Vickers bookcase cropped LROn Sunday I attended a seminal event in the lives of our students when the School of Medicine welcomed our incoming first-year medical students at the White Coat Ceremony. On hand to help students don their new white coats, which are generously provided each year by the Medical Alumni Association, were David Bramm, M.D., representing the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus; Gustavo Heudebert, M.D., interim dean of the Montgomery Regional Medical Campus; and Richard Friend, M.D., interim regional dean of the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus.

This cloaking ceremony is a physical demonstration of the faith we have in the ability of these remarkable young people to carry on the legacy of our profession. It also represents our faculty members’ commitment to support our students throughout their medical school journeys.

This year’s ceremony featured remarks from several School of Medicine leaders: Christina Grabowski, Ph.D., our associate dean for admissions and enrollment management; Nicholas Van Wagoner, M.D., Ph.D., our new assistant dean for students; and John Wheat, M.D., MPH, president-elect of the Medical Alumni Association and director of the Rural Medical Scholars Program at the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. Dr. Wheat presented the Martha Myers Role Model Awards, which recognize humanism in medicine, to two alumni: retired Army Col. Robert Henderson, M.D. ’62; and Beverly Flowers Jordan, M.D. ’02, FAAFP. Dr. Henderson ran a private practice in Maryland for 30 years that provided otolaryngology services to the underserved. Dr. Jordan is a physician partner at Professional Medical Associates in Enterprise and has served in leadership positions with a number of health care organizations across the state.

We presented the Sara Crews Finley, M.D. Endowed Leadership Scholarship to third-year medical student James Dixon Johns. The scholarship honors the legacy of a pioneer in medical genetics and a beloved faculty member and student mentor. The goal of the Sara Crews Finley, M.D. Leadership Scholarship is to recognize and support students who demonstrate exceptional leadership abilities both in and outside of their medical training.

Catherine Parker, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery and co-director of the UAB Women in Surgery Program, became the fourth recipient of the Brewer-Heslin Award for Professionalism in Medicine. The award is named for the late Alabama Governor Albert Brewer and UAB Medicine’s Chief of the Medical Staff Martin Heslin, M.D. The endowment was established by Governor Brewer in 2015 to recognize physicians at UAB who demonstrate extraordinary commitment to providing highly skilled and deeply compassionate medical care to their patients.

James Willig, M.D., MSPH, our associate dean of clinical education, provided this year’s White Coat Ceremony keynote address. Dr. Willig gave a touching and meaningful speech about what earning the right to wear the white coat requires and how it changes a person. “Your white coat requires you to be focused on dual excellence. You must grow each day as professional and as a person,” he noted during his speech. “Your white coat will highlight just how important each moment with your friends and families is. I hope the difficult things you will see wearing that white coat underscore how precious each relationship is. I hope you learn to cherish each moment and that you strive to be present.” You can watch his keynote address and the entire White Coat Ceremony on our website.

Lastly, we are excited to welcome Talmadge “T.” E. King Jr., M.D., dean of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, to campus September 28 to provide the 2018 keynote address for our Leadership in Academic Medicine Lecture series. Dr. King’s talk is titled “Prepare for Opportunity: A Dean’s Prospective on Leadership.” Sponsored by UAB Medicine, our Leadership in Academic Medicine Lecture series brings high-profile leaders to Birmingham to discuss issues facing UAB and other prominent academic medical centers. If you can’t join us in person, I hope you will watch a video of the lecture on our website.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
Senior Vice President for Medicine
Dean, School of Medicine
James C. Lee Jr. Endowed Chair
University of Alabama at Birmingham