UAB Ph.D Careers and UAB Career and Professional Development Services offers two online career guidance systems, Focus and TypeFocus. Both offer career assessments that raise self-awareness by helping you identify unique interests, skills, values, and personality characteristics. Customized reports are included.

Focus matches your assessment results with suggested careers and UAB majors to explore. Although you have already chosen a degree and focus, this system maintains thorough information on 1,500 occupations and guides you in building an individual Action Plan. The results may give you options for occupations you may have never considered.
TypeFocus assesses your personality type and incorporates it into personalized reports that offer insight into the following 3 topics:
    1. What career choices fit with my personality?typefocus-logo
    2. How can I get along with people better?
    3. What are my learning style strengths?

The SciPhD Online Self-Assessment training course introduces 24 core business competencies valued by business, relates them to experiences academic scientists have already had, and assists you in scoring your ability in each of these areas. You will also develop “experience statements” that are practical demonstrations of your competency in each area.  Cost of this assessment and report to the individual user is $19.95. sciphd-training-logo


UAB Research News

  • In cancer's aftermath, helping survivors confront "late effects"
    Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., director of UAB's new Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship, explains how cancer treatments can lead to chronic health conditions in later life — and how "survivorship clinics" will help.

    Written by Matt Windsor

    This article is adapted from a video interview with Dr. Bhatia on UAB’s MD Learning Channel.

    Even after cancer is defeated, it can cast a lifelong shadow. “Cancer survivorship represents a very critical phase,” said Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatric oncologist and director of the new Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship in the UAB School of Medicine and associate director for cancer outcomes research at theUAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We and others have shown in our research studies that our cancer survivors are a vulnerable population,” she said. “When you follow them long-term, you find that they have a very high burden of chronic health conditions.”

    Often, these health problems can be linked back to cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation and even surgeries, Bhatia said. Because these complications can occur “many years after the completion of treatment,” they are called “late effects.” One example involves a particular class of chemotherapy drug known as anthracyclines. “We use these agents often because they are highly effective in a large variety of cancers,” Bhatia said. But research shows that patients who take these drugs have a high risk of developing congestive heart failure many years later.

    Girls who have “received radiation to the chest around puberty for lymphoma,” have “an increased risk of breast cancer,” Bhatia added. And this breast cancer “occurs at a much younger age than would be anticipated in the general population. So these girls are developing breast cancer at age 30 and 40, whereas in the general population you’d be anticipating breast cancer at age 60.”

    Results from a survey have shown that only a third of patients realize they are at risk for these late effects, and because the family practitioners and internists who are seeing these patients do not encounter cancer survivors very often, “it is not in the forefront in terms of their understanding, in terms of their knowledge base and in terms of their experience of what they should anticipate,” Bhatia said. Addressing this situation becomes even more urgent as the number of survivors grows, she adds. “The number of cancer survivors is growing at the rate of about 2 percent every year,” Bhatia said. “We will, by about 2022, have 18 million cancer survivors.”

    “In order to provide the most comprehensive long-term care to our survivors, we need care plans. These “are essentially a summary of all the treatment that the patients received for their particular cancer, along with recommendations for long-term follow-up in order to detect complications.”

    That is why UAB is establishing special survivorship clinics. “In order to provide the most comprehensive long-term care to our survivors, we need care plans,” Bhatia said. These “are essentially a summary of all the treatment that the patients received for their particular cancer, along with recommendations for long-term follow-up in order to detect complications.”

    The idea, Bhatia said, is to lay out “a roadmap for our cancer survivors for life. That’s what I would like to do for all our cancer survivors who are coming to UAB, no matter what diagnosis they have, no matter what their age is, from here on.”

    Survivorship clinics are staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, psychologists, and dietitians, “who provide absolutely comprehensive but very tailored care to the survivors,” Bhatia said. “So we would, for example, do heart tests in order to detect heart failure at an earlier stage only amongst patients who’ve received treatments that are toxic to the heart. Mammograms would be recommended for patients who’ve received radiation to the chest at a young age, and who are at risk for breast cancer.”

    This “very tailored but anticipatory screening” is designed “to detect these complications at an earlier stage,” said Bhatia.

    The same survivorship model can now be extended to care for patients with many different chronic health conditions, Bhatia says. These include patients with sickle cell disease, HIV, congenital heart disease — “any chronic condition where the health care providers can really coordinate the care of the patient as a whole, the entirety of their health, and provide complete and comprehensive care long-term.”

  • On the front lines of the heroin epidemic, offering a lifesaving treatment
    Naloxone kits have prevented more than 10,000 deaths from opioid overdose since local distribution programs began in 1996. Now, as deaths from opioid overdose reach an all-time high in the United States, a crowdfunded project from UAB researchers aims to put naloxone in the hands of those at highest risk.

    Written by Matt Windsor

    Deaths from opioid overdose are at an all-time high across the United States, and Birmingham has been hit particularly hard. In the past four years, heroin overdose deaths in Jefferson County and surrounding areas rose from 12 individuals to 137. But a team of UAB researchers is taking action to respond.

    The group is led by Karen Cropsey, Psy.D., an associate professor in theUAB School of MedicineDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology. Cropsey specializes in substance abuse treatment in vulnerable populations; some of her current research programs involve treatment of individuals in the criminal justice system and people living with HIV/AIDS. She regularly witnesses the devastation of prescription opioid and heroin overdose in Birmingham. “I felt like there was something we could do about that,” she said.

    To combat the rising rates of death from overdose, Cropsey and her team are exploring the distribution of naloxone kits directly to individuals with opioid addictions, or their caregivers. Using naloxone isn't a new idea. It's been the standard of care for opioid overdose in emergency rooms, including at UAB, since the early 1970s. The kits offer a last resort option to reverse an opioid overdose and prevent death. Several states, including California, New Mexico and Massachusetts, have successful local distribution programs for naloxone. In 2010 the CDC reported that since the first local distribution programs began in 1996, naloxone kits have prevented more than 10,000 deaths from opioid overdose.

    Naloxone to the people

    Cropsey and her colleagues want to bring a naloxone program to Birmingham as well. But “our program is different,” Cropsey said. Instead of distributing naloxone kits to first responders and law enforcement officers — the typical model — the UAB team wants to try a new approach: prescribing kits to individuals.

    By taking advantage of the new Crowdfunding at UAB site, Cropsey’s team raised grassroots financial support for a unique study. In 30 days, the team collected $11,500 in pledges — enough to purchase more than 200 naloxone kits. Now they’re working to get the kits into the hands of the people who need them most: active opioid and heroin users.

    The researchers are now hanging flyers around Birmingham and screening individuals interested in participating. They will be collecting information on how many kits are used, how many deaths they prevented and if participants follow up with treatment options after using naloxone. “I want to demonstrate that these kits can save lives,” Cropsey said. 

    Participants in the study are receiving training “on how to recognize signs of opioid overdose and how to administer the naloxone,” Cropsey said. They are instructed to then call 911 and go to the emergency room. Training is also being offered to friends or family members. It’s analogous to an EpiPen for someone with allergies, or insulin for someone with diabetes, Cropsey says the person who is prescribed the treatment may not be able to use it when it’s needed.

    How naloxone works

    When a person overdoses on an opioid, their breathing starts to slow down. After about one to two hours — or as short as a few minutes — breathing slows to a stop. This leaves a narrow but vital window to intervene. Opioids such as heroin or prescription drugs, including hydrocodone and oxycodone, work by latching on to receptors in the brain that produce their powerful effects. Naloxone rapidly displaces these drugs and then occupies the receptors so the opioid cannot return. Within minutes, the opioid is completely removed and the person who overdosed begins to breathe again.

    But that success comes at a price. With complete removal of the opioid’s effects on the brain, naloxone puts the user into immediate, severe withdrawal. Imagine a sudden onset of the worst flu-like symptoms you’ve ever had, Cropsey explained. It’s “the nuclear option for people who would otherwise die.”

    Make a gift to support the naloxone crowdsourcing project

    “They need to be alive to get treatment”

    Working with such a stigmatized group of people brings challenges, Cropsey says. She often hears that people addicted to drugs should just quit — that they choose to be addicted in the first place and need to choose to stop. But while addiction does start as a choice, Cropsey explains, it doesn’t take long for a user’s system to get hijacked by the drugs.

    Besides, many of us are dealing with the consequences of choices that negatively affect our health, she adds. Whether it’s Type 2 diabetes or obesity from our eating habits, or lung cancer from smoking, a majority of the leading causes of death result from behavioral choices we make, Cropsey said. “Addiction is a medical disease just as much as heart disease or diabetes.”

    In an ideal world, no one would use drugs, Cropsey said. “Unfortunately that’s not the case here. We don’t live in an ideal world.” More than 2.5 million people in the United States abuse prescription opioids or heroin. Addiction finds its way into the lives of our families, friends and coworkers, Cropsey said. “What would you do if this was your friend or family member?”

    Cropsey acknowledges the argument that distributing kits is simply enabling addiction. Naloxone kits reduce harm of overdose by preventing death, she says, but they aren’t the complete picture. “The goal is to get people substance abuse treatment to help them stop using opioids,” Cropsey said. “But they need to be alive to get treatment.”

    If you are actively using a prescription opioid or heroin, or are the friend or family member of an active user, and are interested in learning more about the program, call 205-975-4528 and ask about the naloxone study.

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