All posts by Greg Hack

White Coat Ceremony marks stepped-up clinical education for 110 UMKC School of Medicine students

Third-year medical students at the UMKC School of Medicine entering the more intensive clinical phase of their medical school training marked that passage Aug. 5th with their White Coat Ceremony.

The ceremony united 110 students who spent the majority of their first two years studying on the Volker Campus with their new docent units at Hospital Hill and Saint Luke’s Hospital. The 2018 White Coat Ceremony was held at White Recital Hall with Jill Moormeier, M.D., chair of internal medicine at Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill, presiding.

See more photos from the 2018 White Coat Ceremony

The third-year students also heard from Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78, the school’s interim dean. And they saw Jared Keeler, M.D. ’94, win this year’s award for the outstanding year 1 and 2 docent.

Sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the White Coat Ceremony emphasizes the importance of compassionate care for patients and proficiency in both the art and the science of medicine. It has been a tradition at the UMKC School of Medicine since 2003.

Then came the highlight of the event: students learning new docent team assignments and being cloaked in their new white coats. Raymond Cattaneo, M.D. ’03, assistant dean for years 1 and 2, presented the white coats.


Volunteer work gives sixth-year student great satisfaction and earns him the first Amit J. Patel Extra Mile Scholarship

Amit J. Patel, M.D.’05, congratulates sixth-year medical student Luke He, the first recipient of a scholarship Patel financed to recognize students committed to helping others through volunteering.

Luke He, heading into his sixth year at the UMKC School of Medicine, says he does volunteer work “because I’m motivated by the impact it has made, not for my own recognition.”

But now He has been recognized for that work, and in a big way, as the first recipient of the Amit J. Patel Extra Mile Scholarship.

Patel, a 2005 School of Medicine graduate and docent for the Green 8 unit, started a scholarship aimed at students who volunteer for many reasons: because he knows of the great commitment students make; because “serving others, particularly those in need, is our greatest duty”; and because “it’s important for the students to know that alumni are proud of them and want them to succeed.”

For He, service to others has always been a top value in his family. He has lived that by volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Gold Key International Honour Society, Camp Cardiac and Harvesters.

“Before I was born, my parents immigrated here from China seeking better opportunities for their future kids,” said He, whose brother, James He, is also a UMKC School of Medicine student. “My parents are highly educated and had great jobs in China, yet they chose to leave all of their friends and family for their own future family. They’ve made huge sacrifices in their lives so I could have the opportunity to get a great education and a productive career.”

He is co-president of the School of Medicine’s Class of 2019 and previously received a Missouri State Medical Association Scholarship, which has helped him get on his way to a great career. And he said the Extra Mile Scholarship will be a great help, too.

“This is a significant amount of money and has a huge impact on my financial situation,” said He, whose wife, Breanna, is a recent UMKC School of Education graduate just starting to teach second grade. “I have held a part-time job every year in medical school, and I plan to continue working the same amount of hours. But the scholarship means I will be able to take out less in loans this year, though I am anticipating more expenses with residency applications and traveling for interviews.”

He also plans to keep up his volunteer work with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“It’s an organization in which you are matched with an elementary or high school student who may qualify based on the family’s financial situation, or a variety of other challenges that they may face,” He said. “Together, my ‘little’ and I cook, fish, hike, go to sporting events and much more.”

Rather than a burden, He said, volunteering should be something one enjoys – and he definitely enjoys hanging out with his “little brother.”

“I usually try to assist him in school and recently helped him get a job. We are doing more and more career planning as he gets through high school,” He said. “My biggest goal is to have him explore different career fields and start taking the right steps toward his future.”

He, who is interested in emergency medicine, also said he was inspired by his benefactor and impressed that Patel, in mid-career, “is so passionate about investing in students that he is awarding this huge scholarship.”

For his part, Patel said He was “more than deserving.”

“I truly believe that being a physician is an honorable profession if approached with a selfless attitude,” Patel said. “I wanted to give back to my school, but moreso the students directly because I was a student here not too long ago. I feel really happy to see our students succeed.”

School of Medicine tops in Hospital Hill Run participation

From left, Kelly Rasor, WorkPlace Foot Race coordinator; Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78; Jordann Dhuse, medical student and avid runner; Hospital Hill Run Director Beth Salinger; and Director of Advancement Fred Schlichting.

The Hospital Hill Run this year added the WorkPlace Foot Race by Blue KC, designed to increase community fitness and participation in the nationally known race weekend. The contest was open to schools, businesses, non-profits and health care organizations across the area, and the UMKC School of Medicine took first place.

The contest awarded 5 points for each half marathon participant, 4 points for each 7.7-mile race participant and 3 points for each 5K participant and volunteer. The points then were divided by the number of employees for each business or organization, so that participation rate rather than sheer numbers won the day. The School of Medicine had 111 participants.

This also was the first year for the UMKC Health Sciences District to be the presenting sponsor for the race weekend. The race was started by Dr. E. Grey Dimond, the founder of the UMKC School of Medicine. For several years the school sponsored the Friday evening 5K portion of the Hospital Hill Run, and UMKC medical students routinely volunteer to help with the race, including as staff for the medical tent during the races.

Longtime race director Beth Salinger and Kelly Rasor, who is in charge of the WorkPlace Foot Race, presented a traveling trophy on July 19 to the School of Medicine. Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78; Director of Advancement Fred Schlichting; and Jordann Dhuse, a 2017 Hospital Hill Run winner and UMKC medical student active in the Health Science District’s Run/Walk Club, were on hand to accept the trophy.

Besides sponsorship from Blue KC, the WorkPlace Foot Race has support from the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City and expects participation to grow next year as more organizations use it to promote their fitness and team-building.








UMKC students in finals of AMA Global Health Competition

Shannon Demehri and Hunter Faris, two UMKC School of Medicine sixth-year students , are finalists in this year’s AMA Global Health Competition. If they win, they get to go on a medical mission to Ecuador, Guatemala or the Dominican Republic.

In the next stage of the competition, they need people to watch their video, “Lasting Difference,” and vote for it by clicking on the “thumbs up” above it. People can vote once a day through July 30. The five teams with the most votes will advance to a final round of judging.

Demehri said their video was about the importance of empathy and about “what we would learn from interacting with patients on a global health trip that will make us better health care providers.” In it, Demehri tells her experience treating a young immigrant mother who had fled abuse in her home country and now suffered persistent headaches and insomnia. The key to being able to help her, Demehri said, was learning the woman’s story, empathizing with her and earning her trust. Faris tells of working at a summer camp for children coping with cancer and of bonding with one 11-year-old boy — but only after figuring out how to understand and appreciate his situation and the extraordinary challenges he had already faced.  

Besides sharing a commitment to advancing global health equity, Demehri and Faris both plan residencies with the U.S. Navy, she in anesthesia and he in general surgery. They also were on a team of UMKC students that went on a medical mission to Nicaragua in 2015.

The medical missions are run by Timmy Global Health, an organization based in Indianapolis and founded in 1997 by Dr. Charles Dietzen, a pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist. He worked internationally in many countries, including with Mother Teresa, before starting the organization to pass his commitment to global health equity on to medical students. Dietzen named the organization after his brother, Timmy, who died in infancy.

Timmy Global Health sends medical service teams to support the work of international partner organizations and channels financial, medical, and human resources to community based health and development projects. So far it has treated more than 84,000 patients and distributed more than $1 million in aid to partner organizations.

Going to the mat: Free yoga class Thursday

To celebrate International Yoga Day, the UMKC Health Sciences District will be offering a free class from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 21. The class will be taught by a certified instructor and is open to all UMKC students, faculty and staff.

Come enjoy a gentle but effective hour of exercise. The class will be at the northeast corner of Holmes and 25th, in the green space south of the nursing and pharmacy schools.

The district asks that you sign up here or email The first 25 yogis to sign up receive free yoga mats. You’ll also be able to register to win an exciting gift basket.

UMKC’s Gold Humanism chapter recognized nationally

Graduating chapter members and adviser Carol Stanford, M.D. ’79, proudly displayed their award banner at graduation.

The School of Medicine’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society was one of three nationwide to win this year’s Distinguished Chapter Award.

The med school chapters at Vanderbilt and Georgetown also were recognized. The awards recognize advancement in patient-centered care, sustaining a humanistic learning environment and demonstrating leadership.

The UMKC chapter has been led for several years by Dr. Carol Stanford, who earned her M.D. at UMKC.

The School of Medicine’s 15-year-old chapter has been a leader in the national society, particularly advancing ideas for National Patient Solidarity Week. The week, in February each year, is filled with activities that encourage stronger bonds between patients and their physicians, nurses and other care givers. Those activities include making Valentine’s Day cards for patients at Truman Medical Center and distributing them along with roses, and Tell Me More, a program that encourages learning more about patients so they are known as individuals beyond their medical conditions.

Sojourner Clinic honors volunteers

The awards banquet was well attended.

Hundreds of student volunteers were recognized May 8 at the annual Sojourner Clinic Banquet, which was held at the Diastole Scholars’ Center. Students put in more than 1,500 volunteer hours each year treating more than 300 patients in more than 800 patient visits at the clinic, which offers free care to the homeless in downtown Kansas City.

This year’s award winners:

Top Year 1 Volunteer – Harshita Degala
Top Year 2 Volunteers – Madhavi Murali & Alaya Bodepudi
Top Year 3 Volunteer – Koral Shah
Top Year 4 Volunteer – Komal Kumar
Top Year 5 Volunteer – Jessica Wise
Top Year 6 Volunteer – Rahul Maheshwari
Top PA Student Volunteer – Emma Windham
Top Pharmacy Student Volunteer – Katie Tuck
Brook Nelson Award for Leadership – Michele Yang
Ellen Beck Award for Dedication – Imaima Casubhoy
Angela Barnett Award for Humanism – Koral Shah
Dan Purdom Award for Commitment – Eshwar Kishore

The clinic also has a new board for 2018-2019:

Executive Directors: Danielle Terrill and Adithi Reddy
Laboratory Director: Michele Yang
Patient Assistance Program Director: Priyesha Bijlani
Lead Clinic Manager: Elle Glaser
Financial Chair: Rose Puthumana
Clinic Managers: Seenu Abraham, Jessica Wise, Vishnu Harikumar, Antonio Petralia, Tony Cheng, Shipra Singh, Elizabeth Theng, Raga Kilaru, Vijay Letchuman
Main Operations Director: Kavelin Rumalla
Lab Managers: Alaya Bodepudi, Madhavi Murali, Imaima Casubhoy
PA Reps: TBA
Webmasters: Eshwar Kishore, Mrudula Gandham
PR Reps: Sriram Paravastu, Adnan Islam
Secretary: Angela Nwankwo
Pharmacy Liaison: Riddhi M. Ishanpara
Junior Financial Chair: Shruti Kumar

More on the clinic and award winners is here.

Research fellowship yields award-winning results for UMKC medical student Carlee Oakley

Carlee Oakley was recognized for her research project.

UMKC medical student Carlee Oakley is one of only five students nationwide to win a TL1 Top Poster Award for her research. It was presented recently in Washington at a meeting of the Association for Clinical and Translational Science.

Patients with chronic kidney disease have an increased risk for heart disease and heart attacks, and Oakley’s research identified a possible factor in that risk. She found that the chemical TMAO, trimethylamine-N-oxide, found in higher concentrations in kidney patients, increases the force and rate of cardiac contractions.

“I used a mouse model in my first series of experiments,” Oakley said. “To see if our findings translated to the human heart, we were able to test human atrial appendage biopsy tissue. This confirmed that TMAO directly influences human cardiac function.”

The Association for Clinical and Translational Science awarded blue ribbons to 60 research projects, and 57 of them were presented and judged at the conference. Oakley and four others were judged the best and received blue ribbon awards, significant of being in the top 10 percent of entrants.

The contest is part of the Frontiers CTSA TL1 program, a research fellowship. CTSA stands for clinical and translational science awards. Oakley took a year off between her fifth and sixth years of UMKC’s B.A./M.D. program for the fellowship.

“The Frontiers TL1 training fellowship seemed like an incredible opportunity to focus on my research and to supplement my traditional medical education with formal training in clinical research methodology, biostatistics and epidemiology through the Master of Science in Clinical Research program at the University of Kansas Medical Center,” Oakley said. “My research mentor, Dr. Mike Wacker, and my docent, Dr. Jignesh Shah, were both very supportive and encouraged me to apply.”

Oakley added, “We are taught that the best physicians practice evidence-based medicine. I hope to not only practice but to also contribute to evidence-based medicine. My goal is to become a clinician-scientist. I hope research is a vital part of my future practice, though I do not foresee ever giving up the clinical aspect.”

Her initial research used a mouse heart.

Oakley also recently defended her TL1 thesis, completing her fellowship work with honors. She did substantial work on her research with Wacker and other members of his lab team before going into the fellowship. She said David Sanborn, who is set to graduate and start a residency at the Mayo Clinic this summer, helped her with the project along with other members of the Wacker lab. She also collaborated with Dr. Jason Stubbs, a nephrologist and researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Kidney Institute, and a team of cardiac surgeons at the KU Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Research Institute.

Oakley, who plans a career in neurology, said she was drawn to UMKC from Sioux City, Iowa, because she was impressed by the School of Medicine’s six-year program and docent system. She met Wacker during the Human Structure Function course he helps teach and joined his cardiovascular research lab shortly after.

The other top finishers receiving the poster award are from the University of Michigan, Duke University, the University of Colorado-Denver and Georgetown-Howard Universities.

Vision crucial for improving U.S. health care, AOA lecturer says

Steve Miller, M.D. ’88, delivered this year’s AOA Lecture.

Improving U.S. medical care while holding down costs will require vision and innovation. Short-sighted adjustments that perpetuate longstanding ways of practicing medicine won’t bring about the changes needed.

That was the message delivered May 4 by Steve Miller, M.D. ’83, in the 2018 AOA Lecture at the UMKC School of Medicine. Miller is senior vice president and chief medical officer of Express Scripts, a large pharmacy benefits manager based in St. Louis.

Miller used St. Louis to illustrate the importance of vision — and the peril of lacking it. At the turn of the 20th century, St. Louis was the Gateway to the West and a city on the rise. It had the first U.S. skyscraper, the Wainwright Building, and in 1904 the largest World’s Fair ever. But the city was about to be eclipsed because of its decision backin the mid-1850s against building a railroad bridge over the Mississippi River, betting on river travel remaining more important than the promise of a transcontinental railroad.

St. Louis had violated an important principle, letting existing resources limit its vision. And, Miller said, “When you don’t have the right vision, others are going to do something about it.”

Today, Miller said, U.S. health care has the same problem of limited vision, spending far more than other developed countries but without better outcomes. A system designed by physicians for their own convenience has limited innovation, to the point where examining rooms look much as they did 100 years ago, and physicians see about the same number of patients as they did in the early 1900s.

Against that stagnant productivity, he said, 12,000 minute clinics have sprung up, but not with any evidence of better results or lower costs. There’s evidence that, for example, they overprescribe antibiotics and don’t produce better health care. But they are growing, he said, because their hours and convenience are what people want.

Medicine has improved greatly in other ways, Miller said, often involving his company’s area of expertise, pharmaceuticals. For example, he said, better medicines have virtually eliminated operating on peptic ulcers, once among the most common surgeries, and also have greatly reduced the number of heart bypass surgeries.

Miller said his company, Express Scripts, besides managing pharmacy benefits, is also the third largest pharmacy company in the U.S. Its automated pharmacies, he said, have improved convenience and greatly reduced errors in the dispensing of medicines. And as a large benefits manager, his company works to hold down drug prices by increasing pharmaceutical makers’ bidding for its business.

Working to hold down prices is becoming even more important, he said, because the pharmaceuticals being developed now are mainly specialty drugs, with the promise of effectively treating relatively rare illnesses.

So the possibilities are exciting, he said, but vision will be crucial to finding innovative ways to make breakthroughs affordable and accessible for everyone.


Challenges, perils of new media are nothing new in medicine, lecturer says

Jeremy A. Greene, M.D., Ph.D., gave this year’s Noback-Burton Lecture.

History is a valuable lens through which to view and evaluate the risks and opportunities new media pose throughout health care, Jeremy A. Greene, M.D., Ph.D., said April 27 at the UMKC School of Medicine.

Greene, a professor of medicine and the history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, delivered the 2018 Noback-Burton Lecture, titled “The Electronic Patient: Medicine and the Challenge of New Media.”

Among exciting current possibilities, Greene acknowledged the power of smartphones, giving physicians, clinics and millions of patients many ways to bridge distances and track health data. He also noted the World Health Organization’s mHealth initiative, dedicated to using mobile technologies to combat the world’s greatest noncommunicable killers including diabetes, COPD, cancer and heart disease.

But he also noted the “deep well of anxiety” around newer technologies, from threats to privacy to security concerns that were illustrated when a Baltimore hospital was virtually paralyzed by hackers who took down its computer servers.

Greene also argued for using history to evaluate current risks and rewards, and to see that current medicine’s hopes and fears are hardly unique to the 21st century.

New media have long been part of medicine, he said, and have always had wide-ranging effects, but seldom in the ways expected. Some examples:

— The stethoscope at one time was a new medium, “an object of fierce controversy,” through which information from a patient’s heart and lungs was transmitted to the ears of a physician. Medical literature at the time described it as “powerful but dangerous.”

— The telephone profoundly affected medicine, becoming an examination and diagnostic tool for various organs and ailments because of its ability to transmit sound. It also advanced remote medicine; for instance, allowing a physician to hear a child’s cough and lung congestion and determine whether it was croup, requiring immediate attention, or a less severe cough that could be followed up on later.

Telephones also became something of a scourge to physicians and their families as doctors were expected to always be reachable. But predictions that “telephone doctors” would become a whole subspecialty didn’t come to pass, just one example of how new media affect medicine, but seldom as predicted.

— Television, videotaping and the ability to transmit information over coaxial cables also affected medicine and medical education, setting the stage for telemedicine and other innovations.

Dr. Richardson K. Noback talked with Jeremy A. Greene after the lecture.

Greene noted that E. Grey Dimond, M.D., the founder of the UMKC School of Medicine, had made cable part of the school from the outset. The school has long recorded lectures, he noted, making remote and self-directed learning possible. And he said the school’s lecture archives were a great resource for studying the history of medical education.

Outside academia, Greene told about a pioneering telemedicine clinic at Boston’s Logan Airport, which allowed patients there to be “seen” by doctors at Boston Medical Center. The clinic was directed by Dr. Kenneth Bird, who coined the term telemedicine, and came about after some plane crash victims died just three miles from Boston Medical because it took ambulances too long to get through a traffic jam of accident spectators.

Now, Greene said, telemedicine combined with the Internet has made predictions that once seemed like science-fiction come true. But the same was true of the telephone, television and other new media, and such situations probably will keep occurring as technology advances.

In closing, Greene mentioned the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition, designed to produce a portable medical device like those used on “Star Trek.” The latest winner can detect 34 health conditions, with the promise of bringing good health care to a wider population.

No doubt, such technology will change health care, he said, but it’s unclear exactly how. And, unfortunately, technology probably won’t change health care in ways that “reduce the practical and resource-based disparities” that keep care from millions of underserved patients.

This was the third year for the lecture series, endowed by James Riscoe, M.D. ’75, a member of the school’s third graduating class. Riscoe started the event to honor Richardson K. Noback, M.D., the first dean of the School of Medicine, and the late Jerry Burton, M.D. ’73, a classmate who is recognized as the first graduate of the medical school.

Riscoe was on hand to introduce Greene, Noback and Burton’s wife, Patricia G. Burton. The Burtons edited the 2014 book “A Proven Experiment: Looking Back at the UMKC School of Medicine.”