Rogers comes to UAB from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where he was professor of surgery and pediatrics. He succeeds Kathleen Nelson, M.D., who retired in June 2012 after 36 years at UAB.
In his role at UAB, Rogers will be responsible for helping faculty physicians and scientists successfully meet their individual professional goals and helping UAB attract and retain the highest-caliber educators, clinicians and researchers.
“My goal for our office is to provide faculty with what they need to know to have a successful academic career. I’ve really enjoyed my academic career; I hope to provide that same joy for UAB faculty,” Rogers says. He points to Nelson as a pioneer in faculty development. “I’ll be taking the work that she’s done and trying to build an effort that supports the faculty.”
“We are very excited to have David Rogers join us at UAB,” says Ray L. Watts, M.D., dean of the UAB School of Medicine and vice president for Medicine at UAB. “In order for UAB to provide the best patient care, conduct world-class research and educate future generations of physicians, we have to support our faculty with what they need to be successful. David will help us do that, from looking out for their health and well-being to providing exceptional professional development. This is key to our becoming the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century.”
Rogers certainly has a deep well of experience from which to draw creative solutions for faculty. After graduating medical school from the University of South Florida, he completed a general surgery residency — including a year of research — at the Medical College of Georgia. He then completed a pediatric surgical oncology fellowship at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and a residency in pediatric surgery at the University of Tennessee.
At first, Rogers says, he pursued a basic science research track but found he was more passionate about patient care and teaching. While he felt his training prepared him well for patient care, he felt unprepared for his teaching and educational leadership roles. That led to a master’s degree in health professions education from the University of Illinois College of Medicine.
Citing himself as an example, he says the interests of faculty evolve with time. “We have to keep them engaged. We need to make sure that the intellectual aspects [of academic medicine] are preserved, such as when we produce original clinical or basic science research. An emerging possibility for intellectual activity for faculty includes medical education research. For example, this might involve designing a program that helps a resident or a student who has been struggling.”
Physicians also struggle with the shifting health-care landscape. “The nature of medicine is changing, and research is changing,” Rogers says. “We need to make sure we recruit and retain outstanding faculty. We’ll also have to think about how to equip faculty in that changing environment so that they all flourish, not just survive.”
He points to UAB’s being part of a large, rich university environment as an asset for informing ways to help faculty broaden their development. Rogers will co-direct the UAB Healthcare Leadership Academy with Grant Savage, Ph.D., professor of management in the UAB School of Business. He will continue to look for opportunities to collaborate within the School of Medicine and across campus.
In preparation for his move to Birmingham, Rogers, whose grandfather was born in Albertville, read “Alabama, the History of a Deep South State.” A lesson he gleaned for today, he says, is that “there are challenges in every period. You have to understand the present challenges and be optimistic and creative.”
About academic medicine, Rogers says, “It really still is a wonderful thing to get to do.”
Rogers is married to Laura Rogers, M.D., MPH, an internist with a National Institutes of Health- funded program of research focused on exercise in oncology patients; she will be joining the faculty in UAB’s Department of Nutrition Sciences in the School of Health Professions. They have two sons, Andrew, 19, who attends DePaul University and Charles, 21, who attends the Savannah College of Art and Design.