Selwyn Vickers, MD, FACSWhile a few decades may have passed since I attended medical school, I vividly recall the strong bonds I developed with some of my instructors. One of the influential figures in my life was Dr. Levi Watkins, an African-American surgeon from Montgomery who launched a program to actively recruit minority students to Johns Hopkins’ medical school. Another mentor was Dr. John Cameron, a surgeon whose tireless focus on impeccable training still benefits me and countless surgeons around the country. These figures and others were instrumental in shaping the surgeon and dean I am today. Their lessons left an indelible mark upon me and taught me the importance of instructors who truly invest in the success of their students.

Our faculty instructors are the compass for our medical students, helping guide them through the excitement and challenges of medical school. They are an invaluable part of our school and constantly evolve their teaching styles to instruct our students in the best ways possible. The Argus Awards recognize their contributions. Created in 1996 by the Argus Society, the Argus Awards allow our medical students to honor their mentors, professors, and course directors for outstanding service to medical education at UAB. It’s an interactive voting process in which faculty members are nominated based on course evaluations and students vote to select award winners in each category. Awards are divided into pre-clinical and clinical groups, and range from “Best Introductory Module” to “Best Educator: Musculoskeletal and Skin.” They also include awards for instructors at each of our regional medical campuses in Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, and Montgomery. You can view a full list of our 2018 winners here.

I’m proud of the winners, who come from a diverse range of specialties. They’re united in their goal to make learning as effective and engaging as possible, while remaining steadfastly focused on positively impacting the future of medicine.

Another faculty member focused on shaping the future of medicine is Matt Might, Ph.D., director of the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute at UAB. Dr. Might is leading an initiative to create a road map for the more than 30 million Americans facing rare disease. Dr. Might’s oldest child Bertrand is one of those Americans, as he was the first diagnosed case of N-glycanase (NGLY1) deficiency. You can read a recent Q&A with Dr. Might about his efforts in rare disease in the New York Times here.

I am reminded every day that our people are what make this place the extraordinary academic medical center it is, especially during challenging times. A little over a week ago, a group of our first-year pediatrics residents were involved in a severe bus accident following a retreat at Camp McDowell. As of this writing, all have been examined, treated if necessary, and released from either Cullman Regional Medical Center or UAB Hospital. I am thankful for their progress and continue to hold them in my thoughts and prayers. I’m also grateful to everyone in our UAB family who has stepped up to care for their friends and colleagues, cover shifts, and help wherever needed. I am tremendously proud to be a part of this health care community who see to it that those around them are cared for and the world is more illuminated than before.

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