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Rural Doctors Need Added Skills

Family medicine and other primary-care physicians seeking to practice in rural communities often need additional specialty skills to care for their patients. Specifically, rural physicians frequently serve as team physicians for high school and community sports programs.

To help future rural physicians meet this demand, The University of Alabama College of Community Sciences created a Sports Medicine Fellowship for Family Physicians nearly a decade ago. The fellowship has since impacted community sports programs throughout Alabama and the Southeast region as fellows graduate and establish their practices.

The year-long fellowship is designed for physicians who have completed a family medicine residency. During the year, fellows work with local high school athletes, as well as UA athletic team physicians, coaches, trainers and athletes, including at UA sporting events.

Sports medicine fellows also care for patients at the college’s Dr. Bill deShazo Sports Medicine Center, housed within University Medical Center. The center is named in honor of the late Dr. William F. deShazo, a longtime college faculty member who introduced a sports medicine rotation into the curriculum. deShazo also chaired the college’s Department of Family Medicine and directed its Family Medicine Residency, and he served as the team physician from the UA Athletic Department as well asa personal physician to former UA head football Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Today, Dr. James Robinson directs the College’s sports medicine fellowship and the Dr. Bill deShazo Sports Medicine Center, and he is the College’s first Endowed Chair of Sports Medicine for Family Physicians. Like deShazo before him, Robinson, a family and sports medicine physician, also serves as head team physician for UA and has served as team physician for many Tuscaloosa and area high schools for over three decades.

Robinson is passionate about his work and said his goal is for the sports medicine program at CCHS “to attract the best fellows and produce the best sports medicine physicians in the country.”

To that end, the college seeks to create an endowed faculty physician position in sports medicine, as well as a Sports Medicine Research and Education Endowed Support fund.

An endowed faculty physician position will further elevate the success of CCHS in producing primary-care physicians well equipped to step into the role of team physician in the communities where they will one day practice. Such a position can also enable the launch of bold ideas and innovative research with the potential to profoundly impact the health of Alabama. With the support an endowed chair offers, faculty can spend more time teaching and training students and residents and conducting strong research programs vital to the college and to general health within our communities. Endowed professorships also help recruit and retain top-tier faculty.

Creation of a Sports Medicine Research and Education Endowed Support fund will allow the College to purchase new equipment needed to train medical students, resident physicians and fellows in sports medicine practice and cover costs associated with attending national conferences, which are often cost prohibitive for resident physicians.


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