It had been four years since Monica Lau Katamura, M.D., ’13, last stepped inside the UMKC School of Medicine. So when the school’s newest docent returned in August, she wasted little time in heading to the fourth-floor Gold 1 docent unit.
“One of the first things I did was go back to my old office and take a walk down memory lane,” Katamura said. “It was surreal coming back to the place that had trained me.”
Katamura completed her residency in medicine pediatrics at Tulane University in New Orleans last spring. Now, as the School of Medicine’s Blue 8 docent, she has a new office located on the fifth floor.
As a docent, Katamura said she fees a responsibility to take what she learned as a resident, combined with her time as a student at UMKC, to help the next generation of physicians.
“I want to come back and apply some of what I learned to assess the needs among my individual group of students and make a framework of how to best mentor them, guide them and nurture them through their years three through six,” she said.
Katamura served as chief resident during her final year at Tulane, where she gained administrative experience that she hopes to incorporate into her new role as a docent. She was active in numerous volunteer activities throughout her residency, serving both locally and abroad. She collaborated with pediatrics residency staff and co-residents on the clinical learning environment committee to improve clinical and academic learning environments and provided resident leadership as chair of the medicine-pediatrics ambulatory committee.
Ultimately, Katamura said, she returned to the School of Medicine largely because of the docent program and to be a part of the mentorship that docents provide students.
“Somebody told me that alumni are the most enthusiastic docents,” Katamura said. “I am very enthusiastic about coming back.”
She isn’t alone. Two more recent additions to the School of Medicine’s docent teams are alumni.
Richard Harlow, M.D., ’82, began his role as Green 1 docent this past November.
He was a founder and one of the original owners of HIMS, one of the first and largest hospitalist groups in the Kansas City metro area. After 20 years as a hospitalist, he was ready to return to his roots.
“I have always had medical students with me during my entire time in private practice and have always loved to teach,” Harlow said. “I really feel that the UMKC School of Medicine does a singularly excellent job of preparing students to be doctors on day one and I had always wanted to return one day to give back to what I so enjoyed. I really love working with the students and residents.”
After completing an internal medicine residency at the UMKC School of Medicine and Truman Medical Centers, Harlow entered private practice in Belton, Missouri. He also served as president of the medical staff at Research Belton Hospital and as chairman of the Department of Medicine at St. Joseph Hospital.
David John, M.D., ’77, returned to Kansas City last spring and joined the School of Medicine faculty as docent for Katamura’s old student unit, Gold 1. A board-certified rheumatologist for more than 30 years, John previously practiced at Queen’s Medical Center and at Spark Matsunaga V.A. Medical Center in Honolulu.
He said when the growing demands of electronic medical records began encroaching on his teaching time, he decided to step down from his hospital work and eventually decided to leave his private practice.
“Leaving was the hardest decision I believe I’ve ever made,” John said.
In January, John stepped down as Chair of Pu’ulu Lapa’au, the Hawaii’s Physican’s Health Committee, to return to UMKC.
“It’s been a very good decision,” he said.
While in Hawaii, John served as chair of the Life Foundation, an organization that continues the fight against HIV/AIDS, and participated as a board member of Friends of Youth Outreach, attacking the problem of child homelessness.
He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Hawaii School of Medicine and his rheumatology fellowship at the University of Michigan. He joined the teaching faculty at the University of Hawaii in the department of medicine in 1984. There, he served on many committees and received the school’s Excellence in Teaching Award.