Students in the School of Medicine will observe national Primary Care Week Oct. 1-5 with a week filled with student-driven lunch events to increase awareness of primary care needs in Alabama and across the country. Each lunch lecture will take place at noon in Lecture Room E of Volker Hall. Primary Care Week is important because this is the first time most first-year medical students will have exposure to primary care specialties.
Joseph McIlwain, a second-year student, took on the task of organizing Primary Care Week. He shared his reason for wanting to be so closely involved in educating students about primary care: "My love for primary care started when I was in high school. I spent a lot of time with one of the local family physicians and was able to see how much fun he had looking after his patients. After that experience, I made it my goal to return home and practice medicine in the town that helped raise me. My goal for this year was to spread that passion to other students. It is pivotal for the health of our state that we have good doctors on the front lines of healthcare."
Primary care specialties include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics and a combination specialty in medicine and pediatrics. Primary care education and providing an increased primary care workforce for Alabama is a targeted initiative in AMC21, the strategic plan for UAB Medicine. In fact, 60 of Alabama’s 67 counties do not currently have enough primary care physicians. The School of Medicine and its partners have initiated several programs and scholarships aimed at helping fill this need within the state.
The SOM’s programs include the Dean’s Primary Care Scholars Program, the Tuscaloosa-based Rural Medical Scholars Program and the Huntsville-based Rural Medicine Program. There are also several other primary care scholarships that have been gifted on behalf of various alumni and community leaders.
Recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama partnered with the SOM to create a new primary care scholarship program which will help train a total of 60 primary care physicians over five years. Additionally, the SOM has worked closely with the Baptist Health Care Foundation to create scholarship opportunities for students on the Montgomery campus. To donate to the Primary Care Medical Students Scholarship Fund or to the Primary Care general fund, visit here.
Additionally, UAB’s Department of Family and Community Medicine recently named a new chair: Irfan Asif, M.D. He is a primary care physician with a specialization in sports and exercise medicine. Asif has developed a local, national and international reputation for teaching and scholarship.
Primary Week Events:
Monday - English Gonzalez, M.D., from St. Vincent’s East brought two Family Medicine Residents and spoke on the breadth of practice that is available in family medicine.
Tuesday - Cleon Rodgers, M.D., from Christ Health Center talked about his journey from living in Germany to practicing Med-Peds in inner city Birmingham.
Wednesday - Irfan Asif, M.D.; Candice Dye, M.D.; and Hernando Carter, M.D., sat on a panel, and they talked about what drew them to primary care and took questions from the audience.
Thursday- David Bramm, M.D., will speak on his career practicing primary Family Medicine and the joys of primary care.
Friday - Hussein Abdul-Latif, M.D., will speak on pediatric primary care.