January 27, 2014

UAB opens Montgomery medical campus

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The new UAB Montgomery Regional Medical Campus will be housed at Baptist Medical Center South, the longtime home of the UAB Montgomery Internal Medicine Residency Program. The full-fledged campus will train medical students in family medicine, neurology, obstetrics, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery.

“We intend to train students to mature into clinically competent and compassionate physicians in a setting that offers different educational challenges and opportunities,” said Wick Many, M.D., dean of the regional campus and holder of the Virginia Loeb Weil Endowed Professorship in Medical Education.

The Montgomery campus will accept six third-year medical students starting in May, with 20 more arriving next year. It joins existing regional campuses in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, along with the main campus in Birmingham.

Many and other School of Medicine leaders anticipate that a number of students will stay in the Montgomery area following graduation, helping to alleviate an impending physician shortage in Alabama. UAB’s experiences at the other two regional campuses have shown that physicians tend to live and practice close to the areas where they did their medical training. Another goal is to increase the number of students entering the primary care field. 

“A greater preponderance of students who train at regional campuses choose primary care specialties,” Many said. “We want our students to see real-world practice and realize that they can be professionally satisfied and have a very nice lifestyle practicing in nonsubspecialty areas.”

“The Montgomery Regional Campus is an important progression for medical education, and it will be a transformational progression for medical care in Montgomery and the River Region,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine at UAB and dean of the School of Medicine. “We appreciate the partnerships that made this campus possible and look forward to great success.”

In clinical rotations, students will encounter a population of patients Many describes as extremely diverse, both in their medical problems and in the socioeconomic backgrounds they present. He says the program’s presence in Alabama’s capital city also opens up opportunities for students to explore health policy topics such as health care disparities, public health issues and outcomes-based research.

The facility boasts a 22,500-square-foot simulation center with high-tech, interactive mannequins that can simulate nearly every aspect of internal medicine, obstetrics and pediatrics.

“Students will spend their first day of surgery in the center’s fully equipped operating suite, learning about operating room etiquette and teamwork,” said Many. “In pediatrics, they can use a mannequin to learn to examine a newborn, which will help them get comfortable before they care for a real baby.”

Many has been talking with local physicians interested in serving as mentors and meeting with local leaders about supporting student scholarships.  

“When a regional medical school program is established, a lot of good things begin to happen,” he said.
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