All posts by UMKC Strategic Marketing and Communications

Med school recognized for excellence in diversity, inclusion

The School of Medicine has been recognized by a national publication with a Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for its efforts in diversity.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine has received a 2018 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

The School of Medicine, renowned for its innovative six-year BA/MD program, is the only university program in Missouri and one of 10 medical schools in the country to be recognized. The award program is competitive each year; on average, 175 schools compete for the HEED honor annually.

“Our school is honored to receive the HEED Award,” said Mary Anne Jackson, interim dean. “Diversity and inclusion is top of mind in educating future physicians and health professionals because ultimately it means delivering the best patient care.”

As a recipient of the Health Professions HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing and allied health schools that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — UMKC School of Medicine will be featured, along with 34 other recipients, in the December 2018 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“We want people to see the UMKC School of Medicine as a place of best practices nationally and globally, and the HEED Award signifies one way we demonstrate our success,” said Nathan Thomas, associate dean of diversity and inclusion at the UMKC School of Medicine. “Our aim is to continue to attract outstanding diverse faculty, staff, residents and students to our university.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected the UMKC School of Medicine for several reasons:

  • Its decades-long successful high-school Summer Scholars and Saturday Academy pipeline programs
  • Students in Medicine, Academia, Research and Training (SMART) retention and graduation mentoring program
  • “Expect Respect” committee to address mistreatment issues and promote healthy work and learning environments

The School of Medicine recently received a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources to expand and enhance its pipeline and mentoring programs across the schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy.

In 2016, the UMKC School of Dentistry was one of three dental schools in the that won a HEED Award.

“The Health Professions HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both; continued leadership support for diversity; and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.  “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a Health Professions HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for schools where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus.”

Digital bulletin board enhances campus communication

A new blue and gold kiosk on the sidewalk between the School of Medicine and the Health Sciences Building will provide up-to-date information on university and city services.

The kiosk is one of eight located on UMKC’s Health Sciences and Volker campuses. UMKC is the first university in the U.S. to install the CityPost digital kiosks. Resembling giant smart phones, the kiosks are similar to those along Kansas City’s streetcar route.

“As Kansas City’s university, we are committed to connecting our community to the rich resources available in our city,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. “We’re thrilled to be the first university in the nation to benefit from CityPost kiosks. Leading on the forefront of change and progress fits our vision of what UMKC should be all about. These kiosks are just one visible, tangible indicator of that vision.”

The digital kiosks are part of a communication network that broadcasts real-time, location-based information and alerts to provide safer, better connected public digital solutions. Information is powered by 55-inch smart screens and a companion CityPost mobile application. UMKC CityPost, in partnership with Duke Energy, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Smart City Media LLC of New York, the same creator of the kiosks along the Kansas City streetcar line.

As Kansas City’s university, UMKC was invited to be the first campus site in the U.S. for CityPost. No public or tuition dollars are used to fund the system.

“We are honored to better connect the students and faculty to all the great things at UMKC, and to help build a stronger information bridge from the campus to the greater Kansas City community, said Tom Touchet, CEO of Smart City Media LLC. “CityPost is a connected campus bulletin board and this is UMKC’s very own channel. We look forward to all of the new and innovative communications that our publishing tools will help provide. A college is a small city in itself and nobody understands how better to communicate within it like the students and faculty. We look forward to empowering them to use our new tools, and do new things.”

Using touch-screen technology on the 7-foot-tall UMKC CityPost blue-and-gold kiosks, visitors to campuses can learn more about student services, dining options, UMKC and KC events, where to discover art and whento enjoy sporting events throughout the city. The kiosks also include local news, bike-rental info, walking maps and a selfie app.

“We’re proud to be a part of bringing digital infrastructure solutions to forward looking communities such as UMKC,” added Michael Luhrs, Duke Energy vice president of customer solutions. “We expect our partnership with Smart City Media to significantly accelerate across North America and help enable what smart cities are all about.”

“Rather than hunching over separate mobile phones, students and visitors can explore campus and Kansas City together,” said UMKC Provost Barbara A. Bichelmeyer. “The UMKC CityPost kiosks provide students and visitors the chance to explore campus and Kansas City communally.”

Hospital Hill overcomes weather for another successful run

Nearly 2,900 runners outlasted the weather on June 2 to take part in the 2018 Hospital Hill Run that was sponsored by the UMKC Health Sciences District.

From extreme heat on Friday to high winds and a menacing storm front early Saturday, the weather caused big worries just before the 2018 Hospital Hill Run, sponsored by the UMKC Health Sciences District. But after the starting horn sounded at 7:30 Saturday morning, June 2, cloudy skies and temperatures in the 60s prevailed, making it a good day for the races.

Mid-90s heat caused the usual Friday evening 5K to be pushed to 7 a.m. Saturday, when the 7.7-mile and half-marathon races also were to begin. Because of lightning and a brewing storm, that start time was delayed an additional 30 minutes. But the big storm never materialized along the race routes, and all three runs started and finished in good order at Crown Center.

This was the 45th year for the race, which drew more than 2,800 entrants for its three distances, and the first year for the UMKC Health Sciences District to be the lead sponsor of the race.  Several of the dozen institutions that make up the district also provided the physicians, nurses, students and other health care professionals to staff the medical tent for runners in distress.

The cool weather helped, and just more than 30 runners ended up needing any medical help.

School of Medicine students, residents and faculty joined health care professionals from across Hospitall Hill to man the medical tent at the 2018 Hospital Hill Run.

“We had a very light day in the medical tent,” said Margaret E. “Meg” Gibson, M.D., medical director for the Hospital Hill Run and director of the UMKC Sports Medicine Fellowship. “The cool weather definitely was a big factor. However, we still had runners coming in with hyperthermia, high temperatures, and needed immediate treatment. Most presented with fatigue, muscle cramps, needing ice.”

Gibson, who has worked the race for nine years, said 50 to 100 people needing help on race day is more typical. She and her staff were ready for much worse. The medical tent was stocked with cots, ice packs, bandages and even an iced-down tub to treat the worst cases of overheating.

“We had an excellent team of volunteers that provided excellent care,” said Gibson, who practices in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Truman Medical Center Lakewood. “The medical tent would not be a success without their help. In total, we had 16 students, nine residents and fellows from TMC Lakewood and UMKC, 13 nurses from TMC and the community, and two physical therapists from TMC and one from Children’s Mercy Hospital.”

One of the residents, Cassie From, D.O., packed as much as she could into the morning. She ran the 5K before helping staff the tent.

“I have three kids at home, so I’m used to doing more than one thing at a time, fitting things in when I can,” she said Saturday right after the 5K and before any runners came to the tent needing help. “I wasn’t going to be able to do the race Friday evening because I had to work an overnight shift. But when they moved it to this morning, I had a friend sign me up yesterday. So I worked my shift, came here and ran the race, and now I can help in the tent. This also fills a community service requirement for my residency.”

The unique UMKC Health Sciences District is made up of UMKC; its Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy; Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Truman Medical Centers; the Kansas City (Mo.) Health Department; the Missouri Department of Mental Health Center for Behavioral Medicine; Jackson County Medical Examiner; Diastole Scholars’ Center; and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City.

The Hospital Hill Run was started by E. Grey Dimond, M.D. He also founded the UMKC School of Medicine, which in recent years sponsored the 5K. The UMKC Health Sciences district became the lead sponsor for all the races shortly after the district was founded a year ago.

The race weekend usually draws top runners from around the country, plus many local participants, often from fitness groups. That was the case Saturday for about 15 runners from the Sunday Runday North contingent. They met, stretched, chatted and watched the sky for a while at Crown Center before heading to the starting line.

One member of the group, Matt Kaspar, said this was his first Hospital Hill, and he chose the 7.7-mile race.

“I did a half marathon two weeks ago,” he said, “but this course is more challenging, hillier.”

Perhaps helped by the weather, the division winners in all three races turned in good times.

The first to cross the finish line in the 5K race was Zach Grover, 18, of Lee’s Summit. He won the men’s division in 17:17, followed 13 seconds later by his younger brother, Dylan Grover. Jennifer Butler, 29, of Overland Park, won the women’s division in 22:13. The race had 380 entries.

Zan Johnson, 20, of Olathe, won the men’s division of the 7.7-mile run in 45:12, and Jamie Martens, 42, of Mission, Kansas, won the women’s division in 54:53. That race had 1,004 entries.

An hour and 10 minutes (and 9 seconds) after the starting horn, the half marathon winner crossed the finish line: Austin Bogina, 24, of Arma, Kansas. The women’s division winner, Elle Meyer, 32, finished in 1:21:43. The half marathon had 1,487 entries.

Full race results, along with other information, are available online.

 

School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award Goes to Wes Stricker

Wes Stricker, M.D. ’79, has been selected as the 2018 UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award recipient.

William E. “Wes” Stricker, M.D. ’79, founded and manages Allergy & Asthma Consultants, which has been treating patients in central Missouri for more than 35 years. Additionally, he is the sole shareholder of Ozark Allergy Laboratory and Clinical Research of the Ozarks.

Stricker’s other passion is aviation. He owns Ozark Management, an aviation management company he has used to support academic and athletic departments at Mizzou, charitable missions for Veterans’ Airlift Command and the Special Olympics.

Stricker’s strong allegiance for the U.S. military comes from having served on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Harry S. Truman Commissioning Committee and with the Greenland Expedition Society, an organization dedicated to the discovery and recovery of a flight of WWII fighters lost on the Greenland cap. An active member of the community, Stricker serves on the board of trustees for The Julliard School; as a board member for “The MASTERS,” an emergency relief fund for families of fallen Missouri State Troopers; and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Because of his contribution to health care and serving Missourians, the UMKC Alumni Association will present Stricker with the 2018 School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award.

Stricker recently discussed his career and community service with UMKC:

Where does your passion for medicine come from?

The passion came from watching my father’s caring approach to his patients and observing the respect he earned from an entire community for his efforts. Our parents instilled the desire to succeed academically in all four of their sons, each of whom earned an M.D. including two from UMKC. Mom was valedictorian of her high school class at age 16, earning a college degree from Washington University before the age of 20 at a time when very few women obtained higher educations.

Have you always wanted to be a doctor? What attracted you to UMKC’s six-year med-school program?

I was always torn between becoming a physician, pilot or musician, but determined early in life the best option to remain engaged in all three was to pursue a career in medicine. I played keyboards for the Mizzou studio jazz band while an undergrad along with some gigs as a paid performer in jazz clubs around the city, and also enjoyed part time jobs flying aircraft on weekends during medical school.
I joined the six-year med program at the Year-2 level after spending two years in undergraduate study at Mizzou. The energetic leadership of Dean Richardson Noback and Provost for the Health Sciences, E. Grey Dimond, the hands-on approach with early integration of clinical rotations and the new facilities on Hospital Hill collectively attracted me to the program and away from the traditional—and longer—4 + 4 year programs.

You’ve been treating patients in rural Missouri for more than 35 years. Why are you dedicated to bringing care to rural communities? And why are you an allergist?

I grew up in a rural community (St. James, Missouri), and UMKC’s original mission was to accept students from rural communities in the hope they would return to practice. So I accepted their challenge to return home, as it never made sense to practice in a large city with an allergist on every corner when one could be the only allergist within a hundred miles in every direction.

I suffered from an allergic disease as a child, so becoming an allergist was the best way to “get even” and ease the suffering of my allergic patients. My mentor was T. Reed Maxson, an allergist in rural (at the time) Warrensburg, where I took one of my first clinical electives from UMKC.

Mid-Missouri ranks among the top 10 states in the USA for the highest levels of pollen and mold, exposure which contributes to the development and progression of allergic disease. Farmland, pasture and the “100-acre woods” produce a lot more pollen and mold than the concrete and buildings found in urban areas.

Interim Dean Appointed at School of Medicine

Mary Anne Jackson, MD
Mary Anne Jackson, MD

Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., has been appointed interim dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Her appointment will begin July 1.

Jackson is a 1978 alum of UMKC’s innovative six-year degree program and has been a faculty member since 1984. She is a professor of pediatrics with a specialization in infectious diseases, holding a clinical appointment with Children’s Mercy, one of the school’s partners in the UMKC Health Sciences District.

Jackson is internationally respected for her impressive record of scholarly achievement. She serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Red Book Committee on Infectious Diseases, a publication that provides guidance on the diagnosis, treatment, manifestations and epidemiology of more than 200 childhood conditions. She is a journal reviewer for American Journal of Infection Control, Journal of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal and JAMA Pediatrics, among many other research publications.

Jackson has won numerous awards for her mentorship including the Children’s Mercy Department of Pediatrics Excellence in Mentoring award in 2015, and Golden Apple Mentoring Awards in 2012 for mentoring fellows and 2013 for residents. In 2012, she received a Take Wing Award, presented annually at the School of Medicine to one who has demonstrated excellence in his or her chosen field and exceeded the expectations of peers in the practice of medicine, academic medicine or research.

In 2017, Jackson was selected to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee. She also serves on the American Heart Association’s Committee on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young as well as numerous additional national, regional and local committees.

Steven L. Kanter, M.D., who served as dean since 2014, is leaving UMKC this summer for an international leadership opportunity in academic health in Washington, D.C. He will be president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Association of Academic Health Centers and the Association of Academic Health Centers International.

SOM’s Berkley-Patton receives UM-System President’s Award

Interim Chancellor Barbara Bichelmeyer (left) presented the University of Missouri System President’s Award to Jannette Berkley-Patton, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health informatics.

Interim Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer recently recognized Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health informatics, with the University of Missouri System President’s Award on behalf of University of Missouri System President Mun Choi.

Berkley-Patton received the President’s Award for Cross Cultural Engagement. It recognizes faculty who demonstrate success in promoting cross-cultural activities or understanding through classroom or student service activities, or through direct service to global or regional efforts that relate back to the university.

“Dr. Berkley-Patton is highly regarded by the community she serves,” said Daphne Bascom, medical director and senior vice president of Community Integrated Health for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. “She has established durable collaborations and relationships with churches, community clinics and other health related agencies to support cross-cultural activities in the region. As she has grown her research program she has been intentional in providing opportunities to involve her community partners in defining the goals and outcomes for each project.”

The majority of Berkley-Patton’s research funding supports her faith-based and health community partners with staff, equipment and training to improve the community’s capacity to address health. Berkley-Patton values collaborations within the community and has been a leader in researching community-based health interventions to reduce HIV, diabetes, heart disease and mental health disparities among the African-American community.

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. Berkley-Patton will be formally recognized by UM System President Choi during an awards celebration in June.

 

Donors set sights on work at Vision Research Center

Situated prominently on the corner of 21st and Charlotte is UMKC School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Research Center, a bustling center of excellence within the new UMKC Health Sciences District. Yet, even with the cutting-edge research and advanced academics taking place under its roof, many are unaware of the critical position it plays in improving the treatment of eye disease for people in our community and beyond.

Nelson Sabates, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and co-director of the Vision Research Center, is working to heighten the facility’s recognition and its continued efforts to offer the most advanced academic environment for teaching the next generation of ophthalmologists.

Two recent gifts from donors, one from the estate of Mary Adams and the other from an anonymous contributor, are helping to make this goal possible by supporting basic science research being conducted by UMKC faculty members, Peter Koulen, Ph.D., and Karl Kador, Ph.D.

“These gifts will have a significant impact on our ability to provide newer and longer lasting treatments for patients diagnosed with glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy,” Sabates. “We are grateful to have been chosen by these donors as the recipients of their generous contributions to our mission of ensuring patients receive the most advanced medical treatments available.”

Both researchers are working to develop new therapy approaches urgently needed by physicians worldwide to better diagnose, prevent, and treat eye disease and vision disorders.

Koulen, the Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research and Director of Basic Research at the Vision Research Center, focuses on therapy development for chronic diseases of the eye and brain. Kador’s research focuses on creating three-dimensional models of the retina that can be used to understand how retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) integrate and form synapses (the point at which a nervous impulse passes from one neuron to another) with their binding partners within the retina. He and his lab are working to develop a functional cell source and transplantation method to treat optic neuropathies such as glaucoma and optic nerve stroke.

“Having an endowed chair in vision research has been instrumental in our ability to conduct research at UMKC and, in order to continue moving forward, we need to raise additional funds for a second endowed chair,” Sabates said.

Sabates will join the UMKC Foundation Board of Directors in July and is resolute in seeing a new health sciences building become a reality.

“I, along with many others, am a true advocate for advancing UMKC’s combined health sciences with a modern, functional space where faculty and students can have access to the latest technologies,” he said. “I am excited to be a voice for the health sciences arena at UMKC.”

Built on a 50-year history, UMKC’s Department of Ophthalmology and the Vision Research Center look to opportunities for future growth in research, education, prevention, treatment and outreach.

Kansas City’s leading health-care institutions team up to create UMKC Health Sciences District

UMKC’s health sciences community and surrounding hospitals are part of a newly created UMKC Health Sciences District announced Friday, May 19.

With a collaboration unlike any other in the nation, many of Kansas City’s leading health-care institutions announced today that they have agreed to align more closely to form the UMKC Health Sciences District. The newly created district combines the unique expertise and services of 10 partners to spur research and community outreach in service of the Kansas City region and beyond.

The UMKC Health Sciences District includes:

The UMKC Health Sciences District is unlike any other in the nation. It is one of 18 areas in the country that have public schools of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and nursing in one location along with a children’s hospital and an adult, acute-care hospital. But by including a health department, the medical examiner and a mental health center that bring together agencies of the city, county and state, the UMKC Health Sciences District is one of a kind.

Drawing on these institutions’ efforts, the UMKC Health Sciences District has the potential to enhance collaboration on research and grant requests; combine efforts on community outreach; improve faculty recruitment; coordinate area parking, safety and transportation; and create shared opportunities in health and wellness for more than 16,000 health professionals, faculty members and students.

“We have all worked together already for a long time, and worked very well together, but today we are opening a new chapter,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “Today, we will sign an agreement designed to stimulate economic growth and job creation, attract new talent to Kansas City, create shared opportunities in health and wellness, and improve opportunities for recruiting and neighborhood outreach.”

“Better functioning health-care teams provide better patient care. Interprofessional education means educating future physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and other health-care professionals to work effectively as members of those teams so that patients get the best and safest care possible,” said Steven L. Kanter, M.D., Dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. Kanter will serve as the first executive director of a newly-formed Health Sciences District Board.

“The UMKC Health Sciences District is the perfect environment for students, scientists and health-care professionals to work and learn together as they deliver top-quality, personalized health care,” Kanter said.

“This District is a collaboration among dedicated organizations determined to improve the health and wellness of people in Kansas City—and across the United States,” said Charlie Shields, President and Chief Executive Officer of Truman Medical Centers and University Health. “We believe that as the UMKC Health Sciences District, we will be able to stimulate collaboration in research, advance interprofessional education and foster communication. Those are the steps necessary to developing the kind of innovations that will shape the health care of the future.”

“Children’s Mercy is proud to be a part of this one-of-a-kind District, celebrating the collective spirit of innovation, research and discovery that drives our collaborative quest for answers, new treatments and cures,” said Randall L. O’Donnell, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Mercy. “And while today’s announcement focuses on the organizations within the boundaries of this District, the resulting impact of our work together will benefit every corner of our city and touch families throughout the region and the nation.”

The UMKC Health Sciences District will be governed by a board composed of approximately 20 members, including two from each institution. The board will also appoint a chair for a two-year period beginning July 1, 2018. The chair will rotate among the following participants in the following order: UMKC, TMC and CMH. The first chair, who will serve a two-year term, will be the UMKC Chancellor. The executive director of the District will serve a three-year term.

The District is about two miles in circumference and will be bound on the north by 20th Street; south by 25th Street; west by Oak Street; and east by U.S. 71 South.

UMKC, TMC and Children’s Mercy Win $930K Grant from CDC

cdc550The University of Missouri-Kansas City, Truman Medical Centers (TMC) and Children’s Mercy have won a quality-improvement grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for diagnostic laboratory testing at TMC. The three-year grant, which will use Cerner Health Facts data, is funded up to $930,000.

“The methods developed through this project will demonstrate value of both local and national medical data warehouses to inform quality improvement initiatives related to laboratory medicine,” said Mark Hoffman, primary investigator on the grant. Hoffman is chief research information officer at Children’s Mercy and is a faculty member in biomedical and health informatics and pediatrics at the UMKC School of Medicine. Kamani Lankachandra, chair of pathology at UMKC and the director of the pathology lab at TMC, is a co-investigator.

Diagnostic laboratory testing results are used in 60 to 70 percent of all clinical decisions. While laboratories have strong procedures to manage process-quality concerns within the lab, they often do not have access to reliable information related to test ordering or the use of test results to inform patient treatment.

Electronic health record data is increasingly used to populate local data warehouses, including those implemented using the National Institutes of Health-funded “informatics for integrating biology and the bedside” application, often shortened to i2b2. Some electronic health record vendors, including Cerner, manage national data warehouses populated with de-identified data from contributors that have provided data rights. Electronic health record data merged with laboratory information system data can provide diagnostic laboratories with information needed to better understand quality gaps, especially those related to test ordering and patient treatment informed by laboratory results.

TMC and their primary academic partner, UMKC, have collaborated with Cerner to implement i2b2 as a de-identified analytical data warehouse reflecting local clinical processes at TMC. And through this collaboration, UMKC has received a full copy of the Cerner Health Facts national data warehouse; few academic research centers in the world have access to this vast amount of medical data.

The de-identified data in Health Facts represents more than 600 inpatient and outpatient facilities and health care decisions for more than 47 million unique patients. Significantly, Health Facts includes more than 3 billion diagnostic laboratory results and more than 350 million medication orders.

UMKC will use the combination of i2b2 and Health Facts to prioritize up to 10 laboratory- related quality gaps, informed by insights from the practice-based evidence in Health Facts. TMC’s i2b2 data will be utilized to evaluate baseline status for candidate quality improvement projects. The prioritization phase will use Health Facts to characterize the severity of the quality gaps at TMC.

This project will provide methods that will enable TMC to develop quality improvement initiatives that are prioritized and designed using these data sources.

Health professions, law schools team up to help older Kansas Citians with aid of national grant

UMKC LOGOUniversity of Missouri-Kansas City health professions schools — the School of Nursing and Health Studies, School of Dentistry, School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy — and the School of Law were awarded a national grant to work together to advocate for older adults at the Don Bosco Senior Center and Reconciliation Services, both located in medically underserved areas in Kansas City.

By the year 2030, the U.S. population age 65 and older is expected to double, making older adults the fastest-growing group in the nation. Yet the vast majority of curriculum for health professions students does not include specific instruction dedicated to the needs of geriatric health. Designed for UMKC advanced practice nursing and graduate medical, dental, pharmacy and law students, the project will focus on enhancing active listening and empathic understanding in preparing student teams to advocate for older adults.

The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and the Gordon and Betty More Foundation, awarded a two-year, $50,000 matching grant to the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. Through matching funds from the partnering schools, this $100,000 project is one of 16 out of 44 universities to be awarded.

“This creative collective breathes new life into our pedagogical approach to educating health professionals,” said Ann Cary, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

“The proposed initiative will not only help to advance interprofessional education and interprofessional collaboration through bringing together medical, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy and law students, but will also address an important need, which is to increase health and law professional students’ knowledge and understanding of the health care and legal issues experienced by aged individuals,” said Steven L. Kanter, dean of the School of Medicine.

“The project is consistent with the mission of the health professions schools to promote excellence in delivering interprofessional curricular opportunities for students,” said Russ Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy.

“The project will improve our graduates’ ability to form relationships with other health care professionals while developing an understanding of the issues facing an aging populace,” said Marsha Pyle, dean of the School of Dentistry.

“The project design, which is to capture the lived experiences of aging and access to care, will serve a diverse elder population, the majority of who come from the lowest economic level,” said Mo Orphin, executive director of the Don Bosco Center.

“This initiative will be an important educational experience for UMKC health and law students, and will benefit our clients through the health education plans that will result from this innovative partnership,” said the Rev. Justin Mathews, executive director of Reconciliation Services.

Titled, Cultivating an Empathic Understanding of Aging: An Interprofessional Approach to Enhanced Provider-Patient Relationships as the Cornerstone of Person-Centered Care, this initiative will accomplish the following goals:

  • Establish a community of practice among health professions and law students to allow for the acquisition of new knowledge through team interaction toward excellence in patient care.
  • Improve provider-patient relationships with older adults by developing health professions and law students’ abilities to capture an individual’s story about aging and the illness experience.
  • Improve acceptance of patients of all ages by sensitizing practitioners to age-based stereotyping that interferes with provider-patient engagement.
  • Increase empathic understanding and collaboration among health professions and law students to foster their ability and willingness to participate in public service as advocates for older adults.

“UMKC and its professional schools are uniquely positioned to focus on issues relating to gerontology across disciplines,” said Ellen Suni, dean of the School of Law. “This project will promote collaboration and recognition of interdisciplinary solutions to health problems while promoting students’ inclination toward public service.”

“We are all readers and translators of the narrative of others,” said Margaret Brommelsiek, principal investigator of the grant at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. “Interprofessional education helps students foster their skills in reading and narrating. The most skilled communicators tell a story that can be understood by both the individual patient as well as those involved across the health professions.”