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ACOM back in session

Like other schools across the Wiregrass, ACOM is back in session, recently welcoming back second-year students and greeting the new class of 2024. The college developed a robust academic reopening plan to deliver curriculum with enhanced measures to promote the overall health and safety of students, faculty and staff. All students were required to self-isolate for the first 14 days of the new academic year and were tested for COVID-19. ACOM employs screening protocols and temperature checks upon entry into the facility. Hand-sanitizer stations are placed throughout the campus and appropriate signage is posted to promote social distancing, handwashing and proper mask wearing.

ACOM also made several curriculum delivery changes to limit the number of students on campus at any time. Lectures are currently being conducted virtually, with students having the opportunity to reserve a seat in the auditorium or study rooms. Lab sessions have been divided into smaller groups allowing for greater social distancing, and faculty and students are equipped with masks during all lab events. Currently, all ACOM-sponsored international travel and school-sponsored domestic travel has been canceled, and all class of 2025 applicant interviews are taking place via Zoom. The college hopes to transition to more in-person teaching experiences as soon as safely possible.

ACOM back in session2020-10-05T02:11:19-05:00

Alston named Interim Associate Dean of Clinical Sciences for ACOM

The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) is pleased to announce that Sebastian Alston, MD, has been named interim associate dean of clinical sciences, effective August 15. Dr. Alston joined ACOM in February 2013 as professor of pathology and he will serve in the interim role while a national search for permanent associate dean is conducted.

“Dr. Alston has been an instrumental part of ACOM’s success through his course leadership, teaching, mentorship and service on numerous committees and as a faculty advisor,” James C. Jones, DO, FACEP, ACOM Dean, said. “He demonstrates a steadfast commitment to leadership and medical education, both important cornerstones of our college, and we are appreciative of his willingness to serve in this interim role.”

Dr. Alston is a native of Henderson, N.C., and received his Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned his medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Dr. Alston completed a residency in anatomic pathology and neuropathology and a fellowship in cerebrovascular diseases at Duke University Medical Center.

Dr. Alston has been on faculty at University of Virginia School of Medicine, Mercer University School of Medicine, and Florida State University College of Medicine. His previous administrative appointments have included director of Biomedical Problems Curriculum and assistant dean of Medical Education at Mercer, and associate dean of Medical Education and director of the Office of Medical Education at Florida State. Other activities have included serving as a local medical examiner in North Carolina and Virginia, medical consultant for Social Security Disability in Florida and Georgia, and visiting faculty at Tulane University School of Medicine and St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada.

Dr. Alston is a past officer and current member of the Group for Research in Pathology Education and a committee member of the Association of Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), Best Evidence in Medical Education (BEME).

Heath Parker, DO, will serve as associate dean of clinical sciences until August 14, at which time he will transition into a part-time faculty role as associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics. Dr. Parker will continue to serve as chair of pediatrics.

Alston named Interim Associate Dean of Clinical Sciences for ACOM2020-10-05T15:57:05-05:00

Audrey Vasauskas, PhD, Named ACOM Director of Research and Grant Development

The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) is pleased to announce that Audrey Vasauskas, PhD, has been named Director of Research and Grant Development.

Dr. Vasauskas brings more than 20 years of experience in research, grants and higher education to the position. Most recently, she served as associate professor of physiology at ACOM, where she also served as Research Committee chair and principal investigator.

As Director of Research and Grant Development, Dr. Vasauskas will coordinate and provide support for the growth of research at ACOM, oversee research program strategy development, and actively work to identify grant opportunities. This includes coordinating submission of proposals to federal, state, industry and non-profit sponsors to support individual, collaborative and major interdisciplinary research activities.

Dr. Vasauskas received her PhD and post-doctoral training from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in biology from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Maryland. Dr. Vasauskas has been the recipient of several extramural research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. She has also served as a science policy and research advocate to the United States Congress. Dr. Vasauskas has been teaching cell and system physiology for over a decade and has mentored many undergraduate, graduate and medical students both in academia and industry. Prior to her career in academia, she spent several years in the biotechnology industry as project leader for oncology diagnostic development.

“I am sincerely thrilled to take on this new role within ACOM, where I can help grow our research program(s) from an already strong foundation,” Dr. Vasauskas said. “We have the ingredients to nurture a thriving, collaborative research culture; our students, faculty, and staff are incredible. For me, being able to combine my research and grant experience with my passion for helping students and faculty achieve their research goals is truly a dream come true.”

Audrey Vasauskas, PhD, Named ACOM Director of Research and Grant Development2020-10-02T03:05:24-05:00

ACOM Adopts Southeast Health Branding

To demonstrate the relationship between the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) and Southeast Health, the medical college will adopt the health system brand, while preserving the existing shield for ceremonial purposes.

In July of 2018, the Houston County Health Care Authority, the governing board for Southeast Health, made a strategic decision to invest in a branding strategy connecting all the entities within the health system through a structured naming convention and brand standard. This helps patients, providers, students, and the community better understand who they are, what they offer, and where they provide services.

Beginning in July, ACOM will follow suit with the other major entities in the health system by adopting the Southeast Health branding, though the ACOM Board of Directors opted to continue to use the existing shield in certain ceremonial circumstances. Additionally, student white coats will continue to incorporate the shield to honor the past.

ACOM’s origins are deeply rooted in health care. It was one of the first osteopathic medical schools developed by a health system not associated with a university. Over a decade ago, the Alabama Medical Education Consortium along with the Houston County Health Care Authority recognized the growing shortage of physicians nationally, particularly in primary care. The two entities determined it was feasible to develop Alabama’s first college of osteopathic medicine to address these needs in the state, and thus, ACOM, the private, non-profit institution, was established in May 2010. The college, which is owned by Southeast Health, welcomed its inaugural class in 2013, and graduated its first physicians in 2017.

“Through the creation of the ACOM and the expansion of Graduate Medical Education programs, Southeast Health has grown from a community hospital to a comprehensive health system with a focus on educating tomorrow’s physicians. ACOM is one of the major entities within the health system, and we feel this change helps communicate the relationship more clearly and highlight the health system’s commitment to education.” says James C. Jones, DO, FACEP, ACOM Dean.

ACOM will adopt the Southeast Health brand beginning in July of 2020.

ACOM Adopts Southeast Health Branding2020-10-05T16:07:48-05:00

ACOM SAACOFP chapter awarded Humanitarian Award

At the virtual conference for the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (ACOFP) in March, the ACOM student chapter, Student Association of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (SAACOFP), was awarded the Humanitarian Award for participating in more volunteer hours than any other student chapter across the nation.

ACOM’s SAACOFP chapter offers volunteer opportunities to its members at the Samaritan Clinic on Thursdays, the Spanish-speaking Samaritan Clinic once a month, and the Samaritan Pantry the first 3 Saturdays of the month. The Samaritan Clinic is a free health, eye and dental clinic for the medically underserved in Dothan and Houston County, while Samaritan Pantry works to provide clothes, hygienic supplies, food and toiletries to the homeless community of Dothan.

We are extremely proud of our SAACOFP chapter here at ACOM by taking the time to positively impact the greater Dothan community. As future family physicians, it is important that we emphasize our role as community leaders and volunteers, as it will only further our mission of community outreach and improving the overall health and wellness of the communities we serve.

ACOM SAACOFP chapter awarded Humanitarian Award2020-10-02T14:26:32-05:00

ACOM students win second place at research competition

OMS-III student Kasey Chelemedos and OMS-II student Audrey Gunn received second place in the research competition at the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) Regional Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico on February 8. Their research focused on maternal adverse childhood experiences and their effect on her offspring. It concluded that adverse childhood experiences affect not only those who directly experience them, but also future generations. Their goal is to advocate for improved screening for these experiences in all fields of medicine and earliest possible intervention and support to combat the associated negative physical and mental health outcomes.

ACOM students win second place at research competition2020-10-05T02:18:50-05:00

Southeast Health ACOM Ashford Clinic ribbon cutting ceremony

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Southeast Health ACOM Ashford Clinic facility was held yesterday.

The new clinic space, which opened in early January will help increase access to health care for citizens and focus on the education of ACOM students within a nurturing, patient-centered environment. The new facility is adjacent to the former clinic building, which is now being utilized as an education center for medical students. Clinic services include internal medicine, pediatrics and osteopathic manipulative medicine.

Southeast Health and ACOM, in partnership with Ashford leaders, recognized the need to increase health care options in the rural community and identified an opportunity to expand the health care coverage in the area.

The Southeast Health ACOM Ashford Clinic will further highlight the great opportunities for medical education in the Wiregrass and foster a greater understanding of the patients this area serves.

Special thanks to the Southeast Health Medical Group, Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Ashford for making this day a success.

The clinic is located at 415 Midland Street Ashford, AL 36312. For an appointment, stop by the clinic or call 855.SE.CARES.

Southeast Health ACOM Ashford Clinic ribbon cutting ceremony2020-10-05T15:58:13-05:00

Dr. Hovey named Medical Director of Ashford Clinic

DOTHAN, Ala. – Southeast Health and the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) are pleased to announce that Justin G. Hovey, MD, internal medicine and pediatrics, has been named medical director of their Ashford clinic.

The Southeast Health ACOM Ashford Clinic will be managed by the Southeast Health Medical Group with clinical support provided through the medical college. Dr. Hovey will be joined in the clinic by Robin S. Fischer, MSN, MEd, NP-C, as nurse practitioner. The clinic also allows third-year ACOM medical students a hands-on patient experience in a rural clinic setting, with opportunities for first- and second-year student experiences in the future.

Dr. Hovey, board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, has been practicing in the Wiregrass for more than nine years. The Slocomb native has also been a clinical faculty preceptor for ACOM for more than five years where he has also served as a guest lecturer.

Dr. Hovey completed his residency and internship in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of South Alabama Hospital Systems in Mobile. He earned his medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biological Science and Microbiology from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Dr. Hovey is married to Danielle, and has one daughter, Mary Zetta. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, watching rugby and football, and grilling.

Dr. Hovey named Medical Director of Ashford Clinic2020-10-05T01:59:38-05:00

New Paved Pedestrian Trail Opens on East Highway 84

DOTHAN, Ala. – May 9, 2019 – Today, representatives from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM), City of Dothan and Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for the new paved pedestrian trail along east Highway 84. The trail, which connects the ACOM campus to the Ross Clark Circle, marks a significant milestone in the future development of the East 84 corridor.

“It’s one thing to envision what things can look like and be like. It’s another thing to bring them to fruition. It’s a great day to see part of a plan that is bringing and connecting downtown Dothan to 84 East. This is just one small piece of our whole plan,” said Mayor Mark Saliba.

Area leaders have been evaluating ways to enhance the east Highway 84 corridor for several years. Discussions to create a paved trail on the east side of Dothan began in 2016, with the goal of creating a designated walkway and biking path for residents. Dr. Craig Lenz, ACOM Dean, was instrumental in these discussions, as he underscored the need for a safer and healthier transportation alternative for medical students and others along the highway.

“The creation of this trail promotes the importance of wellness,” said Dr. Lenz. “There are so many cities that have grown up around traffic and people getting in cars rather than walking and biking to their destinations. That is something we have tried to instill in our medical community is the sense of wellness and how people can enjoy life more by being outside.”

In 2018, the City of Dothan secured a Transportation Alternatives Program grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation and provided matching funds to develop a shared pedestrian and biking trail along East Highway 84. The City of Dothan partnered with engineering firm Poly, Inc. to oversee the project and MidSouth Paving as contractor. Construction on the paved trail began in mid-2018 and was completed this spring. The trail starts near the ACOM campus on Cat Way and continues along Highway 84 toward the Ross Clark Circle. The opening of this trail demonstrates Dothan’s continued commitment to health and wellness initiatives across the area.

New Paved Pedestrian Trail Opens on East Highway 842020-10-05T02:01:19-05:00

ACOM to open new rural health primary care clinic in Ashford

DOTHAN, Ala. – February 6, 2019 – The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) plans to open a new rural health primary care clinic in Ashford, Ala., within the year. The new clinic, which will be located approximately seven miles from the campus and adjacent to the existing Southeast Health FirstMed facility, will help increase access to primary care for citizens and would focus on education of ACOM students within a nurturing, patient-centered environment. Under the umbrella of Southeast Health, the existing FirstMed clinic will remain open, seeing patients and providing uninterrupted health care services, until the transition to ACOM can be successfully completed.

ACOM, the academic division of Southeast Health, has been working with the City of Ashford for several months to formalize a plan to open the new clinic. The college, in partnership with Ashford leaders, recognized the need to increase health care options in the rural community and identified an opportunity to expand the health care coverage provided by an existing Southeast Health family practice clinic. On Monday, the Ashford City Council voted unanimously to provide an additional plot of land to the college, paving the way to build a separate, brand-new, 4,000-square-foot facility. This new clinic will be state-of-the-art, providing increased capacity and access to care for patients.

“This clinic will be a win-win for everyone – for Ashford, for ACOM and for Southeast Health,” said Craig J. Lenz, Sr., DO, Dean of ACOM. “We are grateful to the City of Ashford for their support of this project that will provide increased patient care to the community and exciting training opportunities for our medical students.”

The new clinic will serve as an ideal environment to include first- and second-year ACOM students in patient care in a real-world setting, prior to entering their clinical rotations during the third and fourth years of medical school. Lenz says that this experience will further highlight the great opportunities for medical education in the Wiregrass and foster a greater understanding of the patients this area serves.

ACOM to open new rural health primary care clinic in Ashford2020-10-05T02:02:58-05:00
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