Dear Colleagues,

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Welcome to the third Letters to Tinsley.  Thanks to the wonderful team that tells the stories you will read – Amanda Clark, Sam McElwee, Charles Bosshardt, Evan Raff, Monee Amin, Joshua Stripling, Adam Edwards, George Nelson, Starr Steinhilber, Ashley Haddad, Jori May and Carlie Stein.

Exciting things are happening at UAB and in the city of Birmingham, and I am thrilled to tell you some of my favorites. 

On Tuesday December 10
th, 6:00 PM at the UAB Alumni House, I hope you will join us in honoring George Karam (Housestaff, 1977-1980 and Chief Medical Resident 1980-1981) and Craig Coe (Housestaff 1980-1983), who together started the Legacy Fund to support the camaraderie of our residency program.  Dr. Karam will also give the annual “Dr. Alex Litz Memorial Lecture” at Medical Grand Rounds the following day, Wednesday December 11 at noon in Margaret Cameron Spain Auditorium.

vickers olive croppedOn October 15, Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D. became UAB’s Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean of the School of Medicine.  A native of Alabama and most recently the Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota, Vickers brings passion, vision, and accomplishment to his leadership.  A world-renowned surgeon, pancreatic cancer researcher, and pioneer in health disparities research, he is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

By Lisa Willett, M.D.

directorIt’s hard to believe we are almost halfway through another academic year.  I wish to thank the current group of residents and chief medical residents (CMRs) for their time and energy developing this edition of Letters to Tinsley.  We have had a great start this academic year, and I always marvel at our residents’ professional values and dedication to patients. There are so many exciting things going on, it’s difficult for me to decide what to share with you.

We graduated 40 Internal Medicine and Medicine-Pediatric residents this past June.  Their career plans represent diverse interests and expertise.  Sixty-Four percent of graduates are pursuing further training in a fellowship (including a General Medicine fellowship, a Patient Safety fellowship, and Informatics at the NIH).  Of those fellows, we were fortunate to keep half of our grads right here at UAB for the next stages of their training.  Twelve residents are practicing General Medicine, 5 joined primary care practices, 5 are hospitalists, and 2 stayed at UAB in academic General Medicine.  Our program continues to provide rich opportunities for exposures to subspecialty and general medicine, electives in research and patient safety, and opportunities to practice in the community with private practitioners and hospitalists (many of them with you!).  We are tremendously proud of this graduating class and look forward to watching them develop as leaders and healers at UAB, Birmingham, and across the country.

Written by Adam Edwards, M.D.

Legacy dinnerReducedOn July 9, 2013, the UAB Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program held its second annual Legacy Dinner at the home of Dr. C. Glenn Cobbs, former Chief of Medicine for the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Professor Emeritus in the Division of Infectious Diseases.  As with last year’s inaugural Legacy Dinner, three generations of UAB residency graduates spoke about lessons learned from Dr. Harrison, his values, and his mentorship and how those core values and lessons continue to shape our profession and training environment. 

Speakers at this year’s dinner included Dr. Cobbs, Dr. Alexandra Leigh, Chief Medical Resident in 2008 and current practicing palliative care physician; and Dr. Lisa Laycock Willett, Chief Medical Resident in 2000 and current Director of the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program.  

Dr. Michael Saag has some words for Dr. Glenn Cobbs…you won’t want to miss this!.  

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Anne DavisWritten by Anne Davis, M.D. (2001-2004)

"This man needs a doctor, and all he's got is you," said one of my favorite attending physicians, Dr. Glen C. Cobbs.  His wise words still resonate, whenever I am faced with a difficult patient. . . usually the one who's come in to get a quick fix for a cough and congestion when he obviously needs help with far more serious problems.  Hypertension, burgeoning weight, continued smoking and a difficult life situation…this man needs a doctor more than he knows. And for the moment, 'all he's got is me' to try and effect some change.

I practice medicine in my small hometown and it's often a challenge to know just where to begin in trying to effect change:  Which fence post do I work on first - the hypertension, the excess weight, or the difficult life situation?

Again, I recall Dr. Cobbs' wisdom: I was the senior resident on his service and we had just finished a particularly grueling night on call at Cooper Green Hospital.  My fledgling medical students were gamely trying to present the night's catch/cache of patients. But all was getting too complicated and convoluted.  Dr. Cobbs stopped them mid-story, took out a sheet of paper and drew a horizontal line on it.  'Now,' he said, 'tell me the story of the patient from beginning to end.'  The beginning of this time line was the patient's birth; the ending was what brought him to the hospital.  A simple exercise in analytical, sequential thinking- I use it often.  A timeline helps me decide which fence post is first.

We are honored to spend this academic year as chief residents of the UAB Internal Medicine Residency program.  The year began by welcoming an impressive PGY1 class who represent one of the best matches in our program’s history. So far we have enjoyed organizing the program’s social events, which have included Birmingham Barons baseball games, another successful Camp Dismukes, and a “cookout with the chiefs.” One of our current aims is to enhance morning report by instituting conferences that focus on evidence based management of common disease processes. Another ongoing project is working to improve the accessibility to primary care physicians for our patients who are being discharged from the Tinsley Harrison service.

Written by Charles Bosshardt, M.D.
It should be no surprise when walking the halls of UAB’s medical wards if a singing voice emanates from a patient’s room or the nearby nurse’s station. That familiar voice is most likely Dr. Shammah Williams, an endeared third-year medicine resident at UAB. On one occasion, while his patient was succumbing to a terminal illness, Shammah took time that night to sit with the patient and family and provided comfort by singing gospel hymns. Several prior life experiences taught him that true care for a patient goes well beyond medications and procedures.

Shammah was born in Pembroke Parish, Bermuda, where he grew up in a family of eight boys. He was exposed to the medical field at an early age as his mother was a nurse at a local hospital.