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Jacobs Selected as 2021-2022 AMA Health Systems Science Scholar

Greg Jacobs, DO, DTM&H, CTropMed, FACEP, FAAEM, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM), has been selected by the American Medical Association (AMA) as a 2021-2022 Health Systems Science Scholar. Health Systems Science is the study of how health care is delivered, how health care professionals work together to provide that care, and how the health system can improve patient care and health care delivery.

The Health Science Scholars program, an initiative of the AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium, is a development and mentorship program that equips select faculty from across the nation with the tools and skills to design, implement and evaluate health systems science curricula at their institutions. The program strives to improve healthcare by addressing gaps in undergraduate and graduate medical education through faculty training to enhance and innovate curricula. As part of the year-long scholars program, Dr. Jacobs will participate in educational workshops and training experiences, as well as collaborate with fellow medical education scholars. He is one of four DO faculty chosen nationwide, and ACOM is the only Alabama medical school to participate in this year’s scholars’ program.

Dr. Jacobs is a board-certified emergency physician with 20 years of clinical experience. He recently completed fellowship training in global health and is currently pursuing Master of Science degrees in health care quality and safety and health care administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Jacobs contributes to clinical education across the ACOM curriculum, including teaching in the simulation program, Foundations in Modern Healthcare course, and international medicine.

“It is my hope this Health Systems Science Scholars program will help expose future physicians to the leadership needs and opportunities that will impact health care delivery in rural Alabama and beyond,” Dr. Jacobs said.

Jacobs Selected as 2021-2022 AMA Health Systems Science Scholar2022-01-05T09:13:38-06:00

ACOM Team Defeats Portugal to Win International Virtual Patient Challenge

A team of second-year students from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) won the International Virtual Patient Challenge hosted by Body Interact on December 11, 2021.

The Virtual Patient Challenge is a competition in which student teams are presented with emergent clinical scenarios that require medical knowledge, clinical skills, teamwork and communication to save the simulated virtual patient. The ACOM team previously won the National Virtual Patient Challenge on March 2, hosted by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). Nine teams from seven countries competed in the international event representing Bosnia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, India, Portugal, Russia and the US.

The nine teams, each composed of three active participants, from across the globe competed in the same two cases simultaneously, with the winners of each competition advancing. ACOM students went head-to-head against Portugal in the international finals on Saturday, where they clenched the victory and secured the title of World Champions. In the final round, the ACOM team was presented with a complex case requiring a high sense of urgency, in which a patient had multiple trauma injuries, including a ruptured spleen and pelvic fracture.

ACOM’s Simulation Curriculum Coordinator, Dianne Walker, spent extensive time with the team to prepare them for the competition.

“A major emphasis that we bring to every simulated encounter here at ACOM is the importance of critical thinking and clinical reasoning to derive at the correct clinical diagnosis and treatment of the patient leading to a successful outcome in ensuring patient safety,” Walker said. “I have never felt so proud of these three students as they represented the United States. It was very emotional and at times gut wrenching as they worked through some very touch cases calmly and professionally.”

John T. Giannini Jr., MD, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of Simulation at ACOM, trained this group of students in weekly sessions leading up to the International Virtual Patient Challenge. Since winning the national competition in the spring, this ACOM team has continued training to strengthen their skills, communication and teamwork. The intense preparation helped ensure that the ACOM team could use their dynamic teamwork structure to excel in the competition.

“The SIMps have been working together over the past few months preparing for this competition and have really transformed into a wonderful healthcare team,” Giannini said. “They work well together – listening and respecting each other’s opinions and insights to caring/treating the patient. They stayed calm in a very high risk, emergent medical situation along with the expected pressures to perform well amongst their competitors around the world and representing ACOM at their best!”

The SIMps team includes Will Laidig, Arianne Serrano, Brian Lewis, Elizabeth Vandervort and Conor Willis.

ACOM Team Defeats Portugal to Win International Virtual Patient Challenge2021-12-17T13:31:36-06:00

Garg Named ACOM Director of Evaluation and Outcomes Assessment

Rahul Garg, PhD, MPharm, has been named Director of Evaluation and Outcomes Assessment for the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM). In this role, Dr. Garg will improve and coordinate comprehensive evaluation of educational programs and student assessment. In addition, he will develop and implement a curriculum mapping structure alongside the subcommittee on assessment, evaluation and implementation.

Dr. Garg earned his Doctorate (PhD) from West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV, in health services and outcomes research. He completed his Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) in pharmaceutics at Banaras Hindu University, India, and his Bachelor of Pharmacy at Delhi University, India. Prior to arriving at ACOM, Dr. Garg served as Director of Assessment at Chicago State University (CSU), College of Pharmacy, where he implemented and coordinated college-wide assessment activities, as well as ensured compliance with accreditation standards. He was previously tenured track Assistant Professor of Pharmacy at CSU College of Pharmacy. Dr. Garg also served as Research Fellow for Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (2017) and for the National Sleep Foundation (2018).

Dr. Garg’s research interests include risk factors, prevention and treatment of opioid abuse and overdose, sleep quality in young adults, professionalism and academic success among pharmacy students, and healthcare students’ participation in administration of COVID vaccinations. He is a member of the American Association of College of Pharmacy and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Garg Named ACOM Director of Evaluation and Outcomes Assessment2021-12-10T16:19:28-06:00

ACOM and the Society of Hospital Medicine’s Wiregrass Chapter host Poster Day

The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Society of Hospital Medicine’s Wiregrass Chapter jointly hosted the sixth annual Poster Day from November 18-23, 2021. Like last year, this event was held virtually due to COVID-19 and gave participants the opportunity to post their research posters through Twitter. Through the expansive Twitter network, poster presenters received national attention for their research, with over 500,000 views on the social media platform.

Categories included Clinical Research & Quality Improvement, Basic Science Research, Clinical Vignette, Population Health, Medical Education Research, Community Outreach, and Narrative Research. In addition to the poster presentations, the event featured a virtual talk by Cooper Brookshire, DVM, MS entitled, “People, Pets, and One Health: A Veterinarian’s Perspective.” One Health is a collaborative, transdisciplinary approach to achieve optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. Other speakers included student research talks by Danielle M. Glinka, MS, OMS-II, entitled “Atopic Dermatitis: Could a Toxin be the Treatment?”; Leah Grcevich, OMS-IV, entitled “Diverticular Abscess Management in a Patient with Concurrent Uterine Leiomyomas Highlights Surgical Cooperativity”; Roshny Vijayakar, OMS-IV, entitled “Does Size Matter? Obesity and COVID-19 in a Community Hospital”; Adam Thomas, OMS-III, entitled “Improving Upon Osteopathic Palpatory Skills using a 3D Printed Rotational Lumbar Spine Model”; Madalyn Acker, OMS-II, entitled “Optimizing Guideline Directed Medical Therapy for Patients with Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction in South Alabama: A Quality Improvement Project”; and Elizabeth Clark Lanier, OMS-II, entitled “Identifying and Engaging Community Needs in Ashford, AL”.

We are excited to announce the following ACOM Student Poster Day winners:

Basic Sciences:

Winner: Lost in Translation: Silencing eLF4E influences Progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis – Authors: Deniz Bozdag, OMS-II; Gherardo Baudo; Matteo Massaro; Haoran Liu, PhD; Hyunho Lee, PhD; Elvin Blanco, PhD.

Clinical Research or Quality Improvement:

Winner: Optimizing gDMT for patients with heart failure with reduced EF in South Alabama – Authors: Madalyn Acker, MS, OMS-II; Veronica Hill, DNP, CRNP.

Clinical Vignette:

Winner: When Scabies Isn’t Scabies: an Abnormal Presentation of IgA Vasculitis – Authors: Bailee Keefe, OMS-I; Katherine Whalen, OMS-I; Ariail Schmitz, DO.


Winner: Identifying and engaging community needs in Ashford, AL – Authors: Elizabeth Lanier, OMS-II; Lisa Ennis, MA, MS, MPH.

Population Health:

Winner: Does Size Matter? Obesity and COVID-19 in a Community Hospital – Authors: Arianna Lanpher, OMS-IV; Benjamin Duong, MPH, OMS-IV; Roshny Vijayakar, OMS-IV; Raul Magadia, MD.


*Italicized entries reflect ACOM student winners.

ACOM and the Society of Hospital Medicine’s Wiregrass Chapter host Poster Day2021-12-10T16:11:54-06:00

Lyons Named ACOM Associate Dean of Medical Education

James Lyons, MD, has been named Associate Dean of Medical Education for the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM). In this role, Dr. Lyons will work closely with the Curriculum Committee and institutional divisions to ensure content, format, and evaluation methods of the curriculum meet standards for accreditation as well as collaborate with faculty to support teaching and educational innovation. The Associate Dean of Medical Education position is a new role allowing the college to continue enhancing its strategic plan priority of academic excellence and explore new opportunities for advancement.

Dr. Lyons obtained his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University and his medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine. He is board certified in family medicine, anatomic and clinical pathology, and dermatopathology. Dr. Lyons received the Hoyt Vandenberg award for the top officer academically in his commissioned officer class while on active duty with the U.S. Air Force at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. During his pathology residency, he received the Frances K. Patterson resident award.

Dr. Lyons has worked in academia, specifically medical education, for more than a decade. He most recently has served as Professor of Pathology and Family Medicine at ACOM and will continue in his teaching role as an integral part of this new position. Prior to joining ACOM, Dr. Lyons served as a medical director of a hospital laboratory and as a clinical assistant professor at an Illinois school of medicine.

Lyons Named ACOM Associate Dean of Medical Education2021-11-19T10:16:39-06:00

Walkowski Named ACOM Associate Dean of Clinical Sciences

Stevan Walkowski, DO, has been named Associate Dean of Clinical Sciences for the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM). In this role, Dr. Walkowski will oversee clinical curriculum, including collaboration with the clerkship chairs, course directors and the Curriculum Committee.

Dr. Walkowski earned his DO degree from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is board-certified in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM). Prior to arriving at ACOM, Dr. Walkowski served as Chair for OMM at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Dublin campus in Dublin, Ohio, and Director of Osteopathic Integration for the university’s campuses. He was also the Director of the OMM Primary Care Associate program for undergraduate fellows.

Dr. Walkowski has participated in grant-funded research focused on osteopathic manipulative treatment for more than a decade, including as Medical Director for two National Institutes of Health grants. He is a member of the American Osteopathic Association and American Academy of Osteopathy, as well as fellow of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.

Walkowski Named ACOM Associate Dean of Clinical Sciences2021-10-22T16:13:19-05:00

Baker Named ACOM Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education

Wil E. Baker, PhD, EdD, has been named Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education (GME) for the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM). In this new position, Dr. Baker will lead the development of residency programs throughout Alabama to create additional training opportunities for graduates in the state.

Dr. Baker’s time with the College precedes its existence. His initial vision of a “medical school without walls” later evolved into ACOM as it is known today. Through his role with the Alabama Medical Education Consortium, Dr. Baker developed an extensive network of physicians and healthcare locations that now provides clinical training experiences for ACOM students. He has fostered relationships and promoted a greater understanding of the healthcare needs in Alabama. Dr. Baker’s commitment continues as he transitions his focus to creating new residency programs to further fulfill the College’s mission.

Dr. Baker received his EdD in Research and Psychology from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 1973. He also holds an Educational Specialist degree from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (1971), a Master of Science from the University of Southern Mississippi (1967), a Master of Theology from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (1967), and a Bachelor of Arts from Howard College (now Samford University) (1956). Dr. Baker served in the United States Marine Corps, active duty, for almost five years as an aviator and continued his service in the Marine Reserves, Air National Guard, and Army National Guard as a pilot (retired, 1994).

Dr. Baker served in the Department of Family Practice at the University of South Alabama, College of Medicine from 1975-1996 as an assistant, associate, and full professor of Behavioral Medicine. During that tenure he also served as assistant to the Vice President of Medical Affairs, and Assistant Dean for Continuing Medical Education. Following retirement from the University of South Alabama, Dr. Baker served as the Project Director for the Alabama Southern Rural Access Program from 1999-2005.

Dr. Baker previously served as Associate Dean of Clinical Resources at ACOM. In addition to his new role at the college, he currently serves as the Executive Director for the Alabama Medical Education Consortium (AMEC).

Baker Named ACOM Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education2021-10-15T15:05:12-05:00

Thacker Named ACOM Associate Dean of Clinical Resources

Richard R. Thacker, DO, MACOI, has been named Associate Dean of Clinical Resources for the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM). In this role, Dr. Thacker will oversee third- and fourth-year clinical training through ACOM’s expansive network of hospitals, clinics and preceptors.

Dr. Thacker has been involved with ACOM since the college opened in 2013, as Medical Education Director for the Tallahassee clinical training site. In 2018, he accepted a position as Assistant Dean of Clinical Sciences and Clinical Resources through which he has been instrumental in the oversight and development of the robust clinical network throughout Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.  In his role as Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Dr. Thacker assists with teaching primary clinical skills, gastroenterology, hospice-related subjects, international health, and osteopathic principles and practice.

Dr. Thacker received his DO degree from Nova Southeastern University in 1992. He completed his osteopathic residency at Delaware Valley Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, where he served as chief intern and chief medical resident, as well as receiving recognition for Resident of the Year. Upon completion of post-doctoral training, Dr. Thacker began his career as a National Health Service Corp Scholar in Madison, Fla., at a community health center. He then went on to practice internal medicine at Capital Regional Medical Group in Tallahassee for 23 years. Dr. Thacker is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative care.

At the state level, Dr. Thacker has served in multiple capacities within the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association (FOMA) since 1988, including President in 2006-2007. In 2008, he was honored as FOMA’s “Physician of the Year”.  He continues to remain active with the Board of Trustees and both the Legislative and Finance committees. On a national level, Dr. Thacker is a member of the AOA Board of Trustees, where he has served on and chaired several committees, including Vice Chair of the Department of Education. Currently, he is a three-year member of the Executive committee, Chairman of Governmental Affairs and functions as the Treasurer for the Osteopathic Political Action Committee (OPAC).  He was most recently recognized as a Master Fellow by the American College of Osteopathic Internists for his contributions to the profession.

Thacker Named ACOM Associate Dean of Clinical Resources2021-10-15T14:58:23-05:00

Thomas named Southeast Health and ACOM director of Compliance

Southeast Health Medical Center and the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) are pleased to welcome Eugenia (Genie) Stark Thomas, J.D., CHC, as director of Compliance for both entities.

Genie most recently served as director of Compliance and Privacy at Ochsner LSU (Louisiana State University) Health Shreveport in Shreveport, Louisiana. She was responsible for oversight and implementation of all aspects of compliance programs at the 444-bed academic medical center and the 112-bed women’s and children hospital, as well as the faculty medical group and area clinics. Prior to that, she operated her own law firm and consulting practice in Jackson, Mississippi, where she advised hospitals and physician practices on a wide variety of regulatory compliance matters.  She also served as an adjunct professor at the Mississippi College of Law in Jackson, Mississippi, where she taught in the health law program.

Genie received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia.  She is licensed to practice law in the State of Mississippi.  Genie also maintains current certification in healthcare compliance (CHC).

Thomas named Southeast Health and ACOM director of Compliance2021-09-08T15:33:01-05:00

ACOM Faculty Awarded Grant from American Medical Association

A team of faculty from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) was awarded a grant this summer from the American Medical Association (AMA) to enhance medical student training through the association’s new “Student BP Measurement Essentials” online modules. The modules focus on key aspects of blood pressure measurement and are designed to be integrated throughout the medical school curriculum to improve training. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a contributing risk factor for heart disease and stroke, underscoring the need for enhanced training in proper blood pressure measurement to ensure proper treatment. ACOM was one of five medical schools nationwide and the only osteopathic college to receive the grant.

ACOM is implementing the blood pressure training modules during the first-year Primary Clinical Skills course, in second-year fall semester systems courses and during the third-year ACOM Ashford Clinic rotation. The team plans to utilize the grant to purchase equipment to help assess the student’s learning of the modules by determining how accurately they are able to measure blood pressures on simulated models in the classroom setting and real patients in clinic.

The faculty team includes: Lauren Clemmons, DO, Principal Investigator; Ronda F. Carter, MD; James Lyons, MD; Mark Hernandez, PhD; Audrey Vasauskas, PhD; and Veronica Hill, MSN, NP-C. 

“Accurate measurement of patients’ blood pressure is the first step in making sure that hypertension is recognized and treated appropriately,” Dr. Clemmons explained. “The grant will allow us to use innovative methods to assess our students’ learning of this foundational skill.”

Additional information about this grant is available here.

ACOM Faculty Awarded Grant from American Medical Association2021-08-23T16:16:22-05:00
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