A message from Dr. Richard Friend, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences

June 22, 2020

At University Medical Center, our focus is to keep our patients healthy – to proactively manage chronic conditions and to try and prevent serious illness. Still, there are times when our patients need more than outpatient care.

For that reason, we have a team of doctors who practice at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa and who care for UMC patients in the hospital, from the time they are admitted to the time they are discharged. These physicians are known as hospitalists.

Traditionally, much of this hospital care was provided by patients’ primary-care physicians as they made rounds at hospitals before their offices opened, and again after they closed. But as demands on their office time increased, so, too, did the demand for doctors to practice exclusively in the hospital.

Today, our University Hospitalist Group is comprised of 23 physicians who care for UMC and other patients hospitalized at DCH. Last year, these doctors provided more than 50,000 patient-care visits.

University Hospitalist Group physicians are employed by UMC, and I believe that provides additional benefits for our patients. For UMC patients who are hospitalized at DCH, our hospitalists have immediate access to their medical records and history, as well as to their UMC physicians, allowing for collaboration on both hospital and follow-up care. Because they are at the hospital all day, hospitalists can quickly answer patients’ questions, follow up on test results and meet with family members to address concerns.

Research suggests that hospitalists can reduce patients’ length-of-stay in the hospital as well as readmittance rates, and that there is greater satisfaction among hospitalized patients who are cared for by hospitalists.

The College of Community Health Sciences, which operates UMC, also provides education and training in the practice of hospital medicine for family medicine physicians. Our yearlong University Hospitalist Fellowship, the first in the nation specifically for family medicine physicians, is housed at and offers training at DCH. Fellows who complete the program are prepared to take the necessary exams to become board certified in hospital medicine and, to date, nearly 25 family medicine physicians have completed the fellowship.

With our University Hospitalist Group and University Hospitalist Fellowship, we are caring for West Alabama.

College of Community Health Sciences operates University Medical Center