FLORENCE — The University of North Alabama has signed another memorandum of understanding, this time with the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) in Dothan.

The agreement provides a pathway for UNA students to enroll at ACOM, and it allows third-year medical students at ACOM to finish their clinical rotations at Shoals-area hospitals.

Joy Borah, who serves as the senior associate vice president for Academic Affairs and as university chief accreditation officer, will be working with students on both sides.

ACOM Interim Dean James C. Jones signed the agreement with UNA representatives.

“We are proud to partner with an institution that enjoys the great reputation and commitment to quality that UNA has,” Jones said. “We believe that our partnership will be a strong force to help in meeting the future health care needs of our state.”

According to a news release, Dean Vickie Pierce, of UNA’s Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions, will work directly with ACOM students who come to the Shoals. She said she is excited about the partnership.

“We look forward to developing education experiences where nursing and medical students learn side by side,” she said. “This can easily be accomplished in the simulation laboratory in our new facility, the Laura M. Harrison Hall, which is scheduled to open next spring. This relationship will increase the educational experiences of students in both institutions.”

That lab will allow nursing and health professions students to experience working in a health care setting before and during their clinical work in the field.

Doctors and nurses training side by side strengthens health care for community hospitals and patients, according to ACOM Associate Dean of Clinical Sciences Heath Parker.

“Our innovative inter-professional education initiatives will be transformation for all of our students, and further strengthen our patient-centered care teams in our communities,” he said.

UNA Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Ross Alexander said the agreement will help address some of the present challenges in rural health care.

“We are so pleased with this partnership,” he said. “There are similarities in our geography, with ACOM anchoring the southwest corner of the state while we occupy the northwest corner. Further, this indicates a means to address some of the ongoing rural health care challenges we’re seeing.”

—kendyl.hollingsworth@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5757. Follow on Twitter @TD_KendylH


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