June 29, 2023

Faculty/Staff Spotlight June 2023

Written by

Kenneth Hurd

What is your role at UAB Heersink School of Medicine?
Instructional Design Specialist in Undergraduate Medical Education. I compile and administer exams, manage grades, and work with the implementation of classroom technology, such as MEDMap and the Audience Response System that students use to answer in-lecture questions.

What brought you to Heersink School of Medicine? What did you do before working here?
I graduated from UAB and have been at UABHSOM since 2008. Before joining UABHSOM, I worked in the Communications Department in their mock TV studio where students majoring in broadcasting were taught the different roles of working in television. After creating a video for the School of Medicine, I was recommended for a similar position as an audiovisual specialist in UABHSOM.

What is your favorite part about working with medical students?
As an Audiovisual Specialist, my role was more behind-the-scenes. Since then, I’ve moved to instructional design and test administration, which allows me to work with students a lot more. I do my best to learn everyone’s name.

What’s the origin of your famous test day phrase: “Alright sports fans, get 'er done”?
This originated with Dr. Caldwell. After he retired, I took over the exam administration and grade management component of his role. My first test administration was the renal final (the last exam of the MS1 year), and a student asked me to do my best impersonation of him, hence the phrase. After a student’s suggestion, I decided to continue with the tradition.

Anything we can look forward to next year?
The renovated second floor of Volker will be opening this fall, and we will be doing some testing in Lister Hill. QAB, which stands for Questions at UAB, will be a new and fun component of Active Learning. Its format is an audience response format where students will be given a question through the Audience Response System. If everyone answers the question correctly, preceptors will move on to the next question. If a question is challenging, then students will work in groups to come up with the correct answer. Then the preceptor will re-poll the class to determine if students have learned the concept or if it needs further review.

Any advice for incoming first years?
Sometimes students aren’t sure who to go to with their questions. Feel free to reach out!

Jennifer Blythe-Tjia

What is your role at UAB Heersink School of Medicine?
I have the pleasure of speaking to future physicians about our professional medical school and the phenomenal medical education they can receive here in Birmingham, AL.  Because I am on the ODI-SA team, I get to spend a lot of time speaking to prospects from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.  Everything I do relates to the mission of Heersink, so my work is intentional and rewarding.

What brought you to Heersink School of Medicine? What experiences did you have prior to working here?
As a trailing spouse, I’ve worked and lived in WA State (my home), UF in Gainesville, FL, TCU/City of Fort Worth, TX, and now UAB.  Coming to ODI-SA was the perfect fit for me to make a difference and still do work that is meaningful and student centered.  I have a passion for those who come from vulnerable, underserved, first gen, and underrepresented populations like me—I need to be an advocate for those who share the same experiences as me; meaning my upbringing is of value, it’s made me who I am today and to have a heart to serve others.

What is your favorite part about working with medical students? 
Our medical students are what makes Heersink SOM so ridiculously off the charts—our professional students rock!  I love having them come through ODI-SA to just chill, say hi, spill the tea about their weekend, etc.  Growing from them and learning to do my job better for their greater good has been a fun journey the past six years.  They are the yin to my yang.

What were you like in high school?
Think big 80s/90s permed hair rockin out to New Edition, and Def Leopard. I am the product of a small rural Title One High School on a Native American Reservation.  My school and town were so small everyone knew everyone, and everything about you—gasp!  I was not scholarly (no surprise there!) but worked multiple jobs during my school years to help pay for things.

Anything we can look forward to in ODI for next year?
Well, your ODI-SA is always going to bring it, but I’m looking forward to the incoming class bringing new ideas, new energy, new allyship to the professional medical school and getting to support the class of 2027 along the way!

Any advice for incoming students?
Know you are here because we believe you should be here, so when things get overwhelming, reach out!  There is an entire united front in Heersink Medical Education who will step up and support each and every one of you in any way we can.  Also, the culinary, brewery, and outdoor scenes, in addition to accessibility around Birmingham all bring the wow factor—enjoy!  “It’s Nice to Have you in Birmingham!” and “See you at the Pig!”

Dr. Shaundra Blakemore

What is/are your role(s) at UAB Heersink School of Medicine?
My roles include: assistant professor in Pediatrics Emergency Medicine, co-director of the Learning Communities program, co-director of a pipeline program called UAB Pediatrics Mini-Medical School, and lead mentor for Harrison Community (the best community!).

What is your favorite part of working with MS1s?
The best aspect for me is witnessing the enthusiasm of incoming medical students, as it serves as a poignant reminder of why I chose the path of medicine. As a mentor, I have the privilege of introducing students to the captivating realm of medicine, a remarkable opportunity to engage with the future physicians at the outset of their journey. This role allows me to guide them in understanding that while medicine may present challenges, it is a rewarding experience. It's also gratifying to help them grasp the fulfillment that comes from positively impacting patients' lives and making a meaningful difference in the world of healthcare.

Anything we can look forward to these coming years for Learning Communities?
One thing we are working on in the coming years would be making Learning Communities smaller so that students can get to know each other better and you get to make closer connections to your physician mentor!

Any advice for incoming MS1s?
My advice to incoming medical students is to embrace learning communities as an invaluable opportunity rather than a requirement. You can use this time to explore complex clinical scenarios that go beyond the confines of black and white scenarios portrayed in multiple-choice questions. Think of your learning community as a supportive family within the medical school, where you have older students to look up to and younger students to guide in the future. Above all, always keep in mind the fundamental reason that led you to embark on this journey in medicine. Strive not only to excel in tests but to acquire the knowledge necessary to save lives. Your end goal should be to develop a profound understanding of medicine and become a competent and compassionate healthcare professional.