All posts by Greg Hack

Former faculty member Dr. Joseph Parker Jr. dies

Dr. Joseph Parker

Dr. Joseph C. Parker Jr. passed away May 3 at the age of 81. His survivors include Dr. John Parker, M.D. ’93, with whom he practiced the last 10 years of his career.

From 1986 to 1992, he served as professor and chairman in the Department of Pathology for the UMKC School of Medicine and Truman Medical Center. He also served on the Board of Directors at Truman Medical Center from 1989 to 1992.

After leaving UMKC, he was the chairman of pathology at the University of Louisville for many years. He then was director of Louisville’s pathology residency program until he retired in 2014. He co-wrote more than 130 journal articles, 95 abstracts and 10 book chapters, often with his son. Dr. John Parker said his father’s “knowledge and wisdom will live on in the hundreds of students and residents he enjoyed teaching over his long medical career.”

Match Day 2019: A day of celebration

Match Day List 2019
Match Day Photo Album

The brisk morning wind couldn’t cool the excitement and enthusiasm of Match Day 2019 at the UMKC School of Medicine. Residencies were announced for 93 students who are headed toward graduation in May. Family and friends cheered them on as they learned where they will write the next chapter in their medical careers.

Just more than half of the class will be headed to a primary care residency. Interim dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., said this year’s class exceeded the national average of students matching to primary care positions. Many, she added, are headed to notable programs throughout the country.

The students won assignments in 28 states and the District of Columbia, from Vermont to Hawaii and California to Florida. Some are headed to the top names in medicine, including Mayo, Stanford, Emory, Baylor, Yale and UCLA. A baker’s dozen will stay at UMKC and its affiliate hospitals; 22 will be elsewhere in Missouri and Kansas.

Internal medicine was the top category with two-dozen placements, followed by 14 in pediatrics or medicine-pediatrics, eight in psychiatry, seven each in family medicine and anesthesiology, and six each in emergency medicine and general surgery.

Just minutes before 11 a.m., Ryan Lee stood at the back of Theater A surrounded by friends. He was trying to remain calm as everyone waited for the appointed time when students could receive their Match envelopes and discover their residency destinations.

“Right now, I’m just feeling relieved because I know I have a job somewhere,” Lee said.

Moments later, he learned that he would remain in Kansas City for a preliminary medicine year at the School of Medicine before heading to St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital for a three-year anesthesiology residency.

Meanwhile, Amaka Ofodu was still gasping for breath and accepting a long line of hugs after receiving her first choice of residencies — medicine-pediatrics at Greenville Health System, University of South Carolina, Greenville.

“I can’t believe it. I’m still freaking out,” Ofodu said. “It’s a blessing. My family is here and my friends are all here. There’s just so much love and some much appreciation.”

Chris Favier held a letter in his hands as his father recorded the moment with a cell phone. His brother, Ben, a 2012 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine, stood nearby watching with friends and family.

“And the survey says,” Favier said as he opened the letter. “Oh my gosh, Mizzou!”

A St. Louis native, Favier will be heading closer to home for his first residency choice of emergency medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“At first you’re really nervous and anxious but as time progresses, you look around at your family and friends and the excitement keeps building,” he said. “This was one of the residencies I was expecting so I’m very happy to go. And, I’ve got a job for next year, so I’m pumped.”

Former School of Medicine resident recognizes TMC mentor on Missouri House floor

State Rep. Jon Patterson, M.D., recognized Charles Van Way, M.D., on the floor of the Missouri House.

State Rep. Jon Patterson, who completed his general surgery program in 2011 at the UMKC School of Medicine and Truman Medical Center, on Wednesday recognized the former chairman of the TMC surgery department, Dr. Charles Van Way, on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives.

Van Way travelled from his home in Kansas City to serve as the physician of the day at the Missouri State Capitol.  Before the start of session, Patterson recognized Van Way’s contributions to medicine and the United States.

“Dr. Van Way was a leading surgeon in his field and chair of surgery at Truman Medical Center.  I also thank him for his service to our country as he served in the U.S. Army Reserves and is a colonel in the Medical Corps.,” said Patterson, a Lee’s Summit Republican.

 

School of Medicine attracted sisters in Legacy Award winning family

Lange
Hembree

Two sisters who eventually became ophthalmologists were drawn to UMKC by its innovative School of Medicine. Now, the 2019 UMKC Legacy Family Alumni Award recognizes their decades of service to their communities, and their distinguished second-generation graduate.

School of Medicine alumni Mary Pat (Strickland) Lange, M.D. ’85, and Kathryn Ann (Strickland) Hembree, M.D. ’86, anchor the Strickland-Hembree family. The second generation member is Hembree’s daughter, Kathryn Hembree Night, who received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and philosophy in 2009 and is a graduate of the UMKC Honors College. She works in finance in New York.

Lange has served the Lawrence, Kansas, community for more than 25 years and is a senior partner at Lawrence Eye Care Associates. Hembree founded Northland Eye Specialists in the Kansas City area, focused on providing comprehensive family eye care.

“I was aware from a young age that I wanted to be a physician,” Lange said. “My oldest brother was in his orthopedic residency when I was in high school. The six-year program offered by UMKC appealed to me as the most direct way to pursue this career path.”

The six-year program allows someone right out of high school to earn B.A. and M.D. degrees, and it matches each younger student with an older “senior partner.” Lange said her senior partner’s keen interest in ophthalmology got her interested in that specialty, and when she saw a patient’s vision dramatically improve after laser surgery, she was hooked.

In the meantime, her older sister, Hembree, already had a degree in chemistry and biology, along with a job as a medical technologist. But she, too, had always wanted to be a physician. Spurred by Lange’s great experience at UMKC, Hembree followed her and entered the School of Medicine’s four-year track for students who already had a bachelor’s degree.

Night

Hembree also “caught” her sister’s interest in ophthalmology, saying she was drawn by “being able to see all ages of patients, assist in medical diagnosis of many systemic diseases and, most wonderful of all, helping restore vision!”

Both sisters credited the school’s extensive clinical experience with fully preparing them to practice and pursue their careers in ophthalmology.

Night, Hembree’s daughter, said she started at UMKC interested in medicine but then found philosophy, law and other pursuits interesting. She credited the Honors College with helping her follow her interests and, along with summer internships and hard work, eventually land a  job in finance in New York.

Class-wide exercise builds research skills

Jennifer Bickel, M.D. ’01, one of the professors who designed the research exercise last year, judged posters again this year.

One mark of a good experiment is that its results can be replicated. By that standard, a required research project for third-year School of Medicine students appears to be a success.

The research exercise was introduced a year ago in the medical neuroscience course and drew positive comments from the students and the faculty members who judged their projects. The reactions were much the same for the assignment’s second go-round, the results of which were presented Dec. 4 in the school lobby.

“We wanted to give students an early research experience, to raise the bar of their baseline research knowledge,” said Jennifer Bickel, M.D. ’01, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Comprehensive Headache Clinic at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Whether or not conducting research becomes a part of their careers, Bickel said, it’s vital for all physicians to know how to use research.

“All research has some weakness, and without understanding of the process, you can’t properly interpret results,” she said.

In the exercise, teams of four students used data from the Cerner HealthFacts database, a nationwide compilation of data made available by Cerner Corp., one of the largest health care software companies in the world. The student teams, with the help of a faculty mentor and a supporting biostatistician, answered a unique question they identified related to a serious medical condition. The databases used this year covered such conditions as dystonia, migraines, catatonia, stroke and seizures.

After analyzing the data and drawing conclusions, each team made a poster displaying its question and hypothesis, telling how the team members went about testing their hypothesis, explaining their findings, and identifying questions for further study.

Agostino Molteni, M.D., Ph.D., is a research leader at the school and was one of the contest judges.

For many students it was their first medical research, and several of them said the assignment was helpful in many ways. Some said that before the exercise they were worried about how difficult it would be to do research, but now they looked forward to being able to do more.

“There was a first-time learning curve,” said one student, Michele Yang. “It was a good challenge to organize our information and narrow the focus of our project.”

One of her teammates, Courtney Dorris, said she was motivated to do more research and was looking into other opportunities with faculty.

“It was a good change of pace from the classroom to have real patient data and think about how to apply it,” she said.

Other students said they found value in learning more about how to use statistics; about the need for teamwork in research; about how to present data and frame conclusions; and how to think about research that could follow up on their projects.

The exercise was devised in 2017 by Bickel; Julie Banderas, Pharm.D., BCPS, professor of pharmacology in the Department of Internal Medicine and assistant dean for Graduate Studies and Allied Health; and Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and associate dean for research.

The teams were judged for poster content, clarity, appearance and organization; their oral presentations; and demonstration of critical thinking. The top three teams and their mentors and research titles:

1st place – Group 22 – Michael Brancato, Madhavi Murali, Anna Davis, Varoon Kumar; Dr. Tyler Allison; “Relationship Between Payer Status and Length of Hospital Stay in Patients with Catatonia: Analysis of a Nationwide Sample.” 

 2nd place – Group 12 – Megan Schoelch, Eshwar Kishore, John Lin, Laraib Sani; Dr. Keith Coffman; “How Age Affects Length of Stay in Stereotactic Implantation.” 

3rd place – Group 26 – Laura Mann, Christy Nwankwo, Dakota Owens, Ethan Williamson; Dr. Jennifer Goldman; “Herpes Simplex Virus 2 Distribution Among Urban and Rural Communities.”

Patel lands speaking spot, promotes social media mentoring at radiology convention

Amy Patel, M.D. ’11, addressed the radiologists’ convention in Chicago.

Social media can play a crucial role in mentoring and sponsoring young radiologists, Amy Patel, M.D. ’11, recently told the 2018 convention of  the Radiological Society of North America.

Patel was one of only five radiologists worldwide chosen to make a 5-minute “Fast 5 Session” presentation at the radiologists’ Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting in Chicago. The convention, billed as the largest meeting of radiologists in the world, this year drew 60,000 people.

Patel is medical director of women’s imaging at Liberty Hospital and a clinical assistant professor at the UMKC School of Medicine. She told the gathering that Twitter and other social media made it possible to connect medical students, residents and fellows to practicing physicians. The hashtags #RADxx (for female radiologists) and #RADxy (for male radiologists) make it easier to connect on Twitter, she said, and as a result she is now mentoring or sponsoring many radiology trainees across the country who have sought her out.

“Social media has the opportunity to become the great equalizer,” Patel said.

The Fast 5 Session presented five radiologists each addressing a non-clinical topic. Competition for the speaking spots was heavy, and Patel said it was an honor to be chosen.

The full 2018 Fast 5 Session can be viewed here. Patel is the last of the five speakers and is introduced at the 22:50 mark. Her presentation begins at 23:45.

 

Dean Jackson helps address reappearance of polio-like disease

Cases of acute flaccid myelitis, which mainly affects children and can cause lasting paralysis, continue to be reported this fall across the U.S. When two possible cases of the polio-like disease were reported in Kansas City, people looking for answers turned to Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78, an expert in pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.

Jackson, Mary Anne
Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.

Jackson, of course, is also the interim dean of the UMKC School of Medicine, so she didn’t need a recurrence of the disease to keep her busy. But she took the news in stride, offering parents reassurance and colleagues expert advice.

The disease is extremely rare, Jackson said, with one-in-a-million odds of contracting it. So parents shouldn’t be alarmed, she said, even though reports of the disease, often referred to as AFM, have been occurring in two-year cycles since 2014.

Jackson said AFM, which appears to develop after a viral illness, could have several possible causes. Enterovirus D68 has been getting attention as a possibility, because respiratory problems from EV-D68 were widespread in 2014 when 120 cases of AFM were reported. But that virus didn’t spike in fall 2016 or this year, and other possible causes are being studied, too.

The number of AFM cases dropped to 22 in 2015 and spiked again, to 149, in 2016. The pattern continued with just 38 cases in 2017 but 90 confirmed so far this year by the Centers for Disease Control, and more than 160 other cases still being investigated.

Jackson said symptoms are easy to recognize because AFM attacks regions of the spinal cord known as grey matter. “If your child develops profound weakness, especially involving limbs, make sure to see your physician,” she said.

Jackson also recently prepared an update on the disease for physicians. Besides acute limb weakness, Jackson said, a review of AFM reports also found signs of cranial nerve involvement, such as facial weakness, in more than one-fourth of cases. She said that examining cerebrospinal fluid and doing an MRI of the brain and spine were key to diagnosing AFM, and that all cases should be reported to the CDC.

As for prevention, she said, nothing has been identified beyond the usual emphasis on hand washing and covering coughs to disrupt any viral illness that could be related. Though most AFM patients survive, weakness and paralysis can persist. Jackson said nerve transfer surgery – at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Washington University in St. Louis and Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia – showed some promise in cases of isolated limb disease. One Wash U patient, an 8-year-old boy whose legs were paralyzed in 2016, recently started walking again after the nerve transfer surgery.

Besides keeping good track of cases the rest of this fall, Jackson said, “We will have to stay tuned to see how effective new research is in uncovering the etiology of this disease.”

Michael Weaver’s health equity efforts, school’s diversity achievements recognized

Dr. Michael Weaver, M.D. ’77, has been recognized by the Black Health Care Coalition of Kansas City for his efforts to narrow the equity gap in health care for African Americans.

Dr. Michael Weaver

At Saint Luke’s Health System, Weaver is vice president for clinical diversity and chairman of the Healthcare Equity Council. At the UMKC School of Medicine, he is a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine, chair of the Minority Faculty Recruitment and Retention Committee and a longtime member of the school’s Diversity Council.

“There’s a mantra among leaders in health care equity and diversity: To have quality, you must have equity,” Weaver said. “That means looking at factors such as mortality, morbidity and readmission rates across patient populations, and striving for consistent outcomes.”

He said it was gratifying that Saint Luke’s for several years has had a Healthcare Equity Council to promote top-quality patient care regardless of demographics such as race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, language or socioeconomic status. The council also addresses issues related to population health, social health determinants, health literacy and LGBTQ issues.

Weaver’s equity work includes a grant he secured from the Healthcare Foundation of Kansas City to provide training at the School of Medicine and Truman Medical Centers and throughout the Saint Luke’s system to recognize unconscious bias.

“I think everyone needs to recognize and speak up about how unconscious bias and the social determinants of health can influence the creation of health care and health disparities,” he said.

The Black Health Care Coalition strives to eliminate health disparities through advocacy, access to care and health promotion activities. Its award to Weaver, a School of Medicine alumnus and faculty member, was one of several recent recognitions for the school regarding diversity and inclusion:

— The national magazine INSIGHT Into Diversity recently announced that it was honoring the school with a 2018 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

— The School of Medicine, along with the School of Pharmacy and the School of Dentistry, received a five-year, $3.2 million federal grant for efforts to recruit students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and improve their academic success rates in health care fields.

— The school’s associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Nate Thomas, was among the administrators praised in Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal’s first State of the University address for helping bring true excellence to UMKC. Thomas plays a critical role in implementing programs to support students and help them stay in school, overcome obstacles and succeed.

— Three leaders of the UMKC chapter of the Student National Medical Association also have taken national or regional leadership positions in the association, which supports medical students from underserved populations.

Association gives students crucial support, leadership opportunities

Eryn Wanyonyi, Amaka Ofodu and Taylor Carter became fast friends through the Student National Medical Association and now hold local, national and regional leadership positions in the organization.

Taylor Carter, Amaka Ofodu and Eryn Wanyonyi all expected medical school to be tough, and they didn’t expect to have many African-American classmates. When the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) reached out to them, even before school started, they appreciated the support.

Now, with the help of SNMA and each other, each has become a leader in the UMKC School of Medicine and in the association.

“SNMA contacted me before orientation,” Ofodu said. “I always recognized that being a minority can make things more challenging, so when I learned there was an organization founded to support underrepresented students academically and mentally, I said, ‘Let me sign up!’ ”

Carter said her first year of medical school was a struggle academically, socially and mentally. But through the association she met “three of my absolute best friends, including Eryn and Amaka.” They helped each other through that first year, and now they all are on track to graduate in May.

“That is the beauty of SNMA,” Carter said. “It gives you a support system, mentors, friends. We all have each others’ backs.”

Wanyonyi agreed: “SNMA means so much to me. It provides a place to serve the underrepresented communities we come from, a place to network, and so much more.”

Part of that “so much more” is offering leadership training and opportunities, often through fellowships in the association’s Future Leadership Project. Wanyonyi and Carter had fellowships to learn about the national association’s workings, and Ofodu attended regional training.

Now, Wanyonyi and Carter hold national SNMA posts and are co-presidents of its UMKC chapter. Ofodu is chapter vice president and assistant director for the association’s upper Midwest region.

As SNMA vice chairperson for health policy and legislative affairs, Wanyonyi helps advance association efforts to affect medical education, national health care policies and minority and women’s health. Besides all her work with SNMA, she has done research in obstetrics and gynecology, the specialty she wants to pursue. And as a Paul Ambrose Scholar, she is working on a sexual health curriculum for a Kansas City high school.

Carter is the association’s national co-chair for academic affairs. She helps develop and maintain resources to help members, such as information on internships, scholarships, fellowships and research opportunities. As a Future Leadership Project fellow, she said, “I developed leadership skills, received mentorship from SNMA leaders and engaged in personal growth through monthly conference calls, leadership projects and national officer engagement.”

Carter is interested in general surgery and is back in Kansas City after a summer rotation in Atlanta. She’s working on a diversity and inclusion research project with Miranda Huffman, M.D.; was recently inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society; and is student representative on the Honor Council and Council on Selection.

Ofodu is an associate director for the association’s 10-state Region II, which encompasses Missouri, Kansas and much of the upper Midwest.

“This year I wanted our focus to be on increasing consistency and cohesiveness among the region with regionwide events. Our first event is ‘SNMA at the YMCA,’ which will require all the chapter in the region to volunteer at a local community center.”

Ofodu, who is interested in internal medicine and pediatrics, is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She also is a Diversity Council student representative.

Producing such leaders helps fulfill another part of the Student National Medical Association mission, “addressing the needs of underserved communities and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians.”

Part of their leadership is passing their confidence and experience on to the first- through fifth-year students coming up behind them.

“I try to help my fellow SNMA members feel like they are not alone,” Ofodu said. “I want them to be aware of the stress and struggles but that they can and will be successful if they use the right resources. I also let them know that it is OK to feel scared, sad or worried, but it is not OK to let those feelings stop you from continuing with the program or your studies.”

Carter added: “To see other students, residents and doctors that look like me, doing the same thing as me is so important. SNMA has given me a support system and allowed me the chance to really develop as a leader. SNMA is invaluable to me. SNMA is my family.”

 

First alumna dean making her presence felt

Dean Jackson greeted new students and their parents and siblings on move-in day.

A full schedule is nothing new for Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78. Between seeing pediatric patients at Children’s Mercy, teaching at the UMKC School of Medicine and serving on national boards including the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Red Book Committee on Infectious Diseases and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, Jackson has always set a fast pace.

Now, as the first graduate of the school to serve as its dean, she may seem even busier. She took over as interim dean July 1 and quickly became a familiar face to hundreds of students. New students were greeted by her on move-in day and again at their inDOCtrination ceremony, and she welcomed third-year students to the more-clinical phase of their education at their White Coat Ceremony. She also will be meeting regularly with various student groups throughout the year.

Dean Jackson showed UMKC’s new president, C. Mauli Agrawal, around the School of Medicine and the UMKC Health Sciences District.

Dean Jackson also showed C. Mauli Agrawal, UMKC’s new chancellor, the School of Medicine and its surroundings when he toured the UMKC Health Sciences District. And she has held town hall style meetings to get to know faculty and staff and hear their concerns.

She also is making a point of reaching out to her fellow alumni. She gathered with alumni in the St. Louis area in August and has a Sept. 25 visit to Chicago scheduled. Events in Kansas City and Springfield also are in the works. If you live in another area and would like her to visit, please get in touch with Fred Schlichting at schlichtingf@umkc.edu.