Military Promotion Ceremony

Vickers Bookcase2Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACSIn these weeks between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, I want to tell you about an aspect of commencement that is a source of particular pride to our School of Medicine.

In 2013, Laura B. Kezar, M.D., associate dean for students and a Navy veteran, created the Military Promotion Ceremony for SOM graduates who will enter military training programs. On the morning of Commencement, a guest speaker from the U.S. Army Medical Corps presides over the ceremony, and family and friends – many of whom are active duty or retired military personnel -- pin the military rank on the new graduates’ uniforms.

Since 2013, 22 students have taken part in the Military Promotion Ceremony. This year’s participants were:

  • Lt. Jody Watson Joynt, M.D., U.S. Navy, residency in obstetrics and gynecology at San Diego Naval Hospital in San Diego, Calif.
  • Capt. Emily Deanna Sheikh, M.D., U.S. Army, residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
  • Capt. Thomas Gilliam Townes, M.D., U.S. Army, residency in general surgery at San Antonio Military Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
  • Capt. Brandon Scott Withers, M.D., U.S. Air Force, residency in psychiatry at Wright-Patterson Air Force Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio.

    militaryLt. Jody Watson Joynt, M.D., Capt. Emily Deanna Sheikh, M.D., Capt. Thomas Gilliam Townes, M.D., and Capt. Brandon Scott Withers, M.D.Dr. Kezar’s own experience with the Navy puts her in a unique position to offer guidance to students considering the military route. “We are one of the most affordable medical schools in the country, but even so, a lot of our students would not be able to come here if not for some financial assistance,” she says. “One way to pay is by joining one of the military programs. The main program is called HPSP, which stands for Health Professions Scholarship Program, and is available through the Army, Navy and Air Force.”

    HPSP funds tuition and fees, books and equipment, and a stipend. Participants complete several weeks of health professions-specific basic training for their branch of service, and are assigned to a reserve unit as officers during medical school. During the fourth year, participants complete one or two four-week clinical rotations at military medical facilities, and then apply for residency training through a separate military match program. For every year of medical school funding, the participant owes a year of military service after training is complete.

    Dr. Kezar believes students who pursue this path deserve recognition and support, which is why she created the Military Promotion Ceremony and was instrumental in forming the school’s Military Medicine Student Interest Group. “These young people are making a commitment not just to serve in medicine, but to sacrifice in their personal lives to support the heroes who defend this country,” she says. “We need to honor the commitment they’ve made.”

    As I gather with friends and family this Fourth of July, I’ll be thinking of our young graduates who are just beginning their journey of military service. And to all of the many School of Medicine alumni who have served our country, thank you.

    Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
    Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean
    James C. Lee Endowed Chair

Big News from the School of Medicine at UAB

 Vickers BookcaseIn just a few days, the School of Medicine will make a big announcement—a really big announcement—and we want you to be part of it.

On Friday, March 6, we will kick off our School of Medicine Alumni Campaign with a goal that may make some jaws drop. This phase of the billion-dollar Campaign for UAB seeks to inspire medical alumni—MD graduates, former residents and fellows, and graduates of our Joint Health Sciences programs—to join us and our Alumni Campaign Steering Committee as we take a giant leap forward in education, research, and clinical care, powered by philanthropic investment.

The kickoff reception—Friday, March 6, 7 p.m. at the Birmingham Marriott at Grandviewis open to all alumni, with a great band, great food, and the opportunity to visit with fellow graduates during our 42nd annual Medical Alumni Weekend. Please plan to join us—RSVP to or 205-934-4463 by Monday, March 2.

See below for details on Medical Alumni Weekend, including a preview of the inaugural Mini-Medical School, the newly renamed Reynolds-Finley Lecture, available CME credits, and much more. I hope to see you there.


Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean
James C. Lee Endowed Chair

Go Back to Medical School
Mini Medical SchoolSpend a half-day on Friday, March 6, learning how we teach medicine in the 21st Century. At Mini-Medical School, alumni will experience firsthand our innovative approach to education, meet some of today’s master teachers, and participate in simulation and interprofessional learning activities with medical students. Registration (required in advance) is $50, and lunch is included; participation is limited to 75. The program begins at 8 a.m. For details, call 205-934-4463. (3.5 hours of AMA PRA Category 1 credit are available.)

Join Us for the Reynolds-Finley Lecture
Finley lecture libraryA gift from Sara J. Finley and Randall W. Finley, M.D., honors their father, Dr. Wayne H. Finley, professor emeritus, genetics pioneer, and avid medical historian, by adding the Finley name to the Reynolds Historical Library and Reynolds Historical Lectureship.

On Friday, March 6, at 4 p.m. at Volker Hall Lecture Room E, the Finley family will be recognized at the 36th annual lecture—now known as the Reynolds-Finley Historical Lecture—featuring Bert Hansen, Ph.D., professor of history at the City University of New York. His talk is titled “Louis Pasteur and the Pleasures of Art.” (1 hour of AMA PRA Category 1 credit is available.)

Located on the third floor of Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, the newly renamed Reynolds-Finley Historical Library holds more than 13,000 rare books and manuscripts pertaining to the history of medicine and science. The Finley name has also been added to an endowment for the continued enhancement and expansion of the collection. Click here to learn more.

Karam to Deliver 23rd Annual Pittman Lecture
karam lectureGeorge H. Karam, M.D., chief medical resident in 1981 and now head of the Internal Medicine Department at LSU Health Sciences Center in Baton Rouge, will present the 23rd annual Constance S. and James A. Pittman Lecture on Saturday, March 7, at 12:30 p.m. during the 42nd Annual Medical Alumni Weekend. Dr. Karam’s talk, “Principles of Medicine as Taught by Dr. Tinsley Harrison,” takes place during the MAA Awards Luncheon at the Birmingham Marriott Hotel at Grandview, following the morning scientific sessions, at which attendees can earn up to 5.75 AMA PRA Category 1 credits. Afternoon scientific sessions offer an additional 3.5 credits. Click here for topics, speakers, costs, and to register (required in advance).

All in the Family

Vickers-Bookcase2Today, the School of Medicine announces two philanthropic gifts honoring a husband-and-wife pair of beloved School of Medicine faculty members.

Along with her husband, Wayne H. Finley, M.D., Ph.D., the late Sara Crews Finley, M.D., co-founded the first medical genetics program in the southeastern United States, and was co-director of UAB’s Medical Genetics Laboratory for more than 30 years. She served as the first female president of our Medical Alumni Association and the Jefferson County Medical Society, among many other honors and awards.

Not only was Dr. Finley a visionary leader in her field, she was also a wise, kind, and generous mentor to countless people in and outside of the medical profession. As a member of our admissions committee for 20 years, Dr. Finley guided and advised hundreds of applicants seeking careers in medicine.

So it is only fitting that the Sara Crews Finley, M.D., Leadership Scholars Program—established by Dr. Wayne Finley and the couple’s daughter, Sara J. Finley, and son, Dr. Randall W. Finley, a School of Medicine alumnus—honors Dr. Sara Finley’s commitment to recognizing and supporting the aspirations of our top students. Sara Crews Finley, M.D., Leadership Scholars will be selected based on academic achievement and leadership skills, and will receive a full-tuition scholarship for their third and fourth years of medical school. Recipients will also receive a new white coat with special insignia indicating their status as Sara Crews Finley, M.D., Leadership Scholars at our annual White Coat Ceremony in August.

finleys-lo-resDr. Sara Crews Finley and Dr. Wayne Finley photo-4-lo-res(From left to right) Dr. Shirley Kahn, Dr. Wayne Finley, Dr. Randall Finley, Sara J. Finley, and Dr. Ray Watts. The Finley children have also honored their father’s dedication to UAB with a gift to rename the Reynolds Historical Library, a collection of more than 13,000 rare books and manuscripts pertaining to the history of medicine and dating from the 14th century, as the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library. This gift is especially fitting, given Dr. Wayne H. Finley’s love for medical history, as he has authored a number of articles and books relating to the history of the medical center in Birmingham, including the University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association, 1859-2003. He is also a founding member of the board of the Reynolds Associates at UAB’s Lister Hill Library.

As Professor Emeritus in the Department of Genetics, Dr. Wayne Finley has made it his life’s work to use his pioneering knowledge of the field of genetics to better the lives of Alabamians, and has served as a model of excellence and intellectual rigor for countless young physicians.

In addition, the Finley children have established an endowed support to enhance the Reynolds Historical Lectureship, which will be renamed the Reynolds-Finley Historical Lectureship.

On behalf of the entire School of Medicine family, I want to thank the Finley family for their generosity. These gifts ensure that the Finley legacy of discovery, dedication, and excellence will live on through generations of School of Medicine students yet to come.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean
James C. Lee Endowed Chair