At the School of Medicine, we are committed to promoting student wellness both inside and outside the medical school setting. Since their creation in 2011, the Learning Communities have helped our medical students navigate medical school while maintaining physical and mental well-being. These 11 small groups led by faculty mentors from a variety of disciplines incorporate discussions on wellness, professional development, ethics, interprofessional teamwork, health disparities, ethics, and community engagement.

Students in six of the Learning Communities recently had a chance to choose new names for their groups based on a list of leaders and luminaries from our school’s past and present. The students selected the following names: Barfield-Carter, Finley, Hamilton, Lyons, McCallum, and Oparil.

The Barfield-Carter Community is named for Melson Barfield-Carter, M.D., who became chair of the Department of Radiology in 1945, a position she held until 1955. She also was the first woman department head at the UAB Medical Center. The Hamilton Community is named for Herschell Lee Hamilton, M.D., a surgeon who was the first African-American to receive operative privileges at University Hospital. Dr. Hamilton earned his nicknames as the “Dog Bite Doctor” and the “Battle Surgeon” for his heroic work helping injured activists during the civil rights movement. The Lyons community is named after Champ Lyons, M.D., who became the first full-time chair of the Department of Surgery in 1950. Wayne Finley, M.D., Ph.D., and Sara Crews Finley, M.D., inspired the Finley Community. The Finleys were pioneers in the field of medical genetics and co-founded UAB's Laboratory of Medical Genetics, the first of its kind in the Southeast. As the third UAB president, Charles McCallum Jr., M.D., DMD, is the inspiration behind the McCallum Community. The Oparil Community recognizes current faculty member Suzanne Oparil, M.D., FACC, FAHA, FASH, FAPS, a renowned cardiologist and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine.

The other five Learning Communities whose names remain unchanged include Harrison, Hill, Hirschowitz, Kirklin, and Pittman. To read more about the renaming and the history of the School of Medicine’s Learning Communities, click here.

We not only focus on helping students successfully navigate medical school, but we are committed to helping manage the cost of medical school. USA Today College recently recognized our efforts by naming the School of Medicine one of the Top 20 most affordable medical schools in the country. The report notes that the School of Medicine, which ranks No. 16 on the list, helps its graduates save on debt at almost the equivalent of a year’s worth of a first-year medical resident’s typical $54,100 salary stipend. To learn how you can help ease the burden of medical school debt on students through scholarships, contact Jessica Brooks Lane at or (205) 975-4452.

Finally, I'm saddened to report that we have lost a beloved colleague and incomparable role model in William (Bill) Dismukes, M.D., MACP. He died June 19 at age 78, and he was remarkable leader in the School of Medicine who served as the second director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the vice chair of the Department of Medicine. He also was the director of the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program, where he served for two decades shaping the minds of more than 500 physicians—nearly 1 percent of the internists between ages 45-65 who practice in the U.S. today. We will miss him dearly. To read more about his extraordinary legacy, click here.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean
James C. Lee Endowed Chair

July 2017