Department of Family, Internal and Rural Medicine

The Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine (FIRM) resides in the University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences. Our physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants provide medical care to thousands of patients in Tuscaloosa and surrounding urban and rural communities. 

Within FIRM, Rural Programs provides specialty graduate training to develop leaders in rural medicine and support the health of rural communities in Alabama. The master's degree program in Rural Community Health can be taken as part of the 5-year Rural Medical Scholars program (including medical school), or by students wishing to advance their graduate studies in preparation for medical school or an associated health profession, with an emphasis on rural health. 


Chair and Associate Professor
  • Tamer Elsayed, MD, M.Sc.
Associate professors
  • Drake Lavender, MD, FAAFP
  • Susan Guin, MSN, CRNP, Associate Director, Rural Programs
Assistant professor
  • Holly McCaleb, MD, Assistant Director, Rural Programs
Professor emeritus
  • James Leeper, PhD
Assistant Director
  • Cynthia Moore, Rural Programs
  • Ashley Wilder, Program Assistant
  • LaKeshia Whigham, Rural Programs
Additional Teaching Faculty
  • Antonio Gardner, PhD MS
  • Cecil Robinson, PhD
  • Elizabeth Western, MD, PhD


Rural Envir/Occup Health

The goal of the course is to help the student recognize environmental and occupational health hazards in the rural setting, the effects of exposure to these hazards and preventative measures that should be taken to avoid environmental risks. This course introduces students in the Rural Medicine Program to the basics of environmental and occupational health in the rural setting. The course is designed to help these students recognize biological, chemical, physical, safety, and ergonomic health hazards common to the rural South; the effects of human exposure to these hazards are presented; and preventive measures that should be taken to avoid such exposures are discussed. Applicable environmental and workplace regulations are reviewed.

Community Clinical Process I

A combination of scheduled sessions and fieldwork activities. The fieldwork will consist of visiting with an assigned rural advisor, completing a rural community assessment, and assisting with community health screenings and education programs.

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