In a UAB career that has spanned almost three decades, Pam Alverson has hit her stride in her position as program director for the Office of Program Review and Monitoring Systems in UAB's Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Alverson worked in the departments of Psychology and Ophthalmology as a research assistant before being hired in the early 1990s as a coordinator in the center — responsible for implementing processes newly required by the National Cancer Institute and helping create and maintain a protocol and patient database. Nearly 30 years later, that position has evolved, and Alverson has evolved with it.
"This is a very demanding job that takes a unique combination of organizational, interpersonal, time-management and problem-solving skills," said Michael Bertram, Ph.D., associate director for administration at the center. "Pam has successfully demonstrated these skills for over 15 years."
Alverson oversees the administrative tasks of the scientific review process for cancer-related clinical trials, including interacting with investigators, working groups and related committees, essentially moving the clinical research protocols through the center's approval process.
According to Elizabeth Busby, director of oncology clinical trials at the center, Alverson provides a "very calm, stabilizing attitude to a sometimes-overwhelming system" and has even been known to plan her vacations around the protocol review committee meetings. Her dedication and "above and beyond" approach to work earned her a place as UAB's Employee of the Month for December.
"This way I do not contribute to a delay in the activation of a trial, and the vacation is more relaxing," Alverson said.
Many of her co-workers echo Alverson's ability to keep a cool, calm demeanor while working in such a stressful job.
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"She is always courteous, conscientious and accommodating," said Desiree Morgan, M.D., program director for Diagnostic Radiology and director of the Center's Human Imaging Shared Facility.
"She has incredible intention to detail working with scores of physicians and scientists performing clinical trials," said center Director Edward Partridge, M.D. "In spite of this challenge — akin to herding not cats, but tigers — I have never once seen her look frustrated or irritated, much less loser her temper. She is simply unbelievable."
Alverson said that the biggest lesson she has learned in her 30 years at UAB is that everyone has a story, she said. "Everyone wants to be heard and respected; each person is important."
For her, this was especially personified one spring, when she dressed as the Easter Bunny for the patients at Children's Hospital. "I still clearly remember looking through the mesh eyes of the costume," Alverson said, "and seeing sick children smile."