UA Names Streiffer Dean of College of Community Health Sciences
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Richard H. Streiffer, professor and past chairman of the department of family and community medicine at Tulane University Medical School in New Orleans, has been appointed dean of The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences, the Tuscaloosa branch campus of the UA School of Medicine.
Streiffer completed a residency in family medicine at UA’s College of Community Health Sciences and received the Outstanding Alumni Award for Academic Achievement from the College. He has more than 25 years of experience in the training of physicians for family and rural practice.
“Dr. Streiffer’s extensive experience in practicing and teaching family and rural medicine will make him a great leader for the College in the 21st century,” said Dr. Judy L. Bonner, UA interim president. “As a distinguished alumnus of our residency program, he will serve as a role model and guide for future physicians.”
Streiffer said he sees his role as dean as leading the College in its mission of training physicians and serving the needs of West Alabama families.
“A place like the College, based in the community with a primary-care mission, has a unique opportunity and, perhaps one would say, a social contract to focus on the needs of the community,” Streiffer said. “I see it as a place where academic physicians and health care professionals can engage with the community to figure out ways systematically to help those communities with their needs, including the physician work force needs, to improve the health of their citizens.”
A native of New Orleans, Streiffer is a graduate of Tulane University and the Louisiana State University School of Medicine. After completing a residency at UA, he spent several years in rural practice in Mississippi and served as a preceptor, or mentor, for students in his office.
He began his teaching career at the University of Mississippi and later served as director of the Mercy Family Medicine Residency in Denver. He also worked as the pre-doctoral education director in family medicine at LSU School of Medicine and as founding director of Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency program. In 1998, he joined the Tulane faculty to start the department of family and community medicine.
Streiffer has maintained an active primary care practice throughout his career, and he holds board certification in family medicine and a Certificate of Added Qualification in Geriatrics. In addition, he has been the project director on several federal training grants with a focus on primary care education and development of a rural physician work force.
He was appointed to the Louisiana Health Works Commission by Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2009, and he has served as the co-chair of the Governor’s Interagency Task Force on the Future of Family Medicine in Louisiana from 2004 to 2012. From his wide perspective on family and rural care, Streiffer sees many opportunities for the students and residents entering the College’s programs.
“I think we are facing today the most optimistic future that family medicine has had since its birth in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” Streiffer said. “The country, the government, at many levels, and big health systems, at many levels, have come to understand that vigorous expansion and support of primary care is absolutely critical if we are going to improve health care outcomes at the same time that we restrain, and, perhaps even lower, what we spend per capita on health care as a country.”
In 2011, Streiffer received the Teaching Scholar Award from Tulane’s School of Medicine and the President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional School Teaching, a university-wide award given to faculty members who have a sustained and compelling record of excellence in teaching and learning and an ongoing commitment to educational excellence. Streiffer plans to bring that level of excellence to his leadership at the College.
“The College and my residency experience here have always been a model of education that I have come back to,” Streiffer said.
With the College approaching its 40th anniversary, Streiffer said he looks forward to the challenges of preparing physicians for changes in the U.S. health-care system, particularly in the delivery of more comprehensive and coordinated primary care.
“That’s really what the charge is for the next decade, for the College to look hard at the model of how we train our doctors and anticipate the right type of skill set, the right type of training environment to prepare doctors not only for today but for 20 years from now,” he said.
Streiffer is married to New Orleans native Ann, a nurse practitioner. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.
The College of Community Health Sciences was established in 1972 in response to the state’s acute need for more primary care physicians. Many areas of Alabama, particularly small towns and rural communities, suffered from a serious lack of health care. Four decades later, the College has made significant strides in making health care more available and accessible in the state, with one out of every seven practicing family physicians in the state a graduate of the College’s residency.
Approximately 700 medical students have received their third and fourth years of clinical training at the College. Of these graduates, more than half have chosen careers in primary care. The College’s Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency has seen similar success, graduating nearly 400 family physicians into practice, with more than half of those in Alabama and the majority of those in towns with fewer than 25,000 residents and in Health Professional Shortage Areas.
Now entering its fourth decade, the College will continue to focus on primary care, rural health and the state’s unique health care need by training skilled medical practitioners and researchers for the future.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.