May 12, 2016

First medical student class set to graduate from UAB School of Medicine’s Montgomery Regional Medical campus

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Montgomery class largeFourth-year students at the Montgomery Regional Medical Campus, pictured with Dr. Wick Many (far left) and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. The first five students to attend their third and fourth years of medical school at the UAB School of Medicine’s Montgomery Regional Medical campus are set to graduate during the School of Medicine Commencement ceremony this Sunday, May 15.

The five, then- third-year medical students-- Adam Jones, Justin Malek, MacKenzie Malek, Elina Urazakova and Derek Wells— began their clinical rotations in May 2014 at the new Montgomery campus, collaboration between the School of Medicine, Baptist Health, the city of Montgomery, the Montgomery County Commission, and the Chamber of Commerce. The campus was created in an effort to increase the number of primary care physicians in Alabama and decrease the shortage of much-needed physicians in rural areas across the state.

The students said their close friendships created an atmosphere of camaraderie which allowed them to support one another throughout their coursework and rotations. Jones said having a small class allowed for a great bonding, personalized and one-on-one teaching atmosphere.

“The small class size at the Montgomery campus had a very positive impact on my third year of medical school,” Jones said. “I never felt like I was lost in the shuffle. Being able to work with the same doctors each day highlighted our strengths and weaknesses, and it always seemed like our teachers had a genuine interest in each of us as individuals.”

It was ultimately a group decision to decide on Montgomery. Each of the five students were initially assigned to other campuses when the Montgomery campus was established; they traveled to meet Regional Campus Dean W.J. Many, Jr. M.D., in early 2014. Concerns over attending a new campus were eased by Many’s enthusiasm and determination, which helped the group make the decision to continue their medical education in the River Region.

“All the physicians we trained under instilled in us not only the knowledge we need to be competent doctors, but they also taught us to be compulsive in order to not make careless errors,  to treat our patients the way we would want doctors to treat our family members, and to remain humble throughout our careers,” MacKenzie Malek said.

“It is difficult to comprehend the solid foundation that Adam, Justin, MacKenzie, Elina and Derek have laid for future classes to follow” Many said. “Their energy and excitement for learning was infectious and served as a motivation to all of us to offer the most optimal educational experiences possible.”

From here, the students will go on to continue their medical education through residency training. Justin Malek and MacKenzie Malek will train in general surgery and obstetrics and gynecology, respectively, at Texas A&M at Scott & White in Temple, Texas; Adam Jones will train in pathology at UAB Hospital; Derek Wells will train in internal medicine at Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia, South Carolina, and Elina Urazakova, will train in Family Medicine at Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia, South Carolina.

Since its opening two years ago, the Montgomery Regional campus has grown to include 20 third-year medical students, and will welcome another 20 this summer.

The 2016 School of Medicine commencement ceremony begins at 1 p.m. inside Bartow arena.