• Palliative care makes every moment count
    By Charles Buchanan • Illustrations by Ernie Eldredge • Photos by Steve Wood
    What do you want out of life?
    For someone facing a serious, chronic illness, the answers to that question take on a sharp focus. A patient with heart disease might want enough energy to walk around the neighborhood. A cancer survivor may want to feel like herself again after rounds of chemotherapy. Others might have a goal of seeing their children get married—or perhaps to get married themselves.
    Helping patients get the most out of life is the aim of palliative care—which could surprise some people who associate the specialty with hospice, or care delivered in the final days and hours. Palliative care services do indeed benefit people nearing the end of their journey, but the field has become much broader over time. Many patients with a life-threatening disease now start receiving palliative care early—sometimes soon after diagnosis—to support them throughout their fight. In fact, palliative care now ranks among the fastest growing medical specialties—67 percent of U.S. hospitals with 50 or more beds offer it, according to a 2015 report from the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC)—in part because patients, families, and physicians like its emphasis on personalized treatment goals and quality of life.
    Perhaps the best way to understand the value of palliative care is to recall a time—not long ago—when such care was scarce. Marie Bakitas, D.N.Sc., remembers it well. Earlier in her career, before becoming the Marie L. O’Koren Endowed Chair and professor in the UAB School of Nursing and associate director of the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care (CPSC), Bakitas wondered about the “invisible” patients—the ones who weren’t responding to pioneering cancer treatments. They didn’t have a lot of resources or support, she noted.
    (Left to right) Marie Bakitas and Rodney Tucker lead the UAB center providing an extra layer of support for patients dealing with serious illnesses.
    Likewise, J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom, Ph.D., a School of Nursing postdoctoral fellow who worked as an intensive-care unit nurse for 10 years, saw patients and families navigating a traumatic “alien environment” of life-sustaining machines and uncomfortable procedures. “They often were dumbstruck,” he explains. “It was not how they imagined the end of their lives.”
    The “extra layer of support” that palliative care provides can make all the difference, both physically and emotionally, Bakitas says. Teams of specialists focus on the patient’s comfort, managing symptoms such as pain, breathing issues, nausea, vomiting, and sleeping problems, to name a few examples, along with depression, anxiety, and spiritual issues. They also help patients and families make health-care decisions and plan for the future.
    What these teams don’t do is replace a patient’s primary- or specialty-care physicians. Many patients concurrently receive treatments geared toward cure or remission, and the palliative care team works in tandem with their doctors. That’s the case with many cancer patients, says Rodney Tucker, M.D., director of the UAB CPSC. The same goes for “a heart-failure patient struggling earlier in the disease process, or a patient and family early in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease who need a discussion about advance care planning and what to anticipate,” he adds. “Any patient with an illness that is life-threatening or life-limiting—one that causes severe decreases in quality of life—could benefit from palliative care.” Age, disease, and stage of disease progression do not matter.
    “We’ve shown that people who engage in palliative care early and concurrently have improved survival rates,” Tucker says. “That’s the opposite of what many people think—that if I’m acknowledging my serious illness, then I’m giving up hope. When people are aware of all their choices, then they often select options that improve the quality of their lives when the quantity of their lives is limited.”
    Here’s an example of one of those choices: Let’s say you’re a cancer patient with a normal life expectancy, but you’re dealing with the side effects from treatment. Is the best solution a medication with its own powerful side effects such as confusion or drowsiness? Or do you pursue other forms of symptom management with less impact on your day-to-day life?
    Specialist teams led by (left to right) Ashley Nichols and Elizabeth Kvale design palliative care plans to meet patient and family goals.
    Elizabeth Kvale, M.D., might advise you to choose the latter. She directs the UAB Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic, located at The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital. UAB was among the first palliative care programs to establish an outpatient clinic, around 2000, and it’s where Kvale and her team help patients who are living with cancer, advanced heart disease, lung disease, or other serious conditions. Some of those patients still receive medical treatment for their chronic diseases, while others have completed it. Kvale and her colleagues help all of them manage symptoms. She compares the clinic to “a good corner man in a boxing match, who can keep patients patched up enough to stay in the fight if they want to do that.”
    A few blocks away, another team, led by Ashley Nichols, M.D., staffs UAB Hospital’s 12-bed Palliative and Comfort Care Unit. Each room resembles a hotel suite, with comfortable leather couches, warm lighting, and wood accents—and the comparison is appropriate, Nichols says, because it is a “transitional unit.” Here, critically ill patients and their families have an option beyond the ICU while they are in the hospital, and for many of them, the next stop is their own home. “That’s where so many patients want to be,” says Nichols, a School of Medicine assistant professor. “So we work to control their symptoms, and we work with families and community hospice partners to develop a care plan to get them back home.”
    Beyond the unit, Nichols and her group visit patients with every kind of disease throughout UAB Hospital, provide care at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Children’s of Alabama, and coordinate continued care with community hospice partners; they even do a few home visits. Typically, the team works with physicians on late-stage care, “but we’re also consulted more upstream—earlier in the disease process—when teams recognize an uncontrolled symptom burden, such as shortness of breath from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pain from a newly diagnosed cancer, or depression and anxiety associated with any chronic illness,” Nichols says. “If a symptom bothers patients, then it bothers us. We can partner with them and their physicians early and help manage symptoms throughout the course of the disease, as well as talk about goals for the patient’s care.”
    Those goals are the key to quality palliative care, no matter the setting. What do patients want to accomplish—today, tomorrow, and in the rest of their lives? What kind of care will help them achieve their aims? Helping patients weigh the benefits of medical interventions against the potential costs to their quality of life, not to mention their pocketbook, is “the crux of what we do,” says Kvale, an associate professor in the School of Medicine. “Our objective is to align our care plan with patient and family goals. We also want to provide a space where it is OK for them to begin exploring other options, such as not seeking further invasive treatments.”
    A hospital is not the easiest place to perform a full-immersion baptism, but UAB Pastoral Care chaplains have made it happen, thanks to an arrangement with UAB’s therapy pool. They also have officiated marriages for patients, complete with music and wedding cake; nurses helped one bride with a dress and makeup.
    Mostly, though, they simply talk with patients about their sources of strength and the big questions that arise in tough times, sometimes without bringing up religion at all.
    The chaplains are part of the interdisciplinary teams that staff the Palliative and Comfort  Care Unit and the Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic. Both groups bring together a variety of specialists who can help patients relax physically and cope mentally: physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, dieticians, physical therapists, music therapists, and even massage and pet therapists, in addition to spiritual care. In meetings, each professional provides a different perspective on what each patient needs; the result is a comprehensive, holistic, seamless care plan, Nichols says.
    Teams also support families and caregivers. “Most of our patients live in the community and try to manage their illnesses with the help of a caregiver, so if we aren’t helping them engage with what’s going on with the patient, then the system is likely to fail,” Kvale says. “It’s a place where palliative care can have a big impact.”

    Listening may be the teams’ most powerful tool. When patients and families share their stories, they reveal much about their symptoms and quality of life—but also their joys, fears, loves, regrets, relationships, and unfinished business.
    (Left to right) Diane Tucker and Kay Knowlton encourage patients and families to talk about grief, fear, and the future.
    “We listen with no agenda; we’re not trying to diagnose anything or resolve relationship issues,” says counselor Kay Knowlton, Ph.D. The overriding emotion is grief, she adds—grief over the end of life, or grief over life changes caused by illness. For example, a patient in the Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic whose cancer is in remission might not look sick, but chemotherapy and radiation may have affected her sight, hearing, cognitive function, and ability to return to work.
    “She’s coping with losses as well,” says Diane Tucker, Ph.D., a UAB psychology professor who also counsels palliative care patients. “She can’t go back to where she was before treatment.”
    Diane Tucker and Knowlton help patients and families adjust to their new normal by talking with them about the future—how to move forward and accomplish what they consider important—without discounting the sadness, worry, or anger they might be experiencing. Tucker notes that suffering and pain are partly psychological. Helping patients handle their tension and fear can bring some relief.
    Often, the psychologists help patients leave a legacy for their loved ones. Patients might write letters to their children or grandchildren, to be read when they are graduating from high school, getting married, or marking other milestones. Patients and families also can use the hospital unit’s art station to create a treasured memento.
    Knowlton recalls helping one nine-year-old girl make handprints with her ill grandmother. The big and small handprints touched at the thumbs. “It didn’t mean that the girl wasn’t going to cry anymore, but it was a connection she needed because her grandma was leaving,” Knowlton says.
    Likewise, the marriage ceremonies that the chaplains have performed create legacies for family members. Sometimes it means that the survivors can receive benefits. But these special moments also become pieces of family history that they can cherish for the rest of their lives.
    Although palliative care has made great strides in recent years, millions more patients stand to benefit from it—if they can access it. The specialty is scarce or nonexistent in smaller hospitals, rural areas, and minority and underserved communities, says Bakitas. Alabama traditionally has ranked among the states with the lowest access, with less than one third of hospitals offering palliative care, according to the 2015 CAPC report. And there are a host of reasons why: lack of palliative care knowledge among health providers, socioeconomic factors, geographic distance, and transportation issues, among others.
    Bakitas, along with Dionne-Odom, is bridging those gaps via telehealth—teaching palliative care principles to patients over the phone. Health coaches “show patients how to build upon the strengths of their personal, family, and community resources,” Bakitas says. They also talk about problem-solving and decision-making, self-care, early symptom management, communicating health concerns to clinicians, and emotional and spiritual topics. “We help people think about their illness in context,” she explains. “The illness is not who they are; it’s only a piece of their lives.”
    Dionne-Odom develops telehealth programs for family caregivers as well as patients newly diagnosed with advanced illness. Caregivers often experience levels of stress and anxiety equal to—and sometimes greater than—those of patients, he notes. Talking with a health coach offers an outlet to express what they’re experiencing and to learn skills and coping abilities.
    In fact, a recent study led by Dionne-Odom was the first to show that early palliative care benefits caregivers as well as patients. For caregivers of patients with advanced cancer living in rural areas, depression scores improved when those caregivers received palliative care via telehealth within a month after diagnosis, as opposed to those whose patients received care four months later. For patients in the study, one-year survival improved by 15 percent.
    Now, with support from the National Palliative Care Research Center, Dionne-Odom is laying the groundwork for a new intervention to coach family caregivers at diagnosis, through the course of disease, and into bereavement. He hopes to implement the initiative in rural areas of Alabama and the Deep South.
    Bakitas also is expanding her investigations with a $3.5-million National Institute of Nursing Research grant to study whether early palliative care, delivered by phone, can improve quality of life, mood, and symptom burden for advanced heart-failure patients and their caregivers. The American Cancer Society also awarded her a grant to study the impact of a phone-based intervention for veterans, minorities, and rural patients with advanced cancer.
    UAB researchers also are expanding palliative care’s boundaries by adapting it for other serious diseases. Few specialists had studied the intricacies of chronic pain in patients with HIV before Jessica Merlin, M.D., M.B.A., began her work. “It’s not clear why there’s a lot of chronic pain with HIV,” says Merlin, assistant professor and director of the HIV Pain/Palliative Care Clinic at UAB’s 1917 Clinic. “Does something with HIV predispose patients to pain?” To complicate matters, some patients might experience chronic pain not caused by HIV, such as migraines or arthritis, and current medications aren’t entirely effective and may carry risks, she adds.
    (Left to right) Jessica Merlin and J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom are adapting palliative care for rural areas and diseases such as HIV.
    Now Merlin is developing an intervention—supported by a National Institutes of Health grant—that relies on behavioral therapy instead. “It’s unlikely that a pill can take away chronic pain, so we need to help patients put their pain in the background and themselves in the foreground,” Merlin explains. She envisions a program in which patients learn pain self-management skills from a trained provider.
    “This is practical,” Merlin says. Medical research suggests that “when patients come to physicians and other providers, their highest priorities are treating pain and other symptoms.”

    To ensure that health professionals understand quality-of-life issues, the UAB CPSC has a robust educational program. UAB students and residents in medicine, nursing, clinical psychology, and social work rotate through or intern in the clinic and hospital unit. For many, “this may be the first encounter with a patient who’s dying,” Nichols says. And that leads to important early lessons about discussing difficult end-of-life decisions with patients, handling anger and sadness from families, and responding personally to the loss of a patient. It also influences how future professionals look at life and death, Nichols adds. “Death is not a failure, but an opportunity to support patients and families.”
    Physicians, nurses, and others seeking advanced training can join UAB’s specialized fellowship program or its clinical training academy, which has attracted professionals from as far away as Australia to observe UAB palliative experts at work. In addition, “we have trained 85 health-care institutions across the country and one in Korea about building business plans around palliative care,” Rodney Tucker says.

    Palliative care will continue to grow and become more common throughout health care, say UAB’s experts. The field’s focus on patients and their goals offers a template for personalized medicine. And demand for it will rise as health care shifts toward “managing disease crises at home quickly and efficiently so that patients don’t need to come to the hospital,” Nichols says.
    “We must learn better ways to partner with care organizations closer to the patient—including those that may not be considered palliative care, such as home-care organizations and skilled nursing facilities,” Rodney Tucker says. This year, the CPSC will establish the Southeast Institute for Innovation in Palliative and Supportive Care, which will educate health workers in communities throughout the region and conduct research to better understand the needs of seriously ill patients and families. Some of those initiatives may build on UAB’s pioneering work in telehealth and the training of lay navigators—people in community settings who can help patients make sense of the health-care system and their options.
    While the new institute will give UAB a greater voice in the national conversation about palliative care, the specialists on UAB’s care teams feel privileged to help Alabama’s mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and their families and friends maximize their lives when facing tough situations and choices.
    “The truth is that none of us know how much time we have left,” Knowlton notes. “So what is today about? How can we live today in the best way possible?”
    Some of the seeds for palliative care’s rapid growth were planted in the 1990s by a team led by UAB psychiatrist John Shuster, nurse scientist Pam Fordham, and medical oncologist Amos Bailey. Their partnership brought together the UAB schools of Medicine and Nursing and Cooper Green Hospital to promote clinical care, education, and research in the emerging field. The group soon established some of the nation’s earliest fellowship programs for physicians and training tracks for nurse practitioners.
    Ten years ago, the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care opened two clinical units, at UAB Hospital and the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, within six months. At that time, when many major cities across the country barely had one inpatient palliative care facility, Birmingham had three, counting Cooper Green’s unit.
    Nationally, UAB is one of only 11 Palliative Care Leadership Centers, which train and mentor other institutions launching their own clinical programs, and was among the first nursing education programs in palliative care. UAB also is a founding member of the national Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group.
    Published April 2016
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  • Illuminating the dark world of human trafficking
    By Rosalind Fournier • Photos by Steve Wood • Header and infographics illustrations by Ron Gamble
    When Robert Blanton, Ph.D., taught the first Honors College course on human trafficking last spring, he began by introducing his students to the dark nature of the topic—from modern slave labor to sex trafficking.
    “We started out by watching a fairly indicative video of how the process works,” he remembers. It followed the stories of international sex-trade victims—women lured away from home under false pretenses and sold into prostitution rings, where they were regularly beaten and brutally raped.
    Blanton says many students were in tears before the video ended. And then he shocked them again: Human trafficking isn’t confined to impoverished, far-flung countries, he told them. It happens in Birmingham.
    “These are real humans, and these are real things going on,” he said. “Now let’s pull back and figure out how to analyze it.”

    Beyond Emotion

    Blanton, a professor in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences Department of Government, had touched on the subject of human trafficking in previous classes and was struck that several students chose to do their senior theses on the topic. Their interest was contagious. “This was always a topic I wanted to explore,” he says, “but it was the students themselves who taught me how important an issue it is.”
    To develop the original course and a separate Honors College seminar titled Diamonds, Drugs, and Guns, a survey of the illicit global economy, Blanton went beyond heartstrings and headlines to help students understand human trafficking as a global problem perpetuated by numerous complex factors. “You have to get beyond the sheer emotion and examine this as an economic, social, and political phenomenon,” he says. “I tell my students that if they really want to effect change, then they have to know more than the horrible things that go on. They need to know why they happen.”

    Through his course and honors seminar, Robert Blanton analyzes the economic, social, psychological, and political underpinnings of human trafficking.

    Terrible Truths

    Tessa Case, a junior from Birmingham majoring in international studies, says that prior to the course, she had a common misperception about the subject created by popular culture. One example is the 2008 hit movie Taken, starring Liam Neeson, in which beautiful, privileged white women are kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. It makes for a dramatic plot—but Case says it only perpetuates a myth.
    “You see a movie like that and think crime syndicates drug and kidnap these women,” she says. “That actually got me interested in this subject. But the reality is completely different.” There are places in the world where parents knowingly sell their daughters out of desperation, she says. “There are certain dynamics like that where you have to put your cultural lenses on so that you can understand the root of the problem.”
    Meanwhile, Case notes that while the sex trade often gets the lion’s share of attention in the media, it’s far from the only form of modern slavery. “While sex trafficking is pervasive, on a global level, there is a lot of forced labor and labor trafficking that makes up the majority of the human trafficking problem,” she says.
    The most common form of slavery today is bonded labor, Blanton adds. “That’s where you bring in ‘employees’ to do a job and then essentially take away their free will,” Blanton explains. “You take their passports or papers, or make it physically impossible for them to leave. Then you tell them they owe you a debt, because you brought them there—they have to work to repay that debt. There are situations in India where the debt is passed down from generation to generation, and the kids are born into slavery.”

    Holistic Understanding

    Though most of the students who enrolled in the new course had heard something about modern slavery, junior Sarah Leffel, an education major from Huntsville, Ala., had actually seen the tragic stories up close. The summer after her freshman year, she went to Thailand to work with an organization dedicated to rescuing women from the sex trade. She recalls many heartbreaking encounters with the women—many of whom become emotionally as well as financially dependent on the very people who exploit and abuse them.
    But it took Blanton’s class, she explains, to gain a more holistic understanding of the problem. “At first, when people would speak analytically about it, I would say, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about. You didn’t experience it,’” Leffel remembers. “But what I learned through the class was even bigger than studying about human trafficking or the sex trade. It was the value in approaching a problem mentally, stepping back from my emotions to be able to process other perspectives.”

    (Left to right) Students Sarah Griffin, Sarah Leffel, and Tessa Case came away from the course resolved to combat human trafficking through awareness, education, and the law.

    Close to Home

    One of the toughest truths about human trafficking for many Americans, including Blanton’s students, is how widespread it is in the United States. Birmingham is part of a sexual-trafficking network along the Interstate 20 corridor that also includes Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga. “That’s basically the loop,” Blanton explains, “and Birmingham is a pretty big cog in that wheel.”   
    Sarah Griffin, a junior from Birmingham majoring in political science and philosophy, remembers her reaction to that as nothing short of shock. “I never knew about this,” she says. “This is my home. How can these terrible things happen here?”
    Blanton echoes Griffin’s reaction. “That was one of the things that always amazed me when I first started looking into it,” he says. “It’s close. It’s on Oxmoor Road in Homewood. A lot of people have no idea.” To drive home the point, Blanton invited Tajuan McCarty—founder and executive director of the WellHouse, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing sex-trade victims in Birmingham and throughout the Southeast—to share her experience, which includes being a survivor herself, with students.

    Vulnerability and Psychology

    The class also discussed numerous examples from other states, from slave-labor camps working in agriculture in South Carolina and Florida to nail salons in New York City that have forced women to work without pay. A modern-day slave can be anyone from an illegal immigrant who doesn’t speak the language to an American teenage runaway seduced by a smooth-talking stranger. The common factor, Blanton says, is vulnerability.
    But how do traffickers manage to hold their victims captive, sometimes in plain sight? “It’s a really twisted psychology behind this,” Blanton explains. “Often it’s one part loyalty—a very strong form of the Stockholm syndrome [irrational feelings of empathy toward captors]—one part economic need, and then the other part is fear. They’re afraid of the outside, afraid of the unknown, and afraid that if they leave, they may end up being even worse off.”
    To understand how complicated and seemingly intractable human trafficking is, the students did in-depth studies of the different forms it can take and the factors that make it possible. One group focused on the relationship between human trafficking and the “deep web”—huge swaths of the Internet that are hidden from standard search engines and thrive on anonymity. Another studied the practice of slavery by terror groups like ISIS and the Taliban in the Middle East. Still another project was dedicated to human trafficking in and around Birmingham.

    Ready to Act

    In spite of the dark, often demoralizing subject matter, many students have come away from Blanton’s class—which he plans to offer again—resolved to raise awareness and help combat the problem. Case is doing an internship at Sojourns, a local fair-trade store. “A lot of fair trade is giving people a chance to make a living wage,” she explains, “and that takes away some of the vulnerability factors that help perpetuate exploitation.” She’s also helping to plan an event at the store to raise awareness of sex trafficking. Leffel wants to return overseas and teach English to women who are coming out of sex slavery. And Griffin, who aspires to go into politics and eventually run for public office, hopes she’ll be in a position to support laws that combat human trafficking and protect victims’ rights.
    Blanton finds that deeply encouraging. “It’s been heartening to see how motivated they are,” he says. “It’s great to take students who want to make a difference and play some part in giving them the analytic tools they need to better understand the problem.” That knowledge could help them make a real impact—one that could bring hope to the captive, suffering “real humans” at the heart of the issue.
    About the infographics: Several organizations compile statistics about human trafficking based on quantifiable information including arrests and calls to helplines. While the true number of perpetrators and victims cannot be known for certain, given the underground nature of the practice, the figures presented here help indicate the depth of the problem.
    Published April 2016
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  • Lessons that pay dividends for life
    By Nancy Mann Jackson • Photos by Steve Wood
    (Above and below) Stephanie Yates introduces the basics of budgeting, saving, and other money matters to students at Birmingham's Putnam Middle School.
    Last summer, UAB student Brandon Pickett worked as a lead counselor in a camp where the kids learned survival skills—the kind involving dollars and cents. During the four-day Money Math Camp, he and other counselors taught 45 middle-schoolers from low-income and minority school districts about money management and the impact of career choices on future lifestyles.
    “As a kid, I was never taught the importance of saving and investing and other financial tools needed for success,” says Pickett, who is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration. The camp, he says, offers an opportunity to guide and mentor the next generation so that it can capitalize on that invaluable knowledge throughout their lives.
    The Money Math Camp is one facet of the Regions Institute for Financial Education at UAB, a bold and broad effort to help people successfully manage their personal finances by learning the skills and knowledge essential to that task. Regions Bank provided a gift to the UAB Collat School of Business to create and support the institute. Now the two are partnering to organize programs for K-12 students as well as UAB students, employees, and the Birmingham community.
    A financial education center is an important resource for a growing community, says Stephanie Yates, Ph.D., institute director and UAB associate professor of finance. “Here, families and individuals can get answers in one place from credible sources,” she explains.

    Building Piggy Banks

    The institute dispenses useful, practical information tailored to each stage of life. Grade-school children love learning the basics of money through hands-on activities, Yates says. “They get to handle money, build piggy banks, and do some role-playing involving money decisions,” she notes. “College students want to know about credit, debt, and investing. Adults want to know how to send their kids to college and prepare for retirement.”
    In the classroom, the institute and Regions focus on college and career readiness. They have partnered with Birmingham City Schools to provide financial education to approximately 3,500 students over seven years through the Pathways to Success program. Working with GEAR UP Alabama and GEAR UP Birmingham, they will reach approximately 9,500 students throughout the city and Alabama’s Black Belt over seven years through programs such as the Money Math Camp. Even teachers can take part through sessions designed to help them better explain financial topics to high-school students.
    On campus, UAB students, athletes, faculty, and staff can participate in Financial Education Boot Camps, one- to two-hour workshops on topics such as paying for college, budgeting, and basic investing. Future courses will help students understand financial topics relevant to their majors.
    The public has explored saving and budgeting at sessions hosted by the institute at the Birmingham Public Library. “We are trying to reach as many people as possible to provide them with the knowledge they need in order to be financially successful,” says Jackie Russell, J.D., instructor in the UAB Department of Accounting and Finance.
    Organizers envision the center becoming a nationally known personal finance resource, with research to evaluate the immediate and long-term outcomes of its programs, Yates says. Currently, Yates is studying gender differences in financial education delivery, based on research conducted during last summer’s Money Math Camp. Her findings will help to shape the design and implementation of future financial education programs.

    Immediate Impact

    For Collat School of Business faculty, the opportunity to share financial expertise with the community represents a chance to make an immediate impact. “There are a lot of people who manage their finances based on what they heard from somewhere or what someone told them, and the institute provides a venue to help clear up some of those misunderstandings,” Russell says. “I want to teach people the power of the money that they already have. Everyone wants more money, but for most, there is a process to get there. So you have to learn to manage a budget, manage your credit, understand the impact of student loans, understand why you would invest in your 20s, and so forth.”
    The institute “shows the importance of the community working together to produce responsible future members of society,” adds Elizabeth Turnbull, a UAB business instructor who teaches financial lessons to K-8 students. “Hopefully, by starting with the younger members of the community, we can help them practice good money management, and they will teach others to do so as well. Students will see how important this topic is in their lives, both now and in the future.”
    Published April 2016
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