The program has implemented a very innovative and unique approach to its family medicine curriculum. We call it the Longitudinal Integrated Curriculum (LIC).
Within the LIC, the majority of the required experiences for family medicine training are spread out over years 1 and 3 instead of being lumped together in traditional block rotations. Educational and expert practice research shows that interspersing and interweaving different components creates more durable mastery. To use an analogy, a batter who sees 30 fast balls then 30 curve balls then 30 sliders will be great at those pitches momentarily. But to be a great batter she’ll need to face real-life pitch mixes. That’s what the LIC does. Also, it allows the resident to experience the the life of a full scope community physician … i.e. our residents will be experts at coordinating inpatient, clinic, and obstetrics into their typical workday. We’re preparing full-scope family docs for underserved communities domestically and internationally, so we take this full-bore family medicine philosophy seriously.
A typical day in the life of a rural track resident includes hospital rounds at Bibb Medical Center in the AM, followed by clinic at 9am, with deliveries interspersed throughout. When on call the resident will also cover the emergency department in the evenings. Additionally, residents will spend half days doing ultrasounds and echocardiograms, endoscopy, working in the specialty clinic on-site, working in our school based health clinics, and much more.
A typical week in the life of an urban track resident includes covering the inpatient service at UAB Medical West in Bessemer in the AM followed by clinic or another LIC component such as ultrasounds and echocardiograms, endoscopy, working in the specialty clinic on-site, working in our school based health clinics, and much more. Additionally on other weeks residents cover our OB service at Princeton Baptist just down the street. When on call, the residents also cover the emergency department at Medical West.
In the second year of training, residents will complete several months of traditional block rotations at our partner sites (see list below) while still maintaining their panel of patients in continuity clinic.
Inpatient Hospitalist, ICU, surgery, emergency medicine (urban only), sports medicine, high risk OB/MFM, and orthopedics at UAB in downtown Birmingham
Inpatient Pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital of Alabama
Rural surgery at Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis, AL (if desired)
Furthermore, each resident has a block EACH YEAR to spend overseas at a site of their choice. This is a critical part of our curriculum in which we help foster a WORLDview in our residents. We hope each graduate will go, send, and support around the world.
More than a residency, we are a community.
We encourage our residents to fully invest in our communities. We strongly value relocation into the communities where our clinics and patients are. As we walk in the footsteps of Jesus and minister in His love together, all the while living in proximity to one another and to our clinics, we lead interwoven lives of such great depth and richness. This is the hallmark and vision of our program.
There is no greater way to understand the social determinants of health impacting our patients than to experience the problems with housing, education, crime, nutrition, transportation, infrastructure, etc. first hand. There is no greater way to seek the health of our communities than to invest our lives in them. As the old exhortation goes, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce … seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
And perhaps the greatest thing about relocating to our patients’ neighborhoods is the relationships we form that change us forever.
Beyond that, we have a robust community health experience that includes:
spending time with local students in their schools teaching on a range of health topics
working in our school based health clinics
spending time with partner organizations working on education, housing, vocational training, etc.
working in our food pantry and clothes closets alongside our social workers
teaching AP biology courses
fundraising for community health projects like our Cahaba River Canoe Launch project.
And so much more ….
We have a vision to see our graduates start new clinics domestically and form new teams internationally that will impact areas with the greatest need.
International Rotations - our residents spend up to one month per year overseas in an area of their choice. For many, this is in preparation to go to those areas (or at least be able to support and send workers in those areas) after residency.
Launch Weeks - each year our residents have a week set aside to take a step back and pray and plan for the post-residency work. Residency is hard, and these weeks are lifelines.
Pioneers, Leaders Sessions - we invite some of our heroes to teach us from their own experiences in pioneering and leading.
MGR - a monthly forum where some of our hero overseas workers spend an evening in a living room with us talking about various aspects of overseas ministry.
Our work is spiritual work.
In our clinics, our hospitals, our communities, and our international rotations we see the effects of pervasive brokenness … broken relationships with God and with one another and with oneself. And yet we are called to pour ourselves out for the hungry and satisfy the desires of the afflicted. In communities that are largely forgotten, we band together to seek transformation and redemption for our patients and OUR communities.
It’s hard work, and it requires being equipped with the tools to minister well. But also, we have to abide in order to bear fruit. So our spiritual health curriculum has the dual aims of effectively addressing our patients' spiritual health needs and also fostering spiritual development within our residency. We work through monthly spiritual health sessions on a wide array of topics. There is a strong spiritual component to our community life. As we walk together as a community, we lovingly work to build one another up.