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State Committee of Public Health Appoints New State Health Officer

State Committee of Public Health Appoints New State Health Officer

The State Committee of Public Health has appointed Dr. Scott Harris as Alabama’s 12th state health officer, effective Feb. 21.

“I feel honored and privileged that the State Committee of Public Health granted me this opportunity to address the state’s health care needs and challenges,” Dr. Harris said.

Dr. Harris brings a wide range of knowledge and extensive experience that includes more than 19 years in private practice to his position. A graduate of Harding University in Arkansas, he attended medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and served his residency and internship at Carraway Methodist Medical Center before returning to UAB to complete a fellowship in infectious diseases. In 2017, he was awarded a master’s degree in public health from the UAB School of Public Health with a concentration in health policy.

Dr. Harris practiced infectious disease medicine at Decatur General Hospital and Parkway Medical Center. He served on the Medical Executive Committee, medicine department chairman and director of multiple committees including infection control, pharmacy and therapeutics, and the surgical care improvement project. He is past chairman and current member of the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation.

In 2005, he became medical director at the Decatur-Morgan Community Free Clinic. The non-profit clinic offers health care and dental care at no charge to low income, medically uninsured local residents. The clinic relies heavily on volunteers, including community members. Dr. Harris also has served on many international medical missions to Central America, South America and Africa.

In 2015, Dr. Harris joined the Alabama Department of Public Health as area health officer for seven North Alabama counties. For the past six months, he has served as acting state health officer and currently co-chairs the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council.

The Talladega native is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, Infectious Disease Society of America, and a credentialed HIV specialist, American Academy of HIV Medicine.

The ADPH employs approximately 3,000 and has an annual budget of $694 million.

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Alabama Physician Health Program Announces Reorganization

Alabama Physician Health Program Announces Reorganization

The Alabama Physician Health Program, the Medical Association’s confidential resource for physicians and other medical professionals with potentially impairing conditions or illnesses, recently announced a reorganization and new staff to better protect the health, safety and welfare of those it serves.

The APHP provides confidential consultation and support to physicians, physician’s assistants, residents and medical students facing concerns related to alcoholism, substance abuse, physical illness and behavioral or mental health issues. It monitors an average of 280 physicians in Alabama at any given time. These physicians, whether self-referred or mandated, many initially may be hesitant to come forward for help, soon learn the APHP is their best advocate. Now, the APHP has even more staff and physicians available to assist when medical professionals need help.

MEET THE STAFF

Director

Robert C. Hunt, D.Min, ASAM, LPC

Medical Director

Sandra L. Frazier, M.D., FASAM

Associate Medical Directors

James H. Alford, M.D.

Daniel M. Avery, Jr., M.D., FACOG, FACS

Jill Billions, M.D., ABAM, FASAM

APHP Case Manager

Fay McDonnell

APHP Program Coordinator

Caro Louise Jehle

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Organized Medicine: Why Physician Membership is More Important Now than Ever Before.

Organized Medicine: Why Physician Membership is More Important Now than Ever Before.

“There’s strength in numbers” is a saying we all know well. Whereas one person can say something, it becomes a much more powerful display when more people join together in support or protest.

In the past, it was not unusual for physicians to be members of their county medical society, specialty society, state medical association, national specialty society, and national medical association, but these days those numbers are waning. When the practice of medicine seems to be changing almost daily, support for organized medicine as a whole seems to be dropping during a time at which patients and their physicians need help more than ever before.

The 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns & Perspectives conducted on behalf of The Physicians Foundation by Merritt Hawkins, captured a snapshot of what the nation’s physicians think about the state of medical care today. Some of the findings were enlightening.

  • 80 percent of physicians are at capacity or have no time to see new patients
  • 49 percent of physicians often have feelings of burnout
  • 28 percent of physicians are only somewhat unfamiliar with MACRA
  • 49 percent of physicians would not recommend a career in medicine
  • 42 percent of physicians agree that EHRs have either reduced or detracted from their ability to deliver quality care

Ideally, physician membership in organized medicine would increase during difficult times facing the House of Medicine – times in which medicine is facing more intrusion by government regulation and restriction on how physicians can and do practice medicine, and the protection of patients’ rights. However, it would seem more physicians are moving away from the strength-in-numbers unified front that organized medicine provides to policymakers and replacing it with conflicting voices.

For example, in the 1950s, about 75 percent of all practicing physicians in the United States were members of the American Medical Association. According to a December 2016 article by Mother Jones online, its membership now is representative of about one-sixth of the nation’s physicians. So, where are all the physicians going?

What is the role of organized medicine?

Organized medicine groups are groups of physicians categorized into physician, young physician, resident and medical student sections. Each section works together to advocate collectively on behalf of the physician-patient relationship, patients’ rights, and medicine as a whole, but then each individual group works together to advocate for their section’s interests.

Giving physicians and medical students a voice in the business of medicine allows physicians to advocate for the best quality of care for their patients and ensures physicians are also treated fairly on the state and national levels.

In some cases, many young physicians may not even know about options to join organizations such as the AMA, the Medical Association, or even their local county medical society until the organization reaches out to them or a colleague mentions it. In Dr. Amber Clark’s case, it was a trip to an AMA meeting in Chicago that opened her eyes to the potential for organized medicine.

Dr. Amber Clark, who is in her second year of residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, knew she wanted to be a physician since she was a little girl watching her pharmacist mother interact with her customers. But, even back then she knew she wanted more from her chosen profession.

female doctor smiling

“I always wanted that one-on-one relationship with patients, but (going to) Chicago introduced me to this concept of how we can make changes on more than just an individual basis but a population basis. That’s meaningful change!” Dr. Clark said. “It really is the responsibility of the physician, whether you’re in medical school or still in training or have completed your residency, to be a voice for yourself and your patient. Yes, we’re going to have more members that are going to be more vocal, that’s just the nature of life, but it’s still important to be one of those speaking out and being heard.”

Dr. Clark’s trip to Chicago was “mind-blowing,” allowing her to serve as an alternate delegate for the first time. Because the AMA trip to Chicago was her first introduction to organized medicine on a national stage, she did not know what to expect, which made for an even better experience.

“You have this collegiality of residents from all different walks of life and all different types of programs all coming together for one specific cause. We’re all advocating on behalf of our patients, but we’re also advocating on behalf of ourselves. There are so many other things that go on during these meetings behind the scenes that many physicians don’t know about because they don’t attend, but you assume people are advocating on your behalf. You can’t ever assume someone is fighting for you. You have to be willing to speak up. It just makes sense to participate,” Dr. Clark said.

Staying connected.

Across the country, organized medicine is having difficulty attracting and keeping members. As state and national membership organizations continue to add member benefits to entice members to stay connected, the number of physicians who are leaving the larger organizations for the smaller specialty societies seems to be increasing.

While there are still benefits of joining specialty societies, the larger membership organizations are left feeling the blow in their ranks…which means less bargaining power when it comes to negotiating on behalf of medicine.

Dr. Conrad Pierce has seen firsthand the power that comes with large membership organizations. He has seen it work well…and he has seen how it can fall apart when the members of the organization cannot manage its collective bargaining power.

About a year after he retired, Dr. Pierce began working for then-Sen. Jeff Sessions as a health care policy advisor when the Affordable Care Act was making its way through Congress. It was an arduous job trying to understand the proposed legislation, but condensing it down for someone not in medicine to understand was just as difficult.

“Legislators don’t know or understand much about medicine,” Dr. Pierce explained. “We all have to admit what we don’t know. Physicians know about medicine, so it only makes sense for physicians to be the ones to inform our policymakers about health care. Physicians are on the health care battle lines, out there taking care of their patients, helping them make those decisions that are truly life or death decisions for their families. Physicians have clout when we talk to our legislators. We can make them understand, in simple terms, the most complex issues in medicine. We do this every day when we discuss medical situations with our patients. If I have a patient with cancer, I can discuss that situation with my patient and explain the prognosis and treatment options. So, I should be able to discuss exactly why something in a proposed piece of legislation is either very good or very bad and how it will affect my patients and my practice. If we as physicians cannot talk to our legislators about medicine, where do you think they are going to get this information? From very biased people who could give them very bad advice,” Dr. Pierce said.

But, getting that seat at the negotiating table takes time, and this, according to Dr. Pierce and other physicians, is where associations like the Medical Association come in and take a leadership role to make the negotiation process easier.

male doctor smiling

“Doctors are busy, literally working 60-100 hours a week in some cases, easily working more than the average person. So, it’s hard for them to take time out of their family life or professional life to get involved in organized medicine. But that’s absolutely why they should get involved. The effects of the passage of bills and restrictions on them from legislative actions or insurance company actions can be completely disruptive,” Dr. Pierce said. “That may be one of the main focuses of what the Medical Association is about, and what we do a good job of.”

Dr. Amber Clark agreed that because the mechanics of practicing medicine is moving so quickly and the rules are changing so often today, physicians cannot afford not to have a voice in that change…whether that physician agrees with the philosophy of the organization doing the advocacy work or not, it remains of the utmost importance to be involved in order to ensure the best types of changes are made for the sake of the patient and the physician.

“It’s so important to not only learn the business of medicine but to also learn how the system works. Organized medicine organizations like the AMA and the Medical Association are all doing the same thing – advocating for you and your patients. You don’t realize how important it is until you’re stuck in the middle. It’s comfortable when you operate in a bubble. It’s safe there. We will always have patients to take care of, and the only constant thing in medicine today is change. We are all intelligent beings. We don’t all have to agree on the same things. But, we’re doing a disservice to ourselves, our patients, and our colleagues to simply sit on the sidelines and be passive observers. That doesn’t mean you have to go lobby in Washington or Montgomery every day. That’s not realistic,” Dr. Amber Clark said.

Filtering out the noise.

One of the primary concerns of organized medicine is keeping members informed. Organizations act as filters or gatekeepers to allow the most important information flow to the members while keeping the noise at bay. The Medical Association’s Government Relations and Public Affairs Department works to do just that.

Dothan family physician Carlos Clark suggested not only does membership with the Medical Association give physicians a voice in the ultimate conversation about the practice of medicine and your relationship with your patient, but having a strong Government Relations team is extremely important in guiding that conversation down the best path.

male doctor in scrubs

“Having a strong Government Affairs department like the Association’s to stay in touch with the rest of us and help us see things coming down the pike and see things that we just wouldn’t normally see is vitally important,” Dr. Carlos Clark said. “It puts you more in tune with what’s going on. Unless you have all the free time in the world, I can’t imagine all the medical news websites you would have to search through to try to catch everything coming down the pike. Being part of organized medicine allows us to get all that information filtered so we get the most important information sent to us to act on. It’s hard enough for us to keep up with what drugs insurance companies are covering much less what rules and regulations are coming our way and when.”

Organized medicine offers more than advocacy.

For Ben Bush, who’s a medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, being a member of organized medicine and serving in leadership positions with the Medical Association and the AMA, has afforded him more opportunities in medicine than his medical school education alone could provide.

“I enjoy the relationships I’ve made. I’ve met a lot of other students and doctors from all over and created good relationships I value very much. And, there’s also the education component. I learn so much through the Medical Association and the AMA about medicine, advocacy and the practice of medicine that I can’t learn in medical school. I wanted to get involved in organized medicine primarily because of the advocacy,” Bush said.

Bush said he often gets questions from his classmates about his involvement in organized medicine, mostly concerns about why he’s participating in organizations that are often seen as not necessarily aligned with the overall beliefs of the majority of physicians treating patients today. But, he feels organized medicine is historically misunderstood and often misrepresented. In fact, he strongly encourages his colleagues who oppose medical organizations to become more involved with them.

male doctor smiling

“When my classmates ask why I’m involved in organized medicine,” Bush explained, “I tell them it’s because if I’m not a member and don’t go to those meetings to voice my opinion, then what happens? I think I’m so involved because I can voice an opinion on those policies that could negatively affect us here in Alabama. If we aren’t collectively using our voice for medicine, then the opinion we disagree with will only be that much louder, and we’ve already seen that this year in the Alabama Legislature. It’s important we defend medicine as a whole, for those in private practice to those who are employed or in academia, for every specialty…if we’re not actively moving forward to defend the practice of medicine as a whole, then we all lose.”

Dr. Pierce agreed that when involvement in organized medicine filters down to a small group, then the opinions of a small percentage of physicians are the ones expressed causing a very narrow view of the House of Medicine. As Dr. Amber Clark put it, medical students don’t graduate into any specific field of medicine, such as plastic surgery, family medicine, or gastroenterology. Being part of organized medicine means being part of medicine as a whole.

“The only way the Medical Association will ever know what the majority of physicians in the State of Alabama will need to make their practice better is if the physicians of the State of Alabama tell us,” Dr. Pierce said. “If you are not involved, you can get a small group of physicians making decisions that a majority of doctors may not believe in. That’s not good medicine, and that’s why you should be involved in organized medicine.”

Jennifer Hayes, the Medical Association’s Director of Membership and Specialty Society Management, agreed with Dr. Pierce and equally expressed concern for the widening gap in the number of younger physicians entering practice as older physicians begin to make plans for retirement in the State of Alabama.

“The 62 percent active membership market share we have in Alabama is excellent compared to other state medical associations, the reality is our membership is aging out,” Hayes explained. “Currently, 63 percent of our membership is over the age of 50. We have to ask, how long will these physicians stay in practice?”

The Medical Association is creating avenues for residents and students to become more involved. In 2016, the House of Delegates and College of Counsellors passed a resolution to waive all dues for residents and students hoping to garner more interest in organized medicine. The Medical Association also hosts educational events and socials around the state during the year, as well as participating in medical school Match Days.

“Since the dues were waived in 2016, student membership increased 73 percent and residents 66 percent. That’s great, but we must demonstrate value and lead by example to retain these individuals who remain in Alabama. The first step for the Association has been to participate in and support their programs,” Hayes said. “Earlier this year, we created a poster symposium and Friday conference at Annual Session to allow time for networking, hear great presentations on topics related just to them, and more time with representatives from residency programs and Alabama physician recruiters. This event was so popular that we will do it again for the 2018 Annual Session with free registration and hotel scholarships. Even though the Association is making great strides to reach out to this segment of our physician base, it’s not enough. If we don’t all join together to reach out to our early career physicians, residents and students, the integrity of the Association could be in jeopardy. We have to ask ourselves one question: Are we all doing our part?”

Ultimately, it’s always about the patient.

In the end, physicians practice medicine because of their patients. Protecting the physician-patient relationship and advocating for better care for the patient is at the forefront of patient care. This puts the physician-patient relationship often at the center of most health care-related advocacy conversations in Montgomery and Washington, D.C. However, as more physicians are leaving the unified front organized medicine provides, physicians may be losing the strength to advocate for their patients and patients’ rights to the best of their abilities.

“We are losing doctor involvement,” Dr. Pierce said. “You have to have physicians involved in organized medicine or bad things could happen. These things don’t happen in a vacuum. When you’re not involved, and bad things happen, it makes it hard complain. Bad things happen because the other side is involved even more.”

As Dr. Pierce explained, a physician is the patient’s primary advocate. Even with the weight of the Medical Association behind that physician, it takes the collective of all physicians from all specialties to make a difference.

“The Medical Association does a great job of protecting our patients. But, physicians are patient advocates, too. It’s not all about me, as a person or as a physician. It’s about my patient. We have to get one thing clear – and that’s understanding the most important thing here is our patients. The focus of what you are doing as a physician is healing, and healing a patient who trusts you, who has come to you because they have a relationship with you. Ultimately, it’s always about the patient, and we cannot ever forget that.”

Article by Lori M. Quiller, APR
Director of Communications and Social Media

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Annual Session Poster Symposium Winner Presents in Hawaii…and Wins!

Annual Session Poster Symposium Winner Presents in Hawaii…and Wins!

Dr. Bradley Wills, who originally received first place at the Medical Association’s Second Annual Poster Symposium in April for his poster entitled Outcomes with Overlapping Surgery at a Large Academic Medical Center, presented his research poster at the 2017 AMA Interim Meeting in Honolulu in November and won the Resident-Fellow Section Division for Clinical Medicine.

At the Medical Association’s Annual Meeting, Dr. Wills’ poster was one of 32 entries from the Medical Student and Resident-Fellow Sections. All medical schools and many residency programs participated in this year’s program. Dr. Wills, an orthopaedic surgery resident at UAB, received $300 for his first place win, as well as the opportunity to present at the AMA Interim Meeting.

The Medical Association is preparing now for the Third Annual Poster Symposium as part of the Annual Meeting in April 2018. More details will be available soon.

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Centreville Physician Receives National Recognition

Centreville Physician Receives National Recognition

john waitsCentreville physician John Waits was the only Alabama physician to be recognized by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health’s 2017 Community Stars Program. Dr. Waits was one of 31 honorees during the 2017 National Rural Health Day working tirelessly to improve, protect and advance health and wellness in our rural communities.

Dr. Waits is Chief Executive Officer and faculty physician at Cahaba Medical Care in Centreville and was nominated as a 2017 Community Star by Charles Lail of the Alabama Department of Public Health. Below is an excerpt of the information from the awards program:

“From the time we opened in 2004, we decided to never turn away a patient due to an inability to pay. We’ve held to our promise even when unemployment in the area went from 3 percent to 15 percent, and more patients found themselves without insurance.” The words of Dr. John Waits speak to the heart of why he is most deserving of recognition of an outstanding 2017 Community Star!

Dr. Waits is a practicing, board-certified Family Medicine/Obstetrician and leader in the field of innovative, rural health care. He serves as CEO of Cahaba Medical Care and is the Director of the Cahaba Family Medicine Residency Program. He also created Alabama’s only Teaching Health Center, which has a dually accredited family residency program within Cahaba Medical Care. He currently serves as the co-founder and CEO of Cahaba Medical Care Foundation, a Federally Qualified Health Center in rural Bibb County, Alabama.

Dr. Waits is particularly interested in healthcare policy as it relates to women and children (maternal and infant care), the rural poor, health care access, and the care of the uninsured and underinsured. Under his leadership, CMC’s mission to treat people in underserved communities regardless of insurance or financial status is steadfast. He believes that it is critically important to offer patients the highest quality care the team can provide, while also providing the most extensive scope of services possible.

Dr. Waits and the care CMC provides extend beyond the walls of their practice locations. CMC is very active in community service, giving weekend backpack meals to children in three of Bibb County’s schools, with plans underway to expand the program into neighboring Jefferson County. CMC is a ‘no restrictions’ community service organization in that they also provide support to a local food bank and a clothes closet for all those in need, patient or not.

Another notable area of his reach and community benefit results – CMC has expanded into mental health and nutrition, offering counselors and dietitians to community members in need. He and his loyal, equally dedicated team are motivated by the idea of investing in communities, working and partnering with others to try to make people healthier and places better.

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Young Physicians Have New Opportunities at Annual Meeting

Young Physicians Have New Opportunities at Annual Meeting

The 2017 Annual Meeting and Business Session added a separate educational track designed specifically for Young Physicians, Resident-Fellows and Medical Students to allow this group of young medical professionals the opportunity to meet established physicians as well as network with other colleagues from across the state. And, there’s great news…we’re planning to do it again for 2018!

New Concurrent Educational Sessions

airway demoWhile encouraged to attend many of the general sessions, such as the Ellann McCrory, M.D. Leadership Lecture with Auburn University Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl and the Jerome Cochran, M.D., Lecture with James B. McClintock, Ph.D., concurrent sessions were set aside to engage these young physicians just starting their medical practice. Medical Association Partner Regions Bank offered two sessions, Banking Basics for Residents and Students and Maximizing Your Personal Wealth, while Sirote & Permutt, P.C., discussed Contract Negotiations. Zalak Patel, M.D., with the UAB School of Medicine, Montgomery Regional Medical Campus, offered a hands-on Basic Airway Management Skill Session.

Special Exhibit Hall

A second exhibit hall filled with residency programs and Alabama physician recruiters offered a wide range of in-state opportunities for these young professionals. The Medical Association would like to extend special thanks to the following exhibitors:

  • American Medical Association
  • Anatomage, Inc. (Virtual Dissection Demonstrations)
  • Andalusia Health
  • Brookwood Baptist Health Residency Program (Internal Medicine, Pathology)
  • exhibit hallCommunity Hospital, Inc., (General Surgery, Radiology and Transitional Year)
  • Medical Center Enterprise
  • Montgomery Family Medicine Program
  • Quality of Life Health Services
  • St. Vincent’s East Family Medicine Residency Program, Team Health
  • UAB Montgomery Internal Medicine Residency Program
  • UAB Selma Family Medicine
  • UAB SOM Huntsville Campus, Family Medicine Program
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham Vascular Surgery Integrated Residency
  • University of South Alabama Psychiatry

Hotel Scholarships Awarded Via Essay Contest

To help offset the cost of staying overnight for the conference, the Medical Association awarded 12 hotel scholarships for Resident-Fellow and Medical Student Section attendees who successfully submitted a one-page essay on the importance of organized medicine. Students receiving this scholarship were: Ankita Mahajan, ACOM; Adena Shahinian, ACOM; Taylor Bono, UAB; Natasha Mehra, UAB; Jessica Powell, UAB; Tushar Ramesh, UAB; Ricky Seeber, UAB; Dillon Casey, USA; Will Lightfoot, USA; Olivia Means, USA; Brianna Clark, VCOM; and Mahreen Arshad, Resident, Brookwood Baptist Hospital.

Poster Symposium a Huge Success

stephen layfield

Stephen Layfield

The Second Annual Poster Symposium was a rousing success with 32 entries from members of the Medical Student and Resident-Fellow Sections. All medical schools and many residency programs participated in this year’s program, and the quality of the posters was outstanding.

Congratulations to those who took the time to create research projects and present them to the physicians and committee members.

  • Third place winner Stephen Layfield, a student at UAB, received $125 for his poster, Building and Deploying a Clinical Data Warehouse at a Student-Run Free Clinic: A One-Year Review.
  • Roxanne Lockhart

    Roxanne Lockhart

    Second place winner Roxanne Lockhart, a student at UAB, received $200 for her poster, Effect of O-Linked ß-N-Acetyl-Glucosamine Posttraumatic Brain Injury.

  • First place winner Bradley Wills, M.D., an orthopaedic surgery resident at UAB, received $300 and the opportunity to present his research poster at the 2017 AMA Interim Meeting in Honolulu in November. His poster was entitled, Outcomes with Overlapping Surgery at a Large Academic Medical Center.

Special thanks to Poster Symposium Committee Ricky Seeber and Natasha Mehra from UAB, as well as Poster Symposium Judges Jorge Alsip, M.D., Paul O’Leary, M.D., and Irma DeLeon, M.D.

Elections for Board of Censors Representatives

brad wills

Bradley Wills, M.D.

The sections also held elections for representatives to the 2017-2018 Medical Association’s Board of Censors:

  • Mark Haygood, D.O., Young Physician Section Representative
  • Emily Goulet, M.D., Resident-Fellow Section Representative (University of Birmingham)
  • Caitlyn Marshall, M.D., Resident-Fellow Section Co-Representative (University of South Alabama)
  • Benjamin Bush, Medical Student Section Representative (University of South Alabama)

Details about the 2018 Annual Session will be coming your way soon!

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Match Day 2017 Successful for Alabama’s Medical Students

Match Day 2017 Successful for Alabama’s Medical Students

MOBILE — The excitement was thick in the ballroom of the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center on in March for Match Day. What is perhaps the most important day for each graduating medical school student can also be the most stressful. This day serves as a focus of celebration for medical schools and students nationwide – the day medical students learn the locations of the residency programs in which they will continue the next phase of their medical training.

Match Day is the result of medical students nationwide interviewing with different residency programs and ranking their top-choice programs in order of preference with the training programs doing the same. The National Residency Matching Program uses a mathematical algorithm to designate each applicant to a residency program.

Each student receives their sealed match letter at promptly 10:45 a.m. (CT). At 11 a.m., the students rip open their letters to learn the location of their residency program. It is truly a day of well-earned pageantry.

“Match Day is the most important day in a medical student’s career,” said Dr. Susan LeDoux, associate dean of medical education and student affairs at the University of South Alabama. “They work so hard to get into the specialty they like, and once they are in that specialty they continue to work hard throughout their training.”

According to USA, of the 70 College of Medicine seniors, 22 students went to Alabama medical institutions, including 12 who will do their residencies at USA hospitals. Forty-eight others, or 69 percent, drew out-of-state residencies in a total of 22 other states.

The University of Alabama-Birmingham also had impressive results. UAB’s match rate was 98 percent, or 173 students, from its School of Medicine seniors. Its students matched in 75 institutions in 29 states.

The inaugural class of the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dothan experienced its first Match Day this year with outstanding results as well. ACOM students achieved positions in 15 disciplines, 97 unique institutions/programs, and 29 states.

According to NRMP, the 2017 Match Day was the largest on record with 35,969 U.S. and international students and graduates vying for 31,757 positions – the most ever offered during a match.

“The number of U.S. allopathic seniors who submitted program choices is an all-time high. The number of students/graduates of osteopathic medical schools who submitted program choices, as well as their match rate, are all-time highs,” said Mona M. Signer, NRMP president and CEO. “It’s also a good sign for primary care.”

National Match by the Numbers

  • Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Pediatrics added a combined 2,900 positions, a 25.8 percent increase
  • Emergency Medicine offered 2,047 first-year positions, 152 more than in 2016, and filled all but six
  • Psychiatry offered 1,495 first-year positions, 111 more than in 2016, and filled all but four
  • Specialties with more than 30 positions that achieved the highest percentages of positions filled by U.S. allopathic seniors, were Integrated Plastic Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery and Otolaryngology
  • Applicants who did not match participated in the NRMP Match Week Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program®. This year, 1,177 of the 1,279 unfilled positions were offered during SOAP.

*Special thanks to University of South Alabama College of Medicine, University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine and the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dothan for participating in this article. Photo courtesy of Bill Starling, photographer with USA.

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Haleyville Physician Installed as President for 2017-2018

Haleyville Physician Installed as President for 2017-2018

MONTGOMERY – Boyde Jerome “Jerry” Harrison, a family practitioner from Haleyville, was formally installed as president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama during the 2017 Inauguration, Awards Presentation and 50-Year Physician Recognition Dinner last month.

“From the time I was a boy, my mother wanted me to get an education, so she pushed me towards one,” Dr. Harrison told the crowd of banquet attendees. “Patience, persistence, perspiration, stubbornness…these are a good combination for success. Physicians face challenges every day, and I’m excited to lead the state’s oldest professional medical organization as we navigate these challenges to fight for better health care for our citizens and fewer mandates for our physicians.”

Dr. Harrison is a graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine and did his internship and residency at Georgia Baptist Medical Center. He’s been in family practice in Haleyville since 1981, and has been very active in the community serving on numerous staff appointments with Burdick-West Memorial Medical Center, Carraway Memorial Medical Center, Lackland Community Hospital, and medical director for Haleyville Healthcare, Hendrix Healthcare and Ridgeview Healthcare, among others.

A long-time member of the American Medical Association, Dr. Harrison has served as Hospital Medical Staff Section Representative, Alternate Delegate and received the Physicians Recognition Award. He has been a member of the Medical Association and Winston County Medical Society since 1982 and has served on the Council of Medical Service, Board of Censors for 10 years before being elected chair, Counselor and Life Counselor. As a member of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, Dr. Harrison has served on the Credentials Committee and chair of the ALBME. He is a member and Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Harrison is also a member and past president of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians and has served on the board of directors as vice president, president-elect and chair.

Dr. Harrison is also one of the architects of the Medical Association’s Opioid Prescribing Conference. This year marks the ninth year of the course, and by the end of 2017, the Association will have completed 31 courses. So far, the courses have reached almost 5,000 prescribers. Until 2013 Alabama was one of the only states offering an opioid prescribing education course when the FDA developed the blueprint for Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies for producers of controlled substances.

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Survey: U.S. Physicians Overwhelmingly Satisfied with Career Choice

Survey: U.S. Physicians Overwhelmingly Satisfied with Career Choice

CHICAGO – The American Medical Association recently announced survey findings that explore the experiences, perceptions and challenges facing physicians in the rapidly changing health care environment. The survey of 1,200 physicians, residents and medical students asked when respondents knew they would become physicians, who encouraged them down that path, what challenges they face professionally, and whether they are satisfied with their career choice.

According to the survey, nine in 10 physicians are satisfied with their career choice, despite challenges common to each career stage. Three-quarters of medical students, residents, and physicians said that helping people is a top motivator for pursuing their career and sixty-one percent of all respondents said they would encourage others to enter the field of medicine. Personal experiences as a patient, volunteer, and with family members played a role – across career stages – in realizing one’s calling to practice medicine. Additionally, 73 percent of respondents knew before they reached the age of 20 that they wanted to be physicians, and nearly a third knew before becoming a teenager.

“Physicians may be discouraged at times, but almost every single one of us remains confident in our decision to enter medicine and continues to be driven by our desire to help our patients,” said Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., AMA president. “As an organization, the AMA is constantly striving to deliver resources that empower physicians to maximize time with their patients and help them succeed at every stage of their medical lives. Understanding the challenges physicians face, as well as their motivations for continuing on, is critical to fulfilling that mission.”

Conducted in February 2017, the AMA survey found administrative burden, stress, and lack of time were among the top three challenges of respondents; however, among residents, a larger proportion indicated long hours and on-call schedule among their top challenges.

These survey findings are released as the AMA launches a comprehensive brand initiative that strives to demonstrate to physicians, residents and medical students the many ways the AMA listens, supports and empowers them to succeed throughout their unique journeys with timely and relevant resources. The brand initiative features individual stories such as:

The brand initiative will reach physicians through print, digital and social media platforms. It is intended to recognize and celebrate the core reasons that physicians choose the profession while also highlighting the broad array of initiatives and resources the AMA provides in support of physicians.

The survey included medical students (n=400), residents (n=400) and physicians (n=400) up to 10-years in practice. Additional information on the survey findings and methodology is available upon request.

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Medical Association Celebrates Second Annual Doctors’ Day in Alabama

Medical Association Celebrates Second Annual Doctors’ Day in Alabama

MONTGOMERY – On March 29, Gov. Robert Bentley signed a proclamation declaring March 30, 2017, the Second Annual Doctors’ Day in Alabama formally recognizing Alabama’s nearly 17,000 licensed physicians serving millions of residents through private practice, in hospitals, in research, and in other health care facilities.

Doctors’ Day in Alabama, a project sponsored by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Public Health, is held in conjunction with National Doctors’ Day to celebrate physicians of all specialties serving in our communities.

“Physicians often lead patients and families through some of life’s most challenging moments,” said Mark Jackson, executive director of the Medical Association. “We wanted to have one day to thank our physicians for the work they do each day to make the health of our residents and our state better. The practice of medicine is a special calling, and we wanted to recognize that,” he said.

Montgomery radiologist Mark LeQuire had the opportunity to explain a more about the path to becoming a physician to a Today in Alabama morning news crew.

“Most people probably don’t realize the length of training that it takes to become a doctor. After four years of college, four years of medical school, five to seven years of training after that, and then the lifelong experience of training to become a good physician. But, it can be so much more. The concept I try to use in my practice is that of a physician-priest — to heal the body and soul of our patients and our communities as well. We are involved not only in the physical health of our patients but also in the wellness and well-being of our communities. You see that a lot more now with wellness centers in our communities. It’s more about the entire person and not just a body part,” radiologist Dr. LeQuire explained to WSFA-12 on March 31 as he toured the crew through his workspace at Baptist South in Montgomery.

How Do Physicians Contribute to Alabama’s Economy?

Alabama’s physicians fulfill a vital role in the state’s economy by supporting 83,095 jobs and generating $11.2 billion in economic activity, according to a joint report by the Medical Association and the American Medical Association.Alabama’s physicians are major economic engines in their communities. Urban or rural, large group or solo practitioner, Alabama physicians can improve both patient health and the economy.

Alabama’s physicians are major economic engines in their communities. Urban or rural, large group or solo practitioner, Alabama physicians can improve both patient health and the economy.With the changing

With the changing health care environment, it is increasingly important to quantify the economic impact physicians have on our society. To provide lawmakers, regulators and policymakers with reliable information, the report measured the economic impact of Alabama’s physicians according to four key economic barometers. The overall findings in Alabama include:

  • Jobs: Each physician supports an average of 9.5 jobs, including his/her own, and contributed to a total of 83,095 jobs statewide.Output: Each physician supports an average of $1.3 million in economic output and contributed to a total of $11.2 billion in economic output statewide.
  • Output: Each physician supports an average of $1.3 million in economic output and contributed to a total of $11.2 billion in economic output statewide.Wages and Benefits: Each physician supports an average of $758,744 in total wages and benefits and contributed to a total of $6.7 billion in wages and benefits statewide.
  • Wages and Benefits: Each physician supports an average of $758,744 in total wages and benefits and contributed to a total of $6.7 billion in wages and benefits statewide.Tax Revenues: Each physician supports $46,148 in local and state tax revenues and contributes to a total of $404.9 million in local and state tax revenues statewide.
  • Tax Revenues: Each physician supports $46,148 in local and state tax revenues and contributes to a total of $404.9 million in local and state tax revenues statewide.The study found, in comparison to other industries, patient care physicians contribute as much or more to the state economy than higher education, home health care, legal services, nursing and residential care.

The study found, in comparison to other industries, patient care physicians contribute as much or more to the state economy than higher education, home health care, legal services, nursing and residential care.

Watch Dr. Mark LeQuire’s interview with WSFA-12 on March 31, 2017.

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