As we begin a new year, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with the broader School of Medicine community key developments that have occurred in undergraduate medical education in 2017, including leadership changes and updates in admissions, the continued success of the learning communities and the launch of a new degree track program.
Leadership changes in Admissions
This spring, Christina J. Grabowski, Ph.D., joined the School of Medicine as the associate dean for admissions and enrollment management. In her role, she leads the student recruitment, admissions, records and registration, and financial aid programs to recruit and support a diverse student body best suited to the School of Medicine. She will also establish direction and priorities for admissions, develop an overall strategic admissions and recruitment plan, and continually evaluate the admissions experience.
I believe Dr. Grabowski will be a transformative leader in the School of Medicine as we continue to use a holistic approach to admissions, which balances academic and nonacademic factors in evaluating applicants. Using a holistic approach allows the Admissions Committee to determine not only which students could handle the rigors of medical school but also identify applicants who possess qualities that are essential for delivering competent and compassionate patient care.
Increasing diversity and inclusion
This year, the School of Medicine matriculated the most diverse class in school history. We welcomed 29 students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine (URiM)—a substantial increase from the previous year, when we welcomed 17 URiM students. The improved diversity of the class can be linked to the collaborative work of the interim admissions leadership team—including Dr. Laura Kezar, Dr. Shawn Galin, Dr. Lanita Carter and Dr. John Woods—and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, under the leadership of Dr. Carlton Young.
Continued development of Learning Communities
Our Learning Communities continue to be a strong presence for our students. Formalized into the medical curriculum in 2015, the Learning Communities serve as way for our students to develop close relationships with their peers and faculty mentors.
This year, we hosted the Learning Communities Institute’s (LCI) annual conference Sept. 15-17, welcoming more than 160 medical students, faculty, and administrators from 40 medical schools across the United States and Mexico. Being host to this meeting was a feather in the cap for UAB and our Learning Communities program since our programs are relatively new and the event was highly regarded. I congratulate Dr. Caroline Harada and Jason Noah for their efforts in making this meeting a success.
Primary Care Track accepting applicants
In efforts to continue addressing the critical need for more primary care physicians in Alabama, the School of Medicine is offering a new Primary Care Track to our four-year degree programs. Created in collaboration with the University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences, which serves as the School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus, the Primary Care Track is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in clinical medicine focused on preparation for residency training in primary care and other community-based specialty fields, through longitudinal experiences with patients, relationships with mentoring physicians, and special programming on population health and physician leadership skills.
Primary Care Track students will spend their third year in a model of clinical education called a longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC), based in Tuscaloosa or other communities around the state. Prospective students now applying to the School of Medicine have the option to apply for the Primary Care Track. Interviews will be taking place this fall and spring, and we expect to enroll as many as 23-24 students in his new program.