Selwyn Vickers 4 LREarlier this month, the Medical Alumni Association (MAA) hosted the 47th Annual Medical Alumni Weekend, and I had the opportunity to speak to our remarkable former students. About 350 alumni were in attendance, and each had the option to participate in several events, such as Mini Medical School, an awards luncheon, class reunions, and the annual Reynolds-Finley lecture.

As we presented awards to several alumni, I was reminded of the extraordinary people who have passed through the School of Medicine. We train our students to be much more than excellent doctors. We also want them to be impactful members of their communities, which they deliver on time and time again.

At the luncheon, I also had the chance to thank the MAA for committing to invest in our scholarships for students from underrepresented in medicine (URiM) populations. We work diligently to ensure that the physicians in our state reflect the populations they serve, and I am deeply grateful that our alumni have chosen to partner with us in that endeavor. We know that when patients can see themselves reflected in their physicians, outcomes improve.

Additionally, as we celebrate Black History Month, I’d like to highlight Sandra Ford, M.D., who was one of the honorees at the luncheon. Dr. Ford is a 1978 graduate of the School of Medicine and one of the first five African-American women to graduate from the SOM. She is the first African-American woman to practice internal medicine in Birmingham. Dr. Ford was awarded the 2020 Hettie Butler Terry Community Service Award for her work with the Spirit of Luke Charitable Foundation, which sponsors “A Promise to Help,” a Black Belt faith and wholeness initiative. The volunteer organization assists in eliminating health care disparities throughout the Black Belt region by offering access to free medical, eye, and dental exams, as well as bloodwork and medications. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Ford, and to the countless alumni who are improving their own communities.

Similarly, I am happy to report that the premiere screening of “Dreams of Hope,” a concert documentary that explores the history of oppression against Jewish and African-American communities, was a great success. The event, directed by Henry Panion, Ph.D., professor in the UAB Department of Music, was held at the Alabama Theatre on Feb. 6. Jeffrey Bayer, president and CEO of Bayer Properties, and I co-hosted the screening and announced the formation of the Birmingham Coalition of Human Rights. This new initiative is very important to me because it will bring together and support organizations and leaders who will partner on citywide advocacy efforts as they work to change the perception of Birmingham. To that end, "Dreams of Hope" will be shown across America on public broadcasting stations across America to over 180 million people. More than 60% of our nation will see Birmingham in a positive spotlight. If we’re going to continue to bring the best and the brightest to UAB, we have to ensure that we’re building an even better Birmingham and leaning on our diversity as a strength. Be sure to check your local listings for a "Dreams of Hope" showing.

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
Chair, The University of Alabama Health Services Foundation Board