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Family physician Tom Kincer shares his perspective on practicing medicine in the state of Alabama.
Family physician Tom Kincer is the program director for the Montgomery Family Medicine Residency Program, a community-based initiative sponsored by Baptist Health, a not-for-profit organization in central Alabama. He is also the president of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
Kincer came to Alabama to complete a rural-based residency program: Having grown up in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, he wanted a rural training experience. He recently told Physicians Practice, "I was so at home in Alabama I just never left." For him, Alabama has it all.
For you, what is the best part of practicing medicine in the state of Alabama?
Alabama is largely a rural state steeped in Southern culture and tradition where everyone is your neighbor and being friendly just comes naturally. Community still exists in Alabama even in the larger cities of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile. As a physician I know my patients, their families, and their friends. During a trip to the local Walmart, I will run across people I know from all areas of my life. It’s not unusual to answer a few medical questions as well. While this may not appeal to some, being an integral part of the larger community has always been a part of my life.
Alabama’s climate is very difficult to beat. The temperatures rarely fall below 30 degrees in the winter and the summertime highs can reach 100 degrees, but usually are in the low 90s. Being an avid runner, I rarely miss a day of running due to weather. From the mountains in northern Alabama to the beaches on the Gulf, Alabama is an outdoorsman's paradise. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and canoeing are year-round events.
Alabama has very little managed care at this point. Patients have a choice on what physician they can see, which serves to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship. As a family physician I enjoy being a vital part of the physicians in my community and am readily accepted in our tertiary care hospital as a physician who can provide ER, ICU, and OB care, as well as perform endoscopy.
Alabama has a strong medical association with participation from all specialties. The AAFP makes medical students and residents a part of the academy which fosters their participation throughout their career. I have always enjoyed the physician community and now as president of the AAFP I am able to provide leadership to those physicians who have become a vital part of my life and career.
What, if anything, would you change about the climate for physicians in Alabama?
Alabama has had some of the lower rankings in primary public education throughout the years causing a lot of parents to look to private schools to educate their children. It’s a difficult cycle to break as families who can afford private education take their children out of the public sector, draining the school system of some of the higher performing students. In turn, this serves to keep the performance ratings of the public schools lower. A push to build new public schools over the past 10 or so years has caused a modest shift of students back into the public schools, with an overall notable rankings increase, albeit small.
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