UAB Magazine Weekly - Features on Courses and Programs
Training Dentists to See the Whole Patient
By Doug Gillett
Mark LaGory and Michael McCracken
Cavities, fillings, plaque buildup, gum disease—dentists in training have a lot to learn about potential problems in the mouth. But at the UAB School of Dentistry, lessons no longer end at the lips. Students now evaluate a host of issues not normally considered part of routine dental care: What other health problems do patients have that might be associated with their dental problems? What aspects of their lifestyles might be contributing factors? And, depending on their socioeconomic status, will they have access to the follow-up care they’ll need down the road?
This new holistic approach can be summed up in three words that are heard frequently around the dental school these days: “the whole patient.” The idea is that patients aren’t just mouths to be worked on but rather whole bodies that are unique members of a diverse society. This is the focus of an innovative new course, “Dentistry and Dental Health: Socio-cultural Factors,” that examines the links between dentistry and daily life.
Stories from UAB’s Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway
Bryan Combs left a career as an athletic trainer to pursue a nursing degree.
By Doug Gillett
One student was headed toward a career in hospital administration until she heard the call of nursing. Another spent several years in UAB’s research labs but decided she wanted a health-care career with more one-on-one contact. Yet another left a successful career in athletic training, working with some of the Southeast’s most prestigious college-football programs, to forge a new path in nursing.
All of these students joined the first class of the UAB School of Nursing’s Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway for Second Degree Students. The program offers college graduates with bachelor’s degrees—even degrees unrelated to health care—a “fast track” to a master’s degree in nursing and an opportunity to sit for the nursing board exams.
From the moment they joined the program in May 2008 until they receive their master’s degrees in August 2010, this first group of students will experience some of the most in-depth training available to nurses anywhere. In this series of audiocasts, the students explain what prompted them to seek out new opportunities in nursing; they also discuss the challenges they’ve faced in the program and talk about the rewards they’ve already found in their new field.
Innovative UAB Course Gives Students Roles of a Lifetime
By Tyler Greer
Andrew Keitt (right) encourages students to play active roles in history's great debates.
What thoughts raced through Galileo’s mind when he first trained his telescope skyward and saw the craters of the moon? How did he, a devout Catholic, feel when his insistence that the Earth revolves around the Sun brought him into direct conflict with the Church? And just what was it about that hypothesis that troubled church leaders so deeply?
UAB historian Andrew Keitt, Ph.D., knows the answers to these questions. And it would be easy for him to stand up in front of his classroom and share them in a standard lecture. But for the past several semesters, Keitt has been experimenting with a different way of teaching—a form of time travel called Reacting to the Past, in which students live ideas, rather than memorize them.
A New Way of Looking at Disease
By Jo Lynn Orr
The next time you reach into the medicine cabinet for some instant relief, you might want to take a moment to reconsider the long-term consequences. “When we get sick, our first inclination is to take a pill to make the symptoms go away, but that might not be the healthiest thing to do,” says UAB biologist David Kraus, Ph.D. Taking acetaminophen to reduce a fever, for example, tampers with “a highly coordinated set of physiological responses that allows our body temperature to rise in order to fight infection from foreign invaders like bacteria,” says Kraus. “If we reduce the fever, we are inhibiting finely tuned, evolved mechanisms that are useful for our health.”
These mechanisms are not restricted to fever—or disease, for that matter. The complex relationship between human health and evolutionary processes—generally studied under the name “evolutionary medicine”—has become a hot topic among scientists in a host of disciplines. Students are catching on, too. Kraus and fellow UAB biologist Jeannette Doeller, Ph.D., who are husband and wife, developed a popular course on evolutionary medicine in the Schools of Public Health and Natural Sciences and Mathematics that has seen enrollment soar from 25 students in 2003 to 150 last year.
Exploring the Limits of the Brain
By Caperton Gillett
Descartes's concept of how sensations travel from the extremities to the brain
At least, that’s what most of us probably think. And many of the world’s most illustrious thinkers have agreed. The exact relationship between the human brain and the human mind has been debated by philosophers throughout the ages. Plato and Aristotle fought for dualism—the idea that the mind or spirit is independent of the physical brain. Their contemporary, Parmenides, argued the case for monism: that body and spirit are one and the same.
Over the years, Plato, Aristotle, and their dualistic successor, Descartes, have undoubtedly had the upper hand. But ever since the 1920s, when science began to take a keen interest in the subject, the tables have turned. Sort of.