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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

OMS-III student Amir Khiabani appointed to NBOME’s Special Commission on Osteopathic Medical Licensure Assessment

Amir Khiabani, Class of 2022, has been appointed to the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiner’s (NBOME) Special Commission on Osteopathic Medical Licensure Assessment. NBOME is recognized both nationally and internationally for its excellence in the areas of osteopathic physician testing and evaluation. This non-for-profit organization works to create numerous assessments that are distinct to osteopathy. In addition, NBOME strives to partner with other organizations on various assessment programs in order to protect the public by providing the ability to assess the competencies for osteopathic medicine and other related health care professions.

The NBOME reached out to National Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) to submit three nominations for a representative to be on this special commission. Khiabani was eligible to be nominated for a seat on this commission due to his senior leadership position as National SOMA Treasurer.

This Special Commission works to review the COMLEX-USA examination program, evaluate defensible alternative pathways for verification or assessment of fundamental clinical skills and other competencies, and assure the COMLEX-USA licensure examination pathway continues to evolve with the rapidly changing practice of osteopathic medicine, osteopathic medical education, and health care. In addition, Khiabani will provide representation of perspectives that reflect that of National SOMA as well as his constituents, osteopathic medical students.

Through his appointment, Khiabani will have the opportunity to help ensure that the perspectives of the osteopathic student body are continuously represented during discussions that can result in impacting their future. He hopes that appointment will equip him with the experience and resources to be an osteopathic physician that will confidently advocate for the profession.

“I believe that the role of a physician includes a tremendous amount of leadership, communication, advocacy and peer interaction,” Khiabani said. “Not only working within SOMA, but now having the ability to advocate for my fellow students directly to the NBOME aids me in fulfilling my mission to become a strong and effective leader and physician.”


OMS-III student Amir Khiabani appointed to NBOME’s Special Commission on Osteopathic Medical Licensure Assessment2021-03-31T15:34:23-05:00

ACOM Breaks Ground on New Simulation Center

Today, the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the college’s new simulation center. The new 10,000-square-foot building will encompass the existing simulation center and will add more than 7,000 square feet to the space.

Simulation is an integral component of ACOM’s curriculum and training. Clinical simulation is crucial to medical education, as it provides a way for students to engage in emergent clinical scenarios requiring medical knowledge, clinical skills, teamwork, and communication, in a controlled setting. It has been shown to increase critical thinking skills and patient safety leading to fewer medical errors.

“Our simulation program is truly incredible,” Carmen Lewis, PhD, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness said. “It offers immersive experiences that are fully integrated throughout our curriculum during the first two years.”

ACOM and the Southeast Health system are committed to utilizing resources from the region to build this center. The college selected Dothanbased architecture firm Donofro and Associates Architects to lead the design, and Construction CGM, Inc. from Colquitt, Ga., as contractor. Bill Jones, Southeast Health Director of Design and Construction, will oversee the project. Through the construction of this new center, ACOM will be able to double the available training capacity by creating eight simulation bays and a larger skills lab, as well as additional study space for students. The project is anticipated to be completed in fall 2021.

The latest expansion on the ACOM campus symbolizes the continued growth of the college and success of its simulation program locally, nationally and internationally. ACOM has won three national simulation championships and one international simulation title since 2017, taking home the latest national Virtual Patient Challenge title at the American Medical Student Association convention on March 6.

“We are proud that this success represents the solid and strong foundation of medical education that all of our students receive,” said James C. Jones, DO, FACEP, ACOM Dean. “This is reinforced through their training in the simulation center.”

About the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM)

The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) is a four-year, comprehensive osteopathic medical school located in Dothan, Alabama. As the academic division of Southeast Health, a regional health system, the private, non-profit college was founded in 2010 to help address the primary care physician shortage in Alabama and the surrounding region. ACOM is the third medical school in Alabama and the first osteopathic medical in the state. The college graduated its first class in 2017, and to date, approximately 61% of its graduates are pursuing future careers in primary care. For more information about ACOM, visit

ACOM Breaks Ground on New Simulation Center2021-03-10T16:23:34-06:00

The SIMps win AMSACon2021 Virtual Patient Challenge

ACOM is proud to announce that The SIMps have won the AMSACon2021 Virtual Patient Challenge! The Virtual Patient Challenge is a unique national clinical competition hosted by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). Student teams must use timely critical thinking skills in order to implement their diagnosis and treatment strategies, during timed virtual patient encounters.

Preliminary rounds of the challenge were held in mid-December with 16-22 teams from various medical schools across the country, including two ACOM teams. Four teams advanced to the championship round, held on March 6th. Both ACOM teams advanced to this final round and competed against two other teams from osteopathic colleges. Each team was given two virtual case scenarios to evaluate. Evaluations were completed after each round, followed by a debrief session with a physician to review and host a live Q&A. In the end, ACOM’s team, The SIMps, edged out the competition to clench its second consecutive title.

In order to make this virtual challenge possible, teams used Body Interact, a real-time medical simulator aimed at developing clinical reasoning and decision-making skills through 3d virtual patients. The simulation allowed the participants to work together as a healthcare team of three to communicate with the virtual patient to conduct assessments, monitor vital signs, order diagnostic exams, perform interventions, and administer medications. The cutting edge experience the students accessed through Body Interact aided in integrating knowledge in the most innovative way.

ACOM is not new to the AMSA Virtual Patient Challenge. During last year’s challenge, ACOM’s team Cotard’s Delutionals won the inaugural title, making this ACOM’s third national title along with the international title received in Paris in 2017. The college is extremely proud of all the students who participated, and extends our deepest congratulations to The SIMps

The SIMps win AMSACon2021 Virtual Patient Challenge2021-03-09T11:55:32-06:00

ACOM hosts first-ever virtual Wiregrass District Science Fair

The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) held the 2021 Wiregrass District Science Fair on February 26, 2021, as a reimagined and unique virtual experience due to COVID-19. Although a virtual science fair was not the ideal format, the College incorporated emerging technology to provide a successful experience for the participants. This year’s event showcased more than 30 elementary and middle school projects from Geneva and Houston counties.

The District Science Fair is an important event that gives students the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in their appropriate level math and science courses. In addition to having the opportunity to showcase their knowledge, the students were able to use this year’s fair to learn the skill of virtually presenting via Zoom. Middle school students, who advance from the local fair, will have the opportunity to participate in the Greater East Alabama Regional Science & Engineering Fair in March. The District Science Fair gave elementary school students the opportunity to learn the process of science fairs and gain experience in oral presentations, with the hope of inspiring them to participate in science fairs throughout middle and high school. This has been a great way for ACOM to support the science and math curriculum in the area and encourage future careers in science and healthcare fields.

Although virtual, the structure of this year’s fair, mirrored closely to that of past fairs without the in-person component. Students displayed their projects just as they would if being judged face-to-face, making their presentations in breakout rooms to ACOM faculty and medical students who were able to ask questions. Each student rose to the occasion and showed eagerness and excitement to showcase their hard work. With every answer and explanation, each student shined during their virtual performance, and their interest in science translated accordingly.

Fair organizer Caleb Hamilton, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences at ACOM, stated, “Obviously, an in-person event would have been the ideal situation due to the essential interpersonal interaction, so we did our best to embody that type of experience as best as possible through Zoom.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, ACOM is thankful to be able to provide this experience in a safe and socially distanced way and is encouraged by the interest to participate across the Wiregrass.

ACOM hosts first-ever virtual Wiregrass District Science Fair2021-02-26T16:09:46-06:00
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