The 2015 UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 features five alumni from the UAB School of Health Professions. The award, given by the UAB National Alumni Society to identify, recognize, and celebrate the success of the top 25 UAB alumni-owned or UAB alumni-operated businesses, went to Mark Bowling, Gretchen Napier Geagan, Mazi Rasulnia, Eric Robinson and Robert J. Zasa.

Singh Rasulniaaward winner Rasulnia, 2nd from rightMazi Rasulnia:
Mazi is Founder of M Consulting and Co-Founder and President of PACK Health in Birmingham, Alabama. He has the distinction of receiving three degrees from three schools at UAB. He earned a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Public Health and a Ph.D. M Consulting provides strategic planning to pharmaceutical companies, payers, and health systems. PACK Health provides personalized services to patients in order to improve chronic conditions. He credits UAB with providing him the knowledge and skills to apply business principles in health care.

Mark Bowling:
Mark is Owner and President of MedTrust, Inc., a company he founded in 1993. He earned his Master of Hospital and Health Administration from UAB in 1982. Upon graduation, Mark received the foundation to branch out and start his own physician practice management firm after working 10 years for Humana Hospital Corporation. When he established MedTrust, he consulted his professors and colleagues on how to structure his business. Headquartered in Martinez, Georgia, MedTrust employs 25 people; and provides physician practice and medical clinic management services.

Geagan Zasa BowlingGeagan (2nd left), Zasa (middle), Bowling (2nd right)Gretchen Napier Geagan:
Gretchen serves as CEO of Life-Links Geriatric Care Management in Brentwood, Tennessee. She received her Master of Health Administration from UAB in 1995. For the past 20 years, Gretchen has devoted her career to making the final phase of life, for those she serves, as fulfilling as possible. She joined Life-Links in 2009 as co-owner and became the owner and CEO in 2012. Life-Links’ Care Managers are Certified Members of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers and have Master’s Degrees in related fields or years of professional experience.

Eric Robinson:
Eric is CEO for Natchez Community Hospital and Natchez Regional Medical Center in Natchez, Mississippi. He earned his Master of Business Administration in 2004 and his Master of Healthcare Administration in 2005, both from UAB. Eric was named CEO at Natchez Community Hospital in 2012 and CEO of Natchez Regional Medical Center in 2014. Currently, he is tasked with consolidating the operations of the two who have been competitors for the past 40 years. Combined, they employ more than 500 people and provide surgical and general medicine services to Adams County, Mississippi.

Robert J. Zasa:
Robert is Managing Partner at Ambulatory Systems Development Management based in Incline Village, NV and Dana Point, CA. He earned his Master of Hospital and Health Administration from UAB in 1975. He entered the field as an administrator for the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans and operated Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham. Founded in 1986, ASD provides management and consulting services to ambulatory surgery centers throughout the United States. Currently, ASD works to develop, turn around, and manage surgery centers in joint ventures with physicians and hospital systems.
US News Rankingscourtesy U.S. News & World ReportThe UAB Master of Science in Health Administration program is now ranked #2 in the nation according to the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings. That is currently the highest ranking for any program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The MSHA program, housed in the Department of Health Services Administration, is only one-tenth of a point behind the top ranked program in the category of Best Grad Schools in Health Care Management.

The UAB Physician Assistant program makes the highest jump of any program in the UAB School of Health Professions, leaping nine notches up to 16th in the nation. The PA improvement gives the school three Top 20 ranked programs.

The latest rankings were released in the 2016 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.”

“Every year many different groups hand out many different rankings yet the gold standard year in and year out is U.S. News & World Report because it is based upon the input of peer programs and institutions; and let me tell you, there is no better feeling than to be named one of the best in the nation by your peers,” said UAB School of Health Professions Dean Harold P. Jones, Ph.D. “To be ranked takes input from everyone involved in a program both past and present; it is the culmination of students, alumni, faculty and staff working together to better each other and that effort is reflected in each of these programs.”

The UAB School of Health Professions held the annual Faculty and Staff Awards Luncheon on Monday, March 2, 2015, at the UAB Alumni House. In addition to highlighting each of the winners, we are including a link to the copy of the introduction made by each presenter. The winners are:

SHP Faculty Staff Award WinnersStanding L/R: Foster, Demark-Wahnefried
Seated L/R: Brown, Graham, Slovensky
Cecilia Graham, Ph.D.: The Joseph F. Volker Award for the regular, full-time faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in and dedication to teaching, distinctive research and other scholarly endeavors, and/or notable service to the School, University and community. She was presented by David Morris, Ph.D.

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D.: The Excellence in Scholarship Award for the faculty member has made significant scholarly contributions resulting in the advancement of knowledge. Contributions include funded research, involvement in research process, publications in peer reviewed journals and more. She was presented by Paula Chandler-Laney, Ph.D.

Donna Slovensky, Ph.D.: The Excellence in Service Award for faculty member who has made significant contributions to the School or their profession including projects and positions that bring national, state or local recognition and more. She was presented by Christy Lemak, Ph.D.

Michelle Brown, MS, MLS(ASCP)SBB: The Excellence in Teaching Award for faculty member who exhibited success in developing effective teaching methods, courses and teaching materials that generate student learning, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and research. She was presented by Tino Unlap, Ph.D.

Mary Foster: The Beverly W. Smith Outstanding Employee Award for a non-faculty employee who excels in numerous areas such as professionalism, attitude, productivity, efficiency, creativity, communication and competence. She was presented by Cathy Jones.

Visit our Flickr page ( to see all the photos from the day.
Carl FrizellPA Student Carl Frizell
Nelson Memorial Scholarship Winner
Carl Frizell, a UAB Physician Assistant student, is awarded the Ron Nelson Memorial Scholarship from the Physician Assistant Foundation. The $2,000 award is given annually to students “who plan to advance healthcare delivery in rural areas” and that is a cause that is close to Frizell’s heart.

“Being a resident of Holmes County, Mississippi, one of the poorest counties in the nation and currently the poorest county in the state of Mississippi, has led me to become a future Physician Assistant who plans to become an impactful healthcare provider, especially in rural communities,” said Frizell, who is scheduled to graduate in December 2015.

The PA Foundation, which has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to students, said they received more than 1,200 applications and only awarded 38 scholarships.

HSA Case 02Eventual winner UNC - Chapel Hill presents at
2015 Case Competition
A record 38 universities, including more than 200 students, from across the United States and Canada competed in the 9th annual Health Administration Case Competition. The winning team, for a record third year in a row, was University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The UAB team, consisting of Greg Beliles, Sydney Davis and Sarah Hughes who are all students in the UAB Master of Science in Healthcare Administration program, reached the semi-final round.

The event, held at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham Wynfrey Hotel on February 26 - 27, was hosted by the UAB Department of Health Services Administration and UAB Health System.

The Case Competition takes a real-life problem, in this case it was determining the need to build a comprehensive respiratory center, and asks graduate students from programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education) (CAHME) to best solve the problem. At the two-day competition, the students present their case to leaders from the healthcare industry in multiple rounds.

Richard J. Umbdenstock, FACHERichard J. Umbdenstock, FACHE, delivers Jordan LectureRichard J. Umbdenstock, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of the American Hospital Association, delivered the 11th annual L.R. (Rush) Jordan Distinguished Lecture to a crowd of hospital administrators and UAB School of Health Professions alumni and students.

He opened by saying, “Mr. Jordan’s work in integrated healthcare was visionary and his contributions to healthcare leadership education were legendary.”

He then addressed the students from across the country in attendance for the Health Administration Case Competition.

“The passion for collaboration you are showing just by showing up tells me that you are already owning a critical leadership skill,” said Umbdenstock who recently received the American College of Healthcare Executives 2015 Gold Medal Award. “This is so much more of a team sport today than it has ever been, and it will be going forward.”

*This story was written by Jenn Waters and originally appeared in the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association 2015 E-DITION - our thanks to everyone for generously allowing us to share.

Cecilia Graham, Ph.D., Cerasoli LecturerCecilia Graham, Ph.D., (center) Cerasoli LecturerA concept-based approach to physical therapy education was the message delivered by Cecilia Graham, PT, PhD, during the 18th annual Pauline Cerasoli Lecture on February 6.

“A picture of the physical therapist of the future is emerging,” Graham said. “We envision movement system experts who are leaders, innovators, collaborators, and entrepreneurs who can synthesize rapidly changing information, integrate advances in technology into practice, and have the flexibility to thrive in an evolving health care environment.”

Her vision results in the creation of an exciting but challenging opportunity for educators to prepare future physical therapists and physical therapist assistants.

“I decided the time was right to begin a dialogue about future curriculum models in physical therapy,” she said. “I want to help stimulate discussion about what education models would be good [for the profession].”

She asked attendees to think about their experiences as students or clinical educators. “What aspects stuck with you the most? What made some experiences more meaningful than others?”

Graham then identified different factors that affect the need for curricular change. One factor is the information explosion.

FirehouseUAB OT helps at The FirehouseIt sounded out of the ordinary. UAB Occupational Therapy students spent a day at the Firehouse Shelter, a men’s homeless shelter in Birmingham, working on client’s resumes.

We’ve seen UAB OT students build chairs for disabled children in Uganda. We’ve seen them create affordable solutions for people suffering from injury. But editing resumes?

“Ultimately Occupational Therapy is about helping people reach independence and reach their goals,” said Sarah Tucker, MS, OTR/L, assistant professor in the UAB School of Health Professions. “So helping with resumes is just another example of what OTs do - we help people with life skills.”

Michelle BrownMichelle Brown, MS, MLS (ASCP) SBB
ASCP Southeast Member of the Year
University of Alabama at Birmingham assistant professor Michelle Brown, MS, MLS (ASCP) SBB, has been named 2014 Member of the Year, Southeast Region, by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. She is one of only six in the U.S. to be honored by ASCP.

“Ms. Brown’s energy and enthusiasm for the laboratory profession has led her to be called a ‘cheerleader’ of Medical Laboratory Science,” said Lynnette Chakkaphak, MS, MT (ASCP), member of the ASCP Board of Governors. “She shares this enthusiasm with her students, encouraging them to become laboratory leaders and active members of the healthcare team.”

“ASCP is an organization that provides leadership and a strong, cohesive voice for the entire laboratory medicine team,” said Brown who is also the clinical education coordinator in the UAB Clinical Laboratory Science program. “I am honored to be recognized for enhancing the field of Medical Laboratory Science and it is a pleasure to be able to serve the members of ASCP.”