Posts Tagged UAB

Reducing Physician Burnout Focus of New Study at UAB

Reducing Physician Burnout Focus of New Study at UAB

BIRMINGHAM – A program to study and reduce physician burnout amongst residents will be introduced at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, along with three other hospitals around the nation. The five-year, $1.8 million grant is funded by the American Medical Association.

UAB’s Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program shares the grant with Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and Stanford University School of Medicine. The award supports the study of key factors that contribute to the well-being and clinical skills of internal medicine residents across different training programs.

“We are excited to be a part of this important study,” said Lisa Willett, M.D., professor of medicine at UAB and program director of the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program. “The learning environment is critical to the professional development of physicians in training. With this study, we hope to identify the key elements of the learning environment that shape the professional development of residents, while ensuring they are able to spend meaningful time at the bedside caring for patients.”

Information gathered from the early years of the study will help educators better understand that training environment. Once factors that affect the residency training environment are identified, new techniques to reduce physician burnout and improve clinical skills will be tested. The final years of the study aim to improve resident wellness and clinical skills.

Working with the residency program to implement the AMA “Reimagining Residency” grant will be Stephen W. Russell, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics, and KeAndrea Titer, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine.

“The Tinsley Harrison residency program is already taking steps to enhance the clinical skills of residents by offering formative skills assessments with real-time feedback,” Dr. Russell said. “The hope is that by collaborating with other leading universities, UAB will continue to investigate and implement the best practices of resident education and that knowledge can be generalized to other programs.”

Dr. Russell will represent UAB on the grant’s executive committee as well as oversee the outpatient formative assessments of clinical skills. As a recent chief medical resident at UAB and new faculty in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Dr. Titer will oversee the bedside rounding initiative at UAB as well as lead local resident engagement.

“This grant, along with graduate medical education leadership, will not only serve to increase wellness in our trainees,” Dr. Titer said, “but also continually improve upon the delivery of excellence in patient care that they provide each day.”

The Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program serves as one of more than 20 residency programs within UAB graduate medical education. The residency program comprises 116 categorical residents and 16 combined Medicine-Pediatrics residents, providing care at UAB Hospital and the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center (BVAMC). During training, residents acquire clinical acumen for the diagnosis and management of common acute and chronic medical illnesses as well as rare diseases that involve complex clinical reasoning. This grant will aid in the continual development of physicians who demonstrate excellence in clinical skills and compassion in patient care.

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Curry Named Local Governor of National Doctors’ Group

Curry Named Local Governor of National Doctors’ Group

BIRMINGHAM — William A. Curry, M.D., has been named governor of the Alabama Chapter of the American College of Physicians, the national organization of internists. Dr. Curry is a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and associate dean for Primary Care and Rural Health at the UAB School of Medicine.

The Board of Governors is an advisory board to the ACP Board of Regents, and implements national projects in addition to representing members at the national level. Dr. Curry’s term began during the Internal Medicine Meeting 2019, ACP’s annual scientific meeting held in Philadelphia from April 11-13.

A resident of Birmingham, Dr. Curry earned his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and became a master of ACP in 2017. Election to mastership recognizes outstanding and extraordinary career accomplishments.

Governors are elected by local ACP members and serve four-year terms. Working with a local council, they supervise ACP chapter activities, appoint members to local committees and preside at regional meetings. They also represent members by serving on the ACP Board of Governors.

Within the Alabama Chapter of ACP, Dr. Curry has served on the Chapter Council and Awards Committee, which he also chaired.

Dr. Curry is a past president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama and has been a member of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and the Alabama State Committee of Public Health.

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ProAssurance Establishes the Nation’s First Academic Research Program Dedicated to Physician Wellness

ProAssurance Establishes the Nation’s First Academic Research Program Dedicated to Physician Wellness

BIRMINGHAM – ProAssurance Corporation has announced the establishment of the ProAssurance Endowed Chair for Physician Wellness at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This academic chair is the first of its kind in the United States and demonstrates ProAssurance’s commitment to its role as a leading advocate for America’s physicians.

The initial $1.5 million gift to the UAB School of Medicine will endow an academic chair and also will support a research team dedicated to addressing health issues unique to physicians as they deal with the stress and pressures associated with providing care to their patients in today’s rapidly evolving health care environment.

As he announced the gift, ProAssurance Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stan Starnes underscored the importance of the research that will emerge.

“Physicians have always been subject to the high levels of stress from a variety of factors such as society’s expectations for successful outcomes, the threat of litigation and the effect of their professional obligations on the quality of their lives, and their families’ lives. As medicine evolves to address the changing dynamics of health care in America, we must find ways to address these pressures,” Starnes said.

“UAB leadership is committed at the highest level to provide our physicians, residents, fellows and trainees the same type of world-class care they provide for the citizens of Alabama and beyond every day,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “This generous investment by ProAssurance to fund a first-of-its-kind academic chair will enable us to recruit an expert in the field of physician wellness who can implement well-designed interventions that enhance our sustainable culture of wellness and provide trainees with tools and resources to manage stress and burnout. The result will be more engaged physicians who can provide the highest-quality care to their patients.”

ProAssurance also expects to provide an additional gift of $500,000 to fund various initiatives in support of physician wellness. The company’s Chief Medical Officer, Hayes V. Whiteside, M.D., said such programs are a logical extension of ProAssurance’s role as a trusted partner with physicians and the nation’s health care community.

“Assisting physicians has always been a high priority for ProAssurance. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that today’s physicians maintain their commitment to our high calling, and that future physicians are equipped to deal with the realities of their vital chosen profession,” Dr. Whiteside said.

“We are fortunate to have some of the best physicians in America right here in Birmingham as part of our School of Medicine, and it is important that we consistently work to provide them an environment that promotes wellness opportunities to help them flourish in their field,” said Selwyn Vickers, M.D., Senior Vice President of Medicine and Dean of UAB’s School of Medicine. “Doctors who take care of themselves are better role models for their patients and for their children, have higher patient satisfaction and safety scores, experience less stress and burnout, and live longer. We are grateful to ProAssurance for their gift, which will greatly enhance our training programs and enable them to create a sustainable culture of wellness.”

In addition to the funds being committed to addressing physician wellness, ProAssurance plans to make an additional financial gift to the UAB School of Nursing to enhance the future of nursing care in Alabama. “Nurses are a crucial part of the care delivery team in our state, and their role will become increasingly important as our healthcare delivery systems expand to meet the demands that will come with the exponential growth of an aging population,” said Starnes.

“Nursing is one of the most versatile — and vital — occupations in the health care workforce, and we strive to train innovative leaders who will transform health care,” said Doreen Harper, Ph.D., Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in UAB’s School of Nursing. “The ever-evolving landscape of health care and the changing profile of the population demand a fundamental shift in the health care system to provide patient-centered care. More nurses will be needed to deliver primary care and community care, ensure seamless care, foster interprofessional collaboration and enable all health professionals to practice to the full extent of their education, training and competencies. This shift will result in reduced errors, increased safety and the highest-quality care for patients. We are delighted and appreciative that ProAssurance is providing this support to help us shape patient-centered health care by preparing recognized nurse leaders who excel as clinicians, researchers and educators in Alabama, nationally and internationally.”

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Always Do Something You Enjoy with Suzanne Blaylock, M.D.

Always Do Something You Enjoy with Suzanne Blaylock, M.D.

TUSCUMBIA – When you walk into Dr. Suzanne Blaylock’s office at the Helen Keller Pavilion, there’s a medical journal on her desk, paused and waiting for her to return to continue reading the most recent article. On the wall behind her chair are framed reminders of why she choose anesthesiology as her specialty – awards recognizing her from the Peer Reviewed Professionals, the Consumers’ Research Council of America as one of America’s Top Anesthesiologists, and the Consumers’ Research Council of America’s Top Physicians. Dr. Blaylock always knew she’d have a career in medicine, but what she got was so much more.

“I started out in the medical field as a nurse,” Dr. Blaylock explained. “My father had taken nursing courses back in his day, but it wasn’t for him. He suggested I take the courses and he’d pay for them. I knew I wanted to do something in the sciences because I’ve always felt I had that mindset for it.”

After getting her Associate’s degree in Chattanooga, she moved to Birmingham and worked at Carraway Hospital. She started working toward her Bachelor’s degree when someone suggested the idea of a career in anesthesia. It wasn’t long before she realized that maybe a turn toward medical school would be a better choice.

“I really liked working in anesthesia, I mean, that was definitely the specialty I wanted to work in. But back then, as an anesthesia nurse, there was no real way to move up other than to become a doctor. So, I went back to UAB and started taking night classes,” Dr. Blaylock said.

Her experience as a nurse was definitely a valuable one, especially in the hospital setting as a medical student. Procedures, terminology and the day-to-day operation of a hospital were easier for her with her background and helped provide a better direction through medical school, she said. And, she continues to draw on those experiences even now when students from the state’s medical schools come to work with her and her colleagues.

“We get students from ACOM to come up and work with us, and that’s really good experience but not just for them. We enjoy getting to work with our students, because it gives all of us a chance to express ourselves in what we do every day, plus everyone gets a learning opportunity. Not only do these students learn from us, but surprisingly, there are some things we can learn from them. All the medical schools here in this state are just superb, but I think the students get a great perspective when they visit rural areas like Tuscumbia that are either on the cusp of revitalization or trying to expand to help their residents,” Dr. Blaylock said.

As settled in as she may be into the Tuscumbia area, one might easily take Dr. Blaylock for a small town girl. You’d be absolutely correct. Originally from a small town just outside of Chattanooga, her small town roots run deep…and so do her stories of home.

“My mother was a baker, and she worked at Little Debbie in Chattanooga. In fact, I went to school with Little Debbie, and I worked there, too!” she laughed. “Mom used to hand roll those cakes in the bakery. I worked in the micro lab. The first course I took right out of high school was microbiology, and there was a microbiology lab right there in the bakery. Little Debbie was really very innovative for its time. All the ingredients were tested for things like salmonella or mold counts on the chocolate, and then we’d go out and test the finished cookies. I’m sure companies do this now, but back then no one else did. The thing about Little Debbie – that finished product never had a germ on it!”

So, working in the best little bakery in the South right out of high school was probably the most amazing job in the world for a teenager, right? Absolutely! Dr. Blaylock said it was a dream job, but it probably contributed to her weight problem that followed her through her adult years. Like many medical professionals, eating a balanced diet may be with the best of intentions, but it may not always be what happens during the day.

“I had gotten out of shape, and I had always struggled with my weight. You try to diet, but you stop and start and stop and start, and then you just feel desperate because nothing is working. So a friend asked me to go to Weight Watchers with her. I thought I could just do this now, or I’m not going to do it at all. We had a dynamic leader, and my friend and I did it on the buddy system. Then it became more of a habit than a chore. Unfortunately for us in the medical field, we tend to eat prophylactically. It’s like, ‘I’d better eat now because I don’t know when I’ll get another chance!’” she laughed. “I ended up losing over a hundred pounds, but I didn’t keep it all off because now I have more muscle. I started working out more at the gym. I guess I must be highly suggestable because a friend at the gym suggested I do some triathlons. And then my coach suggested I try body building.”

Yes, body building, which Dr. Blaylock calls “a good hobby and a good stress reliever.” In fact, last year she became the 2016 National Physique Committee Masters Over 60 Figure Champion, and she’s competing again to defend her title in Puerto Rico later this month.

“If I had started doing body building in my 20s, I might be a coach now with endorsements, but it’s not like I’m going to try out for the Olympics,” Dr. Blaylock laughed. “I’m certainly not going to quit my day job, but it’s a lot of fun and I enjoy competing. Everyone should be able to do something for themselves that they enjoy.”

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From the Treatment Room to the Classroom with Wick Many, M.D.

From the Treatment Room to the Classroom with Wick Many, M.D.

MONTGOMERY — He jokes about it now, but Wick Many, M.D., said he was a sickly child who spent a lot of time in his pediatrician’s office. For those times when he was too sick, his doctor would make house calls…an experience he did not look forward to.

“Back then, in the 1950s, pediatricians would come out to your house at the end of the day. They would spend all day in their clinics seeing children, but then for those who were really sick, they would make house calls. I was scared to death!” Dr. Many laughed. “The doctor would come in with his big brown doctor’s bag, and that usually meant I was going to get a shot of something. That was my first recollection of medicine.”

Dr. Many grew up around medicine. A native of New Orleans, his mother was the paging operator at what was then the Southern Baptist Hospital of New Orleans. Because she worked night or evening shifts and couldn’t come home for dinner, family dinners were often taken on the ER ramp.

“No one in my family had a medical background, but at some point in high school, I decided this was what I wanted to do. I didn’t have an A-HA moment or an epiphany, it’s just what I knew I wanted to do,” Dr. Many said.

Although he went to LSU for his undergraduate degree, he intended to stay close to home for medical school until a friend who was accepted to UAB talked him into joining him in Birmingham. Once convinced of UAB’s credibility as a medical school, he had to convince his colleagues back home in Louisiana.

“This was the late 1960s, and my colleagues who were at LSU just didn’t understand,” Dr. Many explained. “Alabama? Birmingham? What? They just didn’t get it. I stayed at UAB for the rest of my time except for a year when I went to Dallas. I’ve been affiliated with UAB in some way, shape or form since 1980.”

Although trained in infectious disease, there came a time when Dr. Many’s marketing skills were put to the test when he was approached with an opportunity to step into the spotlight and bring some publicity to the UAB School of Medicine Montgomery Regional Medical Campus.

WSFA-12 had run a syndicated medical segment for years with Houston’s Dr. James “Red” Duke, Jr. When that syndication ended, Dr. Many stepped in, not only to provide helpful medical information to viewers but also for the sake of the Montgomery UAB campus.

“Even to this day – TO THIS DAY – there are a lot of people who do not know there is a residency program and a branch campus here in Montgomery,” Dr. Many said. “I can still go to the bank or the post office and folks will ask me if I drive down from Birmingham every day, and I have to tell them no, no, no. UAB has been in Montgomery since 1978, but the majority of the people here in the region still don’t know that. We haven’t done a lot of advertising or marketing because we haven’t had the funding for it.”

As dean of medicine for the UAB School of Medicine Montgomery Regional Medical Campus, Dr. Many is responsible for about 40 medical students, roughly 20 third-year and 20 fourth-year students. There’s still much room to grow, but Dr. Many said the Montgomery campus is unique considering the resources he and his staff utilize to give the students a well-rounded medical education. For example, in the eight weeks students spend working in the family medicine “block,” four of those weeks are spent in Montgomery with another four in Selma. Part of the time spent in Selma is then spent in Marion with the idea that each step further removes the students from what they have become accustomed to in medical school.

“The purpose of that is to give them an appreciation of not only the opportunities of practicing in a rural setting but also the challenges so that in the future if they decide not to do that they have a better appreciation for what family physicians in that position actually do. I call it ‘intellectual isolation.’ Everyone likes to share stories. If you’re a solo practitioner in a very small town, and you have a patient that comes to you with something weird that you haven’t seen since medical school, who do you talk to? Physicians in more metropolitan areas are fortunate because we have grand rounds, lectures, and of course the Internet has made a difference, but in the most rural of our communities, we don’t have these things,” Dr. Many said.

The Montgomery campus also utilizes resources unique to Montgomery for special teaching opportunities. Representatives from the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state forensics lab, military physicians and representatives from the Montgomery Police Department all have a special take on medicine that can’t be taught in the classroom but aspects of medicine that new physicians need to understand.

Considering all his contributions to the medical landscape in the River Region and to UAB, it’s difficult to picture medicine without Dr. Many. But in his junior year in college, he also took a different path.

“I came very close to changing my major to history my junior year in college,” Dr. Many said. “If I wasn’t a physician, I’d be a college history professor. I love to read, but I don’t read fiction. I read biographies of our presidents and historical figures. My favorite book is the biography of Alexander Hamilton. He has to this day had an impact on our country. He created the financial system of the United States yet he had so many flaws. Fascinating!”

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