UAB Magazine Weekly - Features on Health Care
Preparing Peace Corps Volunteers for Nursing Careers
By Jo Lynn Orr
The two years Andrea Torre spent in Dimbwe Village in southern Zambia changed her life. Now she has come to the UAB School of Nursing (SON) to learn the skills she needs to spend the rest of her career helping to change others’ lives.
As a Peace Corps volunteer from 2006 to 2008, Torre was officially tasked with helping to teach women in Dimbwe about HIV prevention. But once she learned the local language and got to know the people, Torre took on a larger role. “I worked with women’s groups on income-generating activities, taught math at the local school, and worked with the local clinic to vaccinate and weigh children five years old and younger,” she says.
Collaborating with the village’s parent-teacher association, Torre wrote a grant proposal and received $3,000. “Over the next eight months, a preschool was built with local materials and local labor, a local teacher was hired, and 45 children each year will now receive an early education,” she says.
After returning to her hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah, Torre worked as a program director at a local nonprofit organization while she settled on a future career. “I went back and forth between teaching and nursing,” she says. She decided on the latter, because “I knew with nursing I could educate and heal.”
By Matt Windsor
Most patients form smaller stones that they usually can pass spontaneously, says Assimos. “Medications can be prescribed to facilitate stone passage, but patients who are not able to pass their stones may need to undergo a stone-removing procedure,” he says.
The UAB Department of Urology offers patients all forms of stone-removing treatments, including shock-wave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, percutaneous nephrostolithotomy, laparoscopic and robotic surgery, and open surgical stone removal, Assimos says.
“The choice of treatment is based on the size, location, and composition of the stone, the anatomy of the patient’s urinary tract, the condition of the patient, and patient desires,” Assimos explains. “Fortunately, patients rarely need to undergo open surgical removal, as even those with extremely large stones can be treated effectively with a minimally invasive approach such as percutaneous nephrostolithotomy.” In this procedure, Assimos explains, small tubes are placed into the kidney through the skin; instruments are passed through the tubes and the stone material is removed.
To make an appointment, call (205) 801-8000 or (800) UAB-8816.
Inflammation is a necessary component of the immune system’s fight
against infections and the repair of damaged tissues—but problems can arise if the fire won’t subside.
Asthma, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even depression have been linked to a constant activation of the inflammatory response. It’s not an easy condition to treat, either, because its causes include obesity, stress, and pollution, among others. As a result, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., the Webb Endowed Chair of Nutrition Sciences, and many other UAB researchers are investigating ways to control inflammation on an individual basis.
They’re not the only ones searching for a solution. Several high-profile celebrities have been touting “anti-inflammatory” diets as a cure. These diets call for eating lots of fruits and vegetables, decreasing consumption of processed carbohydrates, replacing fats and proteins containing omega-6 with their omega-3 counterparts such as fish, and using olive oil instead of other oils.
SImulated Patients Help Med Students Learn People Skills
By Matt Windsor
Bill Moates is sick for a reason. Several times a year, he adopts an alias, carefully rehearses his symptoms, and tries to convince medical students that there is something wrong with him. Tonight, as the students start to visit his exam room, he has a story to tell.
Moates isn’t looking to score some medication or a free night in the hospital. In fact, he’s fulfilling an essential role in the doctor-training enterprise at the UAB School of Medicine. He is a member of the public enacting the part of a standardized patient, commonly known as an SP, in order to help medical students learn the physical and emotional skills they’ll need to care for real patients.
Story continues after video
On this August evening, Moates is preparing for a five-hour shift as UAB senior medical students take their Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE). “I’m having a ball,” he says with a grin. The medical students are not so relaxed. A passing grade on the OSCE is required for graduation, and the tension on the third floor of Volker Hall is palpable.
While the rest of the building is given over to lecture halls, research labs, and offices, the third floor looks a lot like a private medical practice—with some special features. There are 20 exam rooms on the floor, branching off two long corridors. Outside each room is a computer terminal and a chair, and sitting in the chairs are 20 medical students, staring straight ahead with expressions of nervous concentration.
A voice comes over the loudspeakers: “Please enter your rooms now.” In unison, the students stand up, knock on the closed doors of their exam rooms, and get to work.
UAB Fertility Advances Bring Help and Hope
By Julie Hall Bosché
Sometimes it takes a little science to help fulfill a dream. At least that’s what it often feels like for people who turn to UAB’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility for answers, help, and hope.
Now more of those dreams are coming true. In less than 10 years, UAB’s success rate for in vitro fertilization (IVF) has more than doubled. Division director G. Wright Bates, M.D., credits much of the success to refinements in IVF techniques. “We have come a long way in treatment cycles,” he says. “Back in 2002, less than one in four women with a good prognosis got pregnant within a month. Now we often exceed 50 percent in a month with IVF.” He adds that increased awareness of infertility issues—and more widespread information on potential solutions—also has helped educate the public and encouraged more patients to learn about their options.
Increasing the Chances
Today, the division, which provides individualized care to both women and men, continues to investigate new advances in fertility treatment that will increase the chances of conceiving and carrying healthy babies. One avenue of research is the multicenter PCOS-II Trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is testing two oral medications, clomiphene citrate (Clomid) and letrozole (Femara), to determine which is the most effective in inducing ovulation and enhancing fertility in women who have irregular cycles, don’t ovulate regularly, or exhibit signs of hormone imbalance.
WATCH: Infertility: 35 is the new 25
Wright Bates discusses the latest science in fertility treatment in this video presentation.
“We’re thrilled to be part of this group,” Bates says. “There is no other center in the Southeast participating, and we think it’s a great way for us to improve our treatment options, and better serve the women of Alabama.”
The trial covers basic fertility testing for both women and men and provides four months of treatment. Patients interested in enrolling in the trial can call study coordinator Susan Mason at (205) 801-8207 for more information and a phone screening.
Another revolutionary development, Bates says, is pre-implantation genetic screening, which examines embryos for disease and potential developmental problems. “This doesn’t mean designer babies, or choosing hair color and eye color,” Bates explains. “We’re talking about ensuring a normal chromosomal number and avoiding major developmental issues to enhance the chances of producing a normal, healthy offspring.”
Bates is quick to underscore the division’s emphasis on healthy pregnancies. UAB is committed to avoiding high-order multiples—triplets or more—that can pose a threat to both the woman and the fetuses, he says.