Music and a festive atmosphere filled Pierson Auditorium in the UMKC Atterbury Student Success Center on Saturday night, Feb. 16, when nearly 200 people enjoyed the fifth-annual UMKC Health Sciences Harmony Gala.
The event is sponsored by the UMKC Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council. It serves as a scholarship fundraiser to support underrepresented minority students enrolled in the UMKC health sciences schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy.
In addition to dinner and dancing, the event included a presentation of the 2019 Health Care Provider Diversity Awards. This year’s awards were presented to Children’s Mercy, the Sojourner Health Clinic, Saint Luke’s Health System and Truman Medical Centers.
The award acknowledges and honors health care professionals of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds for their outstanding commitment to provide health care to underserved populations in the Kansas City metro area.
A Valentine’s Day visit from a group of nearly a dozen UMKC School of Medicine students brought smiles, and often tears, to patients at Truman Medical Center on Thursday, Feb. 14.
The fifth and sixth-year medical students are members of the school’s Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). They and their faculty advisor, Carol Stanford, M.D., professor of medicine a School of Medicine docent, spent a portion of their morning presenting roses and Valentine’s cards to throughout the hospital.
“This is one of the few times of the year where we stop what we’re doing and just take some time to appreciate the patients,” said sixth-year med student Ami Purohit, a member of the GHHS.
For a number of years now, Stanford and her honor society students have delivered roses and cards to patients on Valentine’s Day as part of the GHHS Solidarity Week for Compassionate Patient Care.
Deven Bhatia, president of UMKC’s GHHS chapter, said the organization purchased 250 roses. Earlier in the week, the students invited others throughout the med school to join them in creating more than 200 hand-made Valentine’s cards.
This was Purohit’s second year to join Stanford and her GHHS classmates on their Valentine’s Day rounds. She said she found the experience rewarding.
“A lot of times our patients are sick and they may or may not have family members coming to see them,” she said. “When you give them their rose and Valentine’s card, I think they feel that the love is mutual and we are here to take care of them. We want to treat them like people and not just a patient room number. They appreciate that.”
Many patients responded with more than smiles. They broke down in tears as members of the group delivered a rose, a card and encouraging words, “Get well soon.”
“They were crying,” Purohit said. “You can see how touched they feel when we hand them a rose and a card. That’s what has made this tradition last. I think it’s going to be around for a long time, just knowing the impact it has on our patients.”
Last year, the School of Medicine received the Gold Humanism Honor Society’s Distinguished Chapter of the Year award. The honor recognizes the chapter’s impact, leadership, service activities and humanistic learning environment.
Stanford said the chapter received the award for its program excellence, which included a national “Thank A Resident Day” that started just two years ago at UMKC.
The GHHS has 150 chapters in medical schools and nearly a dozen residency programs throughout the United States.
The Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities is currently seeking submissions for a new edition of the medical humanities magazine, The Human Factor.
The magazine recognizes the important connection between medicine and the arts and their significant roles in strengthening physician-patient relationships. It also supports the “art” of medicine by showcasing creative works and sharing human experiences.
School of Medicine students, faculty and alumni are encouraged to submit original, unpublished essays, poems, short stories, drawings, photography and other art work. Past issues also have included shared experiences from classes, field trips and concerts.
The submission deadline for the next issue is April 30. Submissions should be sent to the Sirridge Office at 2411 Holmes St., Kansas City, MO 64108, Attn: Sarah McKee, or emailed to email@example.com.
Fifty-one years ago, a group of Chicago artists created a community mural called the Wall of Respect that revitalized the neighborhood in the city’s South Side. Last year, in the same spirit, Kansas City’s Jewish Community Center created its own Wall of Respect to celebrate the diversity of cultures in the community.
That project, a 12-foot yurt decorated by local artists, will be on display in the third-floor atrium of the UMKC Health Sciences Building for one week beginning Feb. 4. The following week, Feb. 11-15, the yurt will be set up at UMKC’s Student Union.
A yurt is a circular tent typically made of felt or animal skins mounted on a collapsible frame. The local Wall of Respect project was decorated by artists representing the African American, Jewish, Asian American, Latinx/Hispanic and Native American cultures that enhance the diversity of Kansas City. Murals are painted inside and outside the yurt as well as on the roof.
Tamica Lige is chair of the Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council that is bringing Kansas City’s Wall of Respect to the university’s two campuses. The council is made up of representatives of the UMKC schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy, Children’s Mercy, Saint Luke’s Health System and Truman Medical Center.
“This is a good way for us to be involved with not only spreading the message of diversity, but also an appreciation of the arts,” Lige said. “It’s exciting that we can bring this community piece that represents diversity and inclusion in Kansas City to our campuses.”
Lige said cutout handprints will be available for visitors to decorate and hang inside the yurt to share their own ideas and stories of culture.
Jill Maidhof, director of the Jewish Community Center, will lead a walking tour and give a presentation on the yurt at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Health Sciences Building.
The yurt display is coming to UMKC as a leadup to the Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council’s annual Harmony Gala event on Feb. 16. The annual dance event is a scholarship fundraiser for underrepresented minority students at the health sciences schools. Registration is still available online at umkcalumni.com/harmonygala.
“This is the perfect time to bring the yurt to campus, in conjunction with the Harmony Gala,” Lige said. “It’s about diversity, it’s inclusion, it’s recognizing disparities and trying to address them. It’s a way to visually represent where we want to go in representing the various cultures of our community within our schools.”
Lige said this will be the first time the yurt has visited UMKC.
“It’s exciting to have it at both campuses,” she said. “We’re looking forward to sharing it with the Volker campus. The majority of what we do is focused on students here on the health sciences campus. This gives us an opportunity to serve the greater student population of UMKC and that’s really rewarding.”
Organizers of the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit are encouraging students to submit their abstracts and posters to participate in this year’s event.
The 2019 summit will take place from 3-5 p.m. on April 17 at the UMKC Student Union, Room 401. Deadline for submissions is March 27.
The research summit fosters research collaborations across disciplines and school that will produce economic, health, education and quality-of-life benefits for the greater Kansas City community. It is an opportunity for students to present their research to School of Medicine faculty.
Students can also sign up for a time to practice their presentations by sending an email to the research office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The School of Medicine sponsors individual awards for medical students and its graduate students.
This is the seventh year that the schools are participating in the program at one venue on the Volker Campus. Last year, 50 students from the School of Medicine’s M.D. and Allied Health programs presented 45 posters at the research summit.
Health Sciences Student Research Summit Important links
Colleagues who knew Larry Piebenga, MD, speak of him with true regard as both a mentor and role model for medical research, education and patient care. A legendary ophthalmologist and teacher at UMKC, Piebenga was a pioneer for developing cornea and cataract therapies.
“Many of the ophthalmology techniques used today were first developed and implemented in clinics by Dr. Piebenga,” says Peter Koulen, PhD, UMKC professor and the Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research. “Our faculty members still try to emulate him.”
“Dr. Piebenga was my mentor during my residency at UMKC,” says Timothy Walline, MD, assistant professor in UMKC’s Department of Ophthalmology. “His calm, caring manner inspired me then, and not a week goes by that I don’t fondly recall something he taught me. His sincere approach to each and every patient has been my guidepost in 25 years of practice and academic endeavors.”
“He always did the right thing no matter what the work involved was and cared for every patient no matter who they were,” says Abraham Poulose MD, FACS, associate professor in UMKC’s Department of Ophthalmology. “I have aspired to live my life, both personally and professionally, to the example that he set.”
In memory of Piebenga, his family has made a contribution to the UMKC Foundation to support a research study on corneal calcification, led by Koulen. The basic science study hopes to find ways of more precisely assessing corneal calcification and determining how changes that occur from the condition affect the ability to accurately diagnose eye diseases.
“This is potentially a high-impact study that affects the outcome of many patients,” says Koulen. “By properly diagnosing their condition, we can work to develop new therapies for eye diseases that affect patients’ vision.”
Koulen said he is excited that Piebenga’s family is making this gift to honor his legacy and hopes it inspires others to honor their loved ones with similar tributes.
“Dr. Piebenga was a true advocate of research funding and he put that commitment into action,” says Koulen. “As an avid philanthropist, he supported vision research at the UMKC Foundation, and the family’s gift showcases the mindset of Dr. Piebenga – that research is essential to our mission.”
He says their contribution also fills a critical gap for research funding as public funds are very competitive and are dwindling. “Donor gifts for small, initial studies such as this can lead to major funding for larger studies down the road,” he says.
“Research hinges on new discoveries, and philanthropy is a critical key in this process.”
The School of Medicine’s Gold Humanism Honor Society recognized 34 new members during its annual induction ceremony on Jan. 26 at Diastole. This year’s class includes 20 students, 11 residents or fellows, and three faculty members.
One faculty member, Matt Gratton, M.D., professor and chair of emergency medicine, was also recognized as the recipient of this year’s Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.
This is the 16th consecutive year that the UMKC chapter has inducted new members into the national organization. Students are selected from nominations made by colleagues. Faculty, residents and fellows are chosen based on their excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service. All members are selected for their exemplary care of patients and their humanistic approach to clinical practice.
With support from the Gold Foundation, the School of Medicine established its chapter of the honor society in 2004. A Graduate Medical Education chapter was added in 2014 specifically for School of Medicine residents.
Carol Stanford, M.D., associate professor of medicine and docent, serves as faculty sponsor for school’s chapter of the honor society. Stanford recognized each of this year’s inductees during the ceremony.
The School of Medicine chapter of the honor society serve as an ambassador to the school and Truman Medical Center in providing students, residents and fellows with opportunities to serve others.
Established in 2002 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the Gold Humanism Honor Society has more than 30,000 members nationally in training or practice. It recognizes 149 undergraduate medical education and 14 graduate medical education chapters at medical schools throughout the country.
Members are viewed by their peers as role models for humanistic care within their communities. The society also provides educational events, supports research, promotes professional growth and creates networking opportunities.
2019 Gold Humanism Honor Society
Residents / Fellows
Islam Abdelkarim (Internal Medicine)
Waled Bahaj (Internal Medicine)
Scott Biggerstaff (Internal Medicine/Pediatrics)
Clarence Dye (Emergency Medicine)
Suguni Loku Galappaththy (Internal Medicine)
Robert Garner (Pediatrics)
Kristen Jones (Internal Medicine/Pediatrics)
Shahryar Khan (Internal Medicine)
Peter Lazarz (Community and Family Medicine)
Lyla Saeed (Internal Medicine)
Jared Willard (Internal Medicine/Pediatrics)
Matt Gratton, M.D., (TMC) GHHS and Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award recipient
Daniel Pauly, M.D. (TMC)
Brandt Wible, M.D. (Saint Luke’s Hospital)
The School of Medicine recently welcomed two new staff members.
Kelli Delaney has joined the Office of Research Administration as a new grants support specialist. Cynthia Flanagan is a new Clinical Medical Librarian in the Health Sciences Library.
Beginning in 2019, the school’s research administration department will also be supporting the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies for grant proposals and awards. Delaney joins the department as it transition to supporting both schools.
Delaney comes to UMKC from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she worked in the Northwestern Materials Science and Engineering department for 10 years. Her previous experience includes research administration, event planning and general assistance to grant project principal investigators.
A graduate of UMKC with a bachelor’s degree in English, Delaney is located in the Research Administration Department in the School of Medicine 4th floor, Blue unit. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 235-6453.
Flanagan comes to UMKC with many years of experience in teaching, instruction, and outreach from a variety of library settings. She has a wealth of library skills including interlibrary loan, reference, cataloging, storage, retrieval, research assistance, and assessment.
Most recently, she worked as the Science, Nursing, and Allied Health faculty liaison, Reference and Instruction Librarian, at Harrisburg Area Community College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While there she was recognized for her keen focus on both virtual and classroom instruction, and her dedication to student development.
Flanagan graduated with her MLIS from the University of South Carolina. She subsequently worked in many diverse library settings including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency.
She began her work as a CML at the School of Medicine in January and will be working with the Red & Green teams. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 235-1884.
The School of Medicine has announced that Robert Riss, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, will serve as the next assistant dean for career advising.
In his new role at the School of Medicine, Riss will be responsible for oversight of all career advising services.
Riss is an associate director of medical student education and director of curriculum for the highly regarded pediatric clerkship at Children’s Mercy. His leadership in revising the pediatric clerkship curriculum using a scholarly approach and innovative facilitation of technology is cited as a reason for improved performance of students taking their NBME exams.
He has served on many leadership committees at UMKC and Childrens’ Mercy and currently serves as co-chair of the Medical Student Education Special Interest Group with the Academic Pediatric Association. He is also a faculty member of the association after recently completing the organization’s Educational Scholars Program.
Riss has received many awards for teaching and leadership including UMKC’s Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Award, as well as the Children’s Mercy Gold Apple Mercy Mentor Award and a faculty award for outstanding teaching support of student medical education.
He currently participates in educational research focusing on curriculum design, evaluation and implementation utilizing technology. He is an educational consultant on the NIH grant: SPeCTRE: The Sunflower Pediatric Clinical Trials Research Extension in which he is charged with designing a curriculum for primary care physicians to increase the research capacity for pediatrics in the state of Kansas.
Riss received his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine and completed his postdoctoral training as a pediatrics resident at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.