTC scholarship was because of how he was raised. “My father was a retired Navy officer, so it seemed like an exciting and very interesting career,” he said. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army at age 22.

Leggett was deployed to Korea in 1978, and he said his experience in the Army translated directly to being a health care administrator. “That’s what my job was in the Army,” said Leggett. “It was always interesting, and I was able to live a lot of places and see the world.”

In his eyes, Veterans Day is a day of reflection. “It is a day that Americans should reflect on what it takes to be free,” he said.

Dr. Clare Carney
Dr. Clare Carney, a resident physician at USA and a captain in the Army National Guard, has served for three years, and she is very proud of her accomplishments so far.

“I always thought about joining the service because my father and brother were in the military,” she said. “I really liked the guard because they are involved in national relief projects here at home.”

Dr. Carney said that the guard helped her pay for her student loans and assisted her funding for medical training. She is in the medical field in the guard as well, and provides health care for local soldiers. “It is a different perspective on the Army side, but the whole experience has been wonderful and exciting,” she said.