The six weeks since President Ray Watts appointed me to succeed him as your Interim Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean have been very eventful, which is normal for a place as dynamic as UAB. This new position has given me an even greater appreciation for the work we all do to make a positive impact on students, patients, science and the community.
Communicating our progress, and our challenges, is vital to understanding who we are as an institution and affording the community the opportunity to understand and appreciate who we are and what we do. To that end, this is the first of what will be several monthly messages from me.
Our students celebrated the most significant achievement of their careers on March 15: Match Day, when our fourth-year students learned where they will continue their training as resident physicians. This was UAB’s most successful match ever, thanks to the students’ hard work and the leadership of our Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and chair of the Department of Medical Education Hughes Evans, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Dean for Students Laura Kezar, M.D., and their talented teams. Read more about the match here.
Our students were accepted into residency positions at prestigious academic medical centers around the country (a total of 77 institutions in 31 states), but I am pleased to report that 42 percent will stay in Alabama. Research shows that physicians are more likely to establish a practice where they train, which is important for the physician shortage in our state.
Our students will pursue specialties that span the spectrum of medical care – including surgery, anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, neurology and many others – but more than four out of 10 are going into primary care, an area especially hard hit by the physician shortage UAB is committed to addressing strategically. Our efforts continue to pay off: last week, U.S. News & World Report ranked UAB 10th in the nation for primary care.
The next time you see some of our fourth-year students, please congratulate them and wish them the best in the exciting months and years to come. Their excellence makes us all very proud.
Recruiting top applicants to our residency programs is also a major priority for the School of Medicine. These new residents will be part of UAB Medicine’s house staff for the next several years and will contribute greatly to patient care and to educating our students. The process of attracting the best is highly competitive; more than 52,000 students from across the U.S. and abroad apply for only 26,000 residency positions in the country. Again, UAB performed impressively. It is clear that UAB’s reputation for providing high-quality training programs is recognized throughout the nation. This is due to the excellent leadership of our faculty, the support they receive from our staff and the strength of our clinical programs, as well as the growing vitality of Birmingham.
President Watts has stated that UAB’s most important asset is our people. I couldn’t agree more, and as we move ahead our top priority will be to strengthen that core. We will continue to invest in our best faculty and their work, and will also strive to continue the recruitment of additional world-class investigators who have funded research in cutting-edge science relevant to our strategic areas.
One recent example is the creation of two new positions: As recognition of her outstanding leadership as Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), Robin Lorenz, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed Assistant Dean for Physician-Scientist Education. A new Clinical Associate Director position for the MSTP has been created and applications from interested faculty will be solicited. This is an important area of growth for UAB, for these future physician-scientists will bring a substantial scope of knowledge to bear on discovery and patient care, which will also greatly enhance UAB's ability to contribute to a knowledge-based economy.
As we begin to search for a permanent Senior Vice President and Dean, we pause to remember a former Dean who led the School of Medicine during a period of significant growth. William B. Deal, M.D., a leader in medical education for more than 40 years, passed away suddenly March 15. He was Dean of the School of Medicine and the first Senior Vice President for Medicine from 1997 until 2004. UAB will honor Dr. Deal with a memorial service; details will be distributed as soon as they are complete.
Finally, I hope you will visit our new School of Medicine News website regularly to keep up with the great work being performed at UAB. The site, www.uab.edu/medicine/news, highlights what makes UAB special.
All the best,
Interim Senior Vice President for Medicine
and Dean, UAB School of Medicine