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Returning and new students express excitement for the semester’s start

It was move in day for UMKC students at the Hospital Hill Apartments and the Oak Place Apartments on the Volker Campus.
It was move in day for UMKC students at the Hospital Hill Apartments and the Oak Place Apartments on the Volker Campus.

For three days, cars lined the streets around the University of Missouri-Kansas City Volker and Health Sciences campuses as 1,500 students moved into apartments and residence halls. All in preparation for the 2016-17 academic year, which starts Aug. 22.

Nearly 750 returning, transfer and graduate students moved into Oak Place Apartments and Hospital Hill Apartments on Aug. 17.

Jessica Swaim, UMKC School of Pharmacy student, arrived early on the first day. From Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Swain didn’t have far to drive as she begins her second year. “I’m looking forward to learning more about pharmacy and getting more involved in student organizations.”

Vincent Gover had a nine-hour drive from Texas. He’s a first year doctoral composition student at theUMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. Originally from Maryland, Gover chose UMKC because of the Conservatory’s reputation. A meeting with Conservatory Professor Paul Rudy impressed him the most. After meeting other professors and learning about the great things Conservatory students do, Gover said he was hooked. “I wanted to tap into that.”

Junior transfer student Carl Redmon II bubbled with excitement as he moved into his apartment. Redmon received an associate’s degree at another institution and lived at home. Now, he’s looking forward to “the whole college experience by living on campus.”

When choosing a school to continue his education in psychology, Redmon chose UMKC because he wanted to move from his home city of St. Louis without being too far away.

Returning to the UMKC Conservatory is sophomore music therapy student Helena Collins-Gravitt.

Collins-Gravitt plays the bass, but will take time this year to learn how to play the guitar for her music therapy program. “I’m looking forward to the specialized courses for my degree.”

Dominique Liddell, junior UMKC School of Education student, is from Kansas City, Kansas. She’s looking forward to specializing in early childhood development. Liddell unpacked with confidence and ease because she’s been through the routine before. And with her goals in sight, she’s ready get down to work. “I’m really excited.”

Chloe Rickett-Gay, junior business marketing student from St. Louis, is looking forward to being an upperclassman and taking classes related to her major. As with Liddell and others, she’s been through the routine before and brought comfort items. For Rickett-Gay, those items are plush blankets and lots of them. “It’s serious!”

Many parents were just as excited. Dana Crowder, sophomore pre-nursing student from Salina, Kansas, had help from her mom as she moved into her apartment. Crowder’s mother, Chanel Thomas, had glowing remarks for her daughter’s choice of college. “Everything is tailored to the student.” As a parent, Thomas said she appreciated UMKC’s focus on student success.

Parental encouragement in choosing UMKC was also key for Shae Perry, sophomore communications and journalism student from St. Louis. Her mom encouraged her to come to UMKC and get out on her own.

“I’m looking forward to a great year,” Perry said. Things will be busy for her, though, as Perry will soon start a new job as promotion director with K-ROO Radio. And, when asked what one item she couldn’t come to college without, she replied, “A full-length mirror.”

With emotions even higher at Oak Street Hall on Aug. 18, freshman students in the six-year medical degree program at the UMKC School of Medicine navigated the maze of suitcases, boxes and clothes lining the sidewalks.

August Frank, O’Fallon, Missouri., is looking forward to becoming a doctor and everything that leads up to it. Although he was nervous, he also was eager to start the next chapter of his life.

“This is your first big adult thing to do,” Frank said. Making the choice to attend UMKC was just the beginning. “The six-year medical program is something you can’t pass up.”

Rave reviews for UMKC’s six-year medical program was common for the first-year students. Valerie Kirtley, Chicago, said she knew a six-year medical program was right for her.  A visit to Kansas City solidified her choice.

“I fell in love with Kansas City,” Kirtley said. “UMKC is really friendly.”

Although she expressed feelings of stress and anxiety, Kirtley also welcomed it all. “It’s going to be a hard six years, but good.”

Derek Wang, Columbia, Missouri, is looking forward to getting to know people and starting college.

“I’ve always been interested in science,” Wang said. And, Wang wants to give back to the community. Becoming a doctor is his way to do that. “I can serve people as best I can.”

The last day of UMKC Move-In, Aug. 19, was a whirlwind with an endless line of vehicles along Oak Street as more freshmen and returning students moved into Johnson Hall and Oak Street Hall. If tears were shed, it was done in private. Smiles and expressions of joy calmed the nerves of students and families. And as with the previous day, boxes and bags were taken from cars, piled into carts and hauled to student rooms with help from the UMKC student volunteer moving crew — Roo Haul.

Roo Haul volunteers also helped calm jittery nerves for students such as Shaina Vinyard. Their advice to the freshman from Excelsior Springs, Missouri: Get involved. Vinyard plans to do just that. As a chemistry major focused on getting into the UMKC School of Dentistry, she’s looking forward to meeting new people and getting involved in the many campus activities.

Hannah Ailes also got help with heavy lifting from Roo Haul volunteers, and from her family. It took three vehicles to bring her things from Oronago, Missouri. After expressing relief that everything fit in her room, Ailes will start unpacking and preparing for her studies as a studio art major. She’s looking forward to taking business courses, as part of her minor, and getting out and about.

“I like coming to big cities because there’s so much to do,” Ailes said.

Cara Nordengren traveled a little further: from West Des Moines, Iowa. She was drawn to the city and the small campus.

“I like Kansas City,” Nordengren said.

Nordengren is a sophomore with a double major in art history and criminology/criminal justice, and a minor in psychology. She’s looking forward to having a busy semester with an independent study with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Go to for more photos of move in day at UMKC.

Services announced for Dr. Mark Friedell

Mark Friedell, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Mark Lowry Friedell, M.D., F.A.C.S., died late Sunday, July 10.

Dr. Friedell came to the UMKC School of Medicine in 2012, where he had served as professor and chair of the Department of Surgery.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Beloit College and his medical degree from the University of Bologna in Italy, followed by a residency at University of Massachusetts Medical Center and fellowship at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Prior to joining UMKC, he was a clinical associate professor of surgery at the University of Central Florida, academic chair of surgical education for Orlando Regional Healthcare/Orlando Health and program director of general surgery for Orlando Health.

A celebration of life will be held 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 17 at Orlando County Club, Orlando, Forida. In lieu of flowers, donations are request to: Level 1 Trauma Center, Orlando Regional Medical Center,, in memory of Dr. Friedell.

Physician Leadership Program: Providing business acumen to grow health care leaders into effective change makers

UMKC LOGOWhen Angeline Stanislaus, M.D., became chief medical officer for adults for the Missouri Department of Mental Health in 2014, she recognized a need for further education to support her new role. After researching programs, she decided to apply to the UMKC Physician Leadership Program to expand her business acumen.

Though working in a senior leadership role while taking the program was challenging, Dr. Stanislaus found it more meaningful. “The experience opened my mind to look at leadership with a wider lens,” she said. “A culture of an organization needs to change for the change to be sustained. That was something I truly gained after attending the program.”

In her current position, Dr. Stanislaus provides leadership and mentors the department clinical staff. She also promotes top quality care, department-wide policy, and professional, clinical and ethical values and standards. Now that she’s completed the Physician Leadership Program, she is able to better understand and incorporate the workplace culture in her work, making her a more effective leader.

“Leading others requires a set of tools that I received through the Physician Leadership Program,” she said. “We focused on planning, building teams, process management and other skills that are different than the work I did as a forensic psychiatrist.”

Before accepting her executive leadership role at the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Dr. Stanislaus practiced forensic psychiatry for 14 years. She earned her medical degree from Tirunelveli Medical College, Madurai Kamaraj University in India, and completed her residency in psychiatry with a fellowship in forensic psychiatry from Southern Illinois University. She has also worked as a consultant, professor, corrections psychiatrist and in private practice. While she credits this diverse experience in helping her become a chief medical officer, she says her education through the Physician Leadership Program gave her the tools to be an effective change maker and leader.

Applications are being accepted for the UMKC Physician Leadership Program, which begins in April 2017. It is a partnership between the UMKC School of Medicine and the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. It is designed to provide comprehensive management skills that will prepare physicians to successfully fulfill the leadership requirements of 21st century health-care delivery. The application deadline is February 3, 2017.

For more information about the program, visit the website.

UMKC student researchers find health hazards associated with marijuana use

Kavelin Rumalla and Adithi Reddy

For generations, marijuana has been the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. It is considered to have so few adverse effects that Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized marijuana, and more states are considering decriminalization.

However, results of a study by two second-year University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine students, Kavelin Rumalla and Adithi Y. Reddy, and Manoj K. Mittal M.D., an assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, turn the notion upside down. Their study, published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences, found that recreational use of marijuana increases the likelihood of hospitalization for acute ischemic stroke by 17 percent.

The report concludes that a lack of high-level evidence regarding the adverse effects of marijuana usage on cerebrovascular health has permitted the false notion that recreational marijuana is safe.

“While we are politically neutral on the topic of marijuana, we believe society deserves to know about its potential health consequences,” said Rumalla, lead author on the manuscript.

Ischemic stroke is typically caused by plaque build up in arteries inside the skull or from blood clots that move from the body to the brain. It is the leading cause of long-term disability and the third-leading cause of death in the United States, affecting nearly 800,000 Americans a year.

Rumalla and Reddy investigated the relationship between marijuana use and hospitalization for ischemic stroke using data collected between 2004 and 2011 from the largest hospital inpatient database in the United States. Their report, “Recreational marijuana use and acute ischemic stroke: A population-based analysis of hospitalized patients in the United States,” says the incidence of ischemic stroke was significantly greater among marijuana users than non-users, particularly in the 25- to 34-year-old age group.

“There’s a gap in public knowledge about the health effects of marijuana,” said Reddy. “The challenge is that it’s difficult to research marijuana in a widespread prospective clinical study because it is illegal in most parts of the country. This makes epidemiological studies like ours even more important at this point in time.”

The study compared the incidence of stroke among 2,496,165 marijuana users and 116,163,453 non-users. It concluded that marijuana use was independently associated with an increased likelihood of hospitalization for stroke among adults ages 15 to 54.

The research also supported the notion that marijuana is a gateway drug, as users are more likely to also use other substances including tobacco and cocaine.

“That’s even more hazardous to health when combined with marijuana use,” Rumalla said.

The aftermath of a stroke can include weakness, numbness and stiffness physically; emotional experiences, changes and problems; and the process of thinking, remembering and recognizing things can become challenging, according to the National Stroke Association.

“This is important research,” said Steven L. Kanter, dean of the UMKC School of Medicine and a neurosurgeon. “The prevailing thought about marijuana use is that there aren’t that many side effects. But this study shows us that recreational marijuana usage independently associates with hospitalizations for stroke. And life after a stroke can be most difficult.”

School of Medicine student competes on ‘Jeopardy!’

Third-year medical student Kent Buxton appears on the television game show, “Jeopardy!” with host Alex Trebek.

Kent Buxton, a third-year student, made his debut on the game show “Jeopardy!” on Monday, March 28. The appearance fulfills a longtime dream for Buxton, who is studying to become an emergency medicine physician.

“I’ve wanted to be on Jeopardy since I was in high school playing quiz bowl at Notre Dame (in Cape Girardeau, MO),” Buxton said.

He finished third in Monday’s contest. Only the winner advances to the next day’s show.

That “Jeopardy!” seed might have been planted much earlier. Buxton’s fun-fact story on the show involves his father accidentally training him to compete by drilling him on the names of the 50 states and their capitals when he was only about 3 years old.

Buxton tried out for the “Jeopardy!” college tournament in 2008, and got an audition in Chicago, but did not make it. Once Buxton was eligible for the adult show, he took his time pursuing “Jeopardy!” again.

“I figured it was better to wait until I was older since many competitors have a lot more life experiences that could help on the show,” Buxton said.

Buxton taught for a several years, and served as a medical scribe in St. Louis hospitals before starting medical school at UMKC. He took the Jeopardy online test this past April, and auditioned June 30 at Crown Center.

“I had to skip one of my classes and write a five-page research paper as a make-up assignment in order to attend, but I was able to walk from school to the audition,” he said. There, he took a written test and played a practice round.

In December, Buxton got the call he had been accepted.

“I was beyond excited,” he said. “I flew to L.A. to tape the show two days before a microbiology exam that I wasn’t totally prepared for.”

Buxton said his heart raced during the taping but he eventually settled down. He joked around with host Alex Trebek: “What was it like being shoved into a phone booth with Shaq?”

“I cannot say how the game turned out, but I had a ton of fun,” Buxton said before the show aired on March 28.

“Jeopardy!” is in its 32nd season in syndication, with 25 million viewers tuning in each week. Contestants participate in three rounds of trivia in which they give their responses in the form of a question. At the end of each show, the winner is named and that person returns in the next episode to defend his or her title as returning champion.

School of Medicine sets aside day to recognize residents, fellows

The School of Medicine will take a day to recognize its residents and fellows with the first Resident/Fellow Appreciation Day on Feb. 25.

Colleagues cheered on Joanne “Jo” Marasigan, a second-year orthopedic resident at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, in a crutches/walker/wheelchair relay race. “Go Flo-Jo!”

Marasigan and 20 of her physician-in-training colleagues also competed in casting and suturing competitions, using medical guidelines, in an OrthOlympics, all part of a pilot program conceptualized by the UMKC School of Medicine to create a National Resident/Fellow Appreciation Day Feb. 25.

“It’s a great idea because every health profession gets a day of recognition,” Marasigan said between jovial competitions. “We get lumped in with other doctors but really, we’re a subset of doctors who work much longer hours. There’s a lot at stake here: a day off as the gold medal.”

There are more than 120,000 residents and fellows — physicians in training — in the United States. Called housestaff, residents and fellows work long hours, typically up to 80 per week, at a much lower salary than healthcare professionals who have completed training. Marasigan’s colleague, James Barnes, M.D., developed the idea for a national recognition day after seeing other healthcare professions honored.

“UMKC has over 400 physicians in training who contribute nearly 1.5 million hours a year to serve patients and gain practical experience and expertise,” said Barnes, the UMKC Housestaff Council President and event organizer. “To our knowledge, there is no national day designated to recognize this unique set of healthcare workers.”

As institutional sponsor of the residency and fellowship programs, the UMKC School of Medicine and clinical training partners including Truman Medical Centers, Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Children’s Mercy, Center for Behavioral Medicine and Kansas City VA Medical Center are participating with catered meals, snacks, banners, gifts and special events to recognize the residents and fellows.

Various departments are celebrating in unique ways, such as hula dancing and yoga sessions for the Department of Emergency Medicine. Several departments are having catered on-site pancakes, and Barnes’ department, Orthopedic Surgery, held the “OrthOlympics.”

Barnes is also conducting a research project in collaboration with faculty mentor and Orthopedic Program Director, James Bogener, M.D., on the effects of the recognition and appreciation on residents/fellows. Barnes and Bogener are conducting a survey to gauge residents’ and fellows’ thoughts on the day and how it affects their perception of the workplace and their satisfaction.

This event has been made possible through the facilitation of the UMKC School of Medicine Housestaff Council and the Council on Graduate Medical Education. The UMKC councils’ goal is to present the event to national organizations including the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), American Medical Association (AMA) and American Osteopathic Association (AOA) to make Resident and Fellow Appreciation Day a day of recognition nationally for all residents and fellows.

“We are proud, but not surprised, that our residents and fellows at the UMKC School of Medicine conceptualized this important event,” said Steven L. Kanter, M.D., dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. “We look forward to celebrating their critical contributions as integral members of the patient-care team.”


Symposium places focus on interprofessional education

School of Medicine faculty members Brett Ferguson, D.D.S, chair of oral and maxillofacial surgery (second from left), and Mark Steele, M.D. ’80, chief medical officer and COO of Truman Medical Centers (middle), took part in a panel discussion on interprofessional education.

Faculty from the UMKC Health Sciences Campus at Hospital Hill recently attended the Fourth Annual Interprofessional Education Symposium: Building a Bridge Between Education and Practice in the Bloch Executive Hall Auditorium.

The UMKC Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy continue to emphasize interprofessional education in curriculum through large-scale instructional activities and at clinics through team grants.

Attendees said they want to increase the infusion of team education and practice in the curriculum because it is best for patient care.

“Hospitals are the third leading cause of death, and when you say that out loud, it’s frightening,” said Karen Cox, executive vice president and COO at Children’s Mercy, a panel speaker at the event. “That’s why we have to work together. We may be different, but not that different.”

Other panel speakers included Mark Steele, chief medical officer and COO at Truman Medical Centers; Tony Huke, clinical manager and residency director at Truman Medical Centers; Brett Ferguson, chair of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Truman Medical Centers; and Felicia Menefee, chief nursing officer ambulatory care at Saint Luke’s Hospital. Mattie Schmitt, professor emerita at University of Rochester, was the keynote speaker.

Donald Bowman, a patient, provided his perspective.

“Remember that an important member of an interprofessional team is the patient,” he said. “It’s important that team members, though they are likely to change, communicate deeply and thoroughly with their colleagues and show me that they care.”

UMKC students study medicine In Mumbai

School of Medicine students Divya Igwe and Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan took part in a recent trip to India to study the Indian healthcare system.
School of Medicine students Divya Igwe and Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan took part in a recent trip to India to study the Indian healthcare system.

Each one had a different question – and each one found the hoped-for answer.

Four University of Missouri-Kansas City students – Divya Igwe and Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan, School of Medicine fourth-year students; and Joe Jeffrey and Tim Williams, pre-med seniors in the School of Biological Sciences – went to Mumbai, India, to shadow surgeons and clinicians and observe the Indian healthcare system.

For Tim, who is drawn to international medicine and organizations like Doctors Without Borders, the trip could help him resolve any self-doubt about his decision.

Joe was also considering public health, and knew that the treatments and surgical procedures he would see would be anything but routine. Was he prepared?

For Vaishnavi, the experience might answer her questions about self-confidence and relating well to patients.

And Divya believed she was self-reliant and independent, but would those qualities stand up in trying situations?

Ted White, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Biological Sciences, promoted the service learning opportunity, particularly the chance to see real-life medical procedures in the operating theatres. It was also an ideal time for a reality check.

Mumbai is India’s most populous city and in many ways is a typical modern urban scene. It is home to more than 21 million people, and it is also India’s financial capital. There, as it is throughout India, education is valued and supported. Women make up about half of the medical students in India, although there are few male nurses. American influence is seen everywhere, in fashion, entertainment and shopping.

But there the similarities end.

In a city such as Mumbai, there is no “personal space.” Air conditioning is for the wealthy few. Bottled water is the prudent choice, even for brushing teeth. Other students advised Tim and Joe that the food was not always to their liking, so Tim had filled a carryon with snacks for just such emergencies.

Joe and Tim were in a group of nine students visiting in July. Their first impressions were shaped by the unending stream of people walking, driving, riding elephants and scooting around in the omnipresent auto-rickshaws. And dogs everywhere – not pets, just dogs wandering the streets, the shops, even the upper floors of the hospitals.

Joe did not expect the local people to openly stare at him; but, tall and fair, Joe stood out in almost any crowd. And in an area where tourists were rare, he was a still greater rarity. Sometimes, people shyly approached him to offer food or drink.

Divya and Vaishnavi spent the month of June in Mumbai, part of a group of five.

As they traveled to their assigned hospitals and interacted with patients, Divya’s admiration for the Indian education process grew. She noted that Indian schools made provisions to give students the education most suited to their talents.

Vaishnavi’s adjustment was not as challenging as it was for the others. She felt a sense of comfort when she arrived in India, her parents’ birthplace and a “second home” where she had visited often since she was two months old. She was accustomed to the different standard of living, able to cope without air conditioning and other conveniences that Americans take for granted. Coinciding with her trip, her family was there for a cousin’s coming-of-age ceremony.

For Divya, it was often unsettling to be in the minority. Despite being a woman of Indian-Nigerian heritage whose name is Indian, she sometimes felt ignored in groups. After watching local Mumbai TV shows featuring light-skinned heroes and dark villains, she had a moment of clarity:  in a nation where all people were people of color, skin tone was used by some to set them apart. Others in Divya’s group felt the same sense of exclusion.

These feelings gave Divya a new-found respect for her own mother’s journey. An Indian by birth, her mother had little in the way of material goods or possessions. Still, she made her way. Her mother’s self-determination and personal freedom stood in contrast to the subservience Divya saw in some Indian women

Joe and Tim’s group was assigned to a Sanjeevani Hospital, where they would make rounds and observe surgeries. India has tiered  hospital options:  private hospitals in cities, private hospitals in rural areas, and government-run hospitals in both.

The surgeries they witnessed were far from routine. In many cases, the patient did not have dependable transportation or the finances to seek treatment, and only arrived at the hospital when the condition was advanced.

In India, medicine sometimes clashes with cultural mores and complicated traditions. Dr. Datar, an academic advisor, told Tim’s group that it was illegal to tell prospective parents the sex of their baby. Sonograms could be misused by parents who preferred sons to daughters and might abort a female fetus. And yet, during religious observations or festivals, doctors made accommodations for their patients’ cultural practices, such as fasting or praying.

Another difference is the practice of telling the family what the diagnosis is before the patient is informed. Usually, one member of a family speaks for everyone; but they all hear the options and offer opinions as to what’s best. In Indian hospitals, “Do Not Resuscitate” is illegal.  The staff is obligated to provide care to the patient while they are in the hospital, although the family might ask the physicians not to give their “best effort.”

Shadowing Dr. Agrawal was eye-opening for the American students. His case load was very large and most of his patients’ illnesses were serious. But by the end of the day, which sometimes ran until 11 p.m., he was able to reconstruct the particulars of each case and make careful notes about what he found and what he prescribed.

The level of care seemed equivalent to what one would find in an American hospital. Vaishnavi saw some advantages to the high numbers of patients seen in the Mumbai clinics.

“We might see these ailments once,” she said, “but the Indian physicians see them constantly. So they are not intimidated by the difficulty or the severity of a patient’s condition – they have seen it many times before, and they take care of it.”

Vaishnavi was touched by the earnest, gentle care that the physicians dispensed to each patient, even going so far as to use family diminutives like “nani” (grandmother) or “bhai” (brother) with their patients.

Even with language barriers, the students could visually follow what was happening. And those fortunate enough to make rounds with Vaishnavi heard her translations. She had picked up passable Hindi from her UMKC roommate. Vaishnavi even interviewed a psychiatric patient in Hindi, a real test of her abilities with language and with medical protocols.

Entertainment was plentiful. Tim watched cricket matches, but with a measure of envy. He didn’t have the chance – or maybe the nerve – to try his hand. One weekend, Dr. Agrawal treated his students to dinner and a night out at the Rude Lounge.

Both groups made some short trips to nearby spectacular sites, including the Taj Mahal and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. They took side trips to Punjab, a neighboring state, and some botanical gardens.

They bargained at local shops and visited some upscale malls and elegant restaurants. By contrast, in one section of Mumbai, Dharivi, fairly rudimentary housing is built on public lands. One million people live in a space half the size of New York’s Central Park.

Some in the student groups were studying special education, microfinance, and even Bollywood. The area in Mumbai where Bollywood movies and TV series are shot was not far from the student quarters, so they went there to look it over. Although most of the American students didn’t recognize any of the Indian celebrities, Vaishnavi was star-struck.

“I’ve grown up watching these people! It’s like meeting a rock star or movie actor. I couldn’t believe I was standing in the same room with them,” she said.

Before the trip ended, almost everyone was sick at least once but recovered quickly. Joe and Tim were sick the same day, so sympathy for the other was in short supply. They called that the “Worst Wednesday Ever.

Divya, Joe, Tim and Vaishnavi are sure they are on the right path, and medicine remains their chosen field.

Vaishnavi described medicine as subtle, but she experienced moments when the palpable effects of treatment left her stunned. One such event was a kidney transplant. The patient’s diseased kidney was removed. The live donor’s kidney was taken out and cleaned; at that point, the new kidney was completely pale. After transferring the healthy kidney to the patient and connecting it to the renal artery, the new kidney immediately turned a bright red.

“Like UMKC’s Sojourner Clinic,” Vaishnavi said, “at Sanjeevani the very ill and elderly are treated at no cost. What they do pay is respect. They are almost reverent in a way, and touch the feet of their doctors as a sign of gratitude.”

In the neurology outpatient department, Vaishnavi met a patient who had experienced numbness and tingling for the past year. After getting lab results, the doctor figured out that the patient had a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can be easily cured with an injection. This patient would recover in a matter of weeks, a potent sign of the difference doctors can make in a patient’s quality of life.

The trip reinforced all that the students were learning at UMKC, and their experiences were effective reminders of why they chose medicine in the first place.

White Coat Ceremony a milestone for Year 3 students

The School of Medicine celebrated 105 new Year 3 students who graduated to the Hospital Hill campus during the annual White Coat Ceremony on Aug. 15 at Swinney Recreation Center.
The School of Medicine celebrated 105 new Year 3 students who graduated to the Hospital Hill campus during the annual White Coat Ceremony on Aug. 15 at Swinney Recreation Center.

The White Coat Ceremony at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine also prominently includes the colors blue, green, red, gold and purple.

This rite of passage for Year 3 students in UMKC’s innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program recognizes the transition from an emphasis on classroom work to bedside care. Faculty physician mentors — docents — gave white coats to 109 students at a ceremony Saturday at Swinney Recreation Center.

The newly white-coated students will spend the next four years in small docent-led learning groups. Five blue, green, red, gold and purple banners at the ceremony represented the five docent units.

The white coat is one of the most recognizable symbols of the medical profession. In the late 1800s, physicians wore short-sleeved white coats in the operating room to prevent contamination to both the physician and the patients. The color white also culturally represents values such as purity, cleanliness and life.

“Today, the white coat signifies the formal relationship that exists between physicians and patients,” said Brenda Rogers, M.D., associate dean for student affairs at the School of Medicine.  “It serves as a reminder of the obligation we have to practice medicine with clinical competence and compassion.”

The students who were cloaked in white coats at the ceremony — the class of 2019 — wrote a philosophy of medicine statement that will hang in the school lobby. Joseph Bennettt, 2014 Richard T. Garcia Award recipient and Year 3 student, read it:

“Medicine is a noble profession that serves to better mankind, and getting a chance to be a part of this profession is a dream come true. As aspiring physicians, we have chosen potentially one of the more difficult paths to assisting others. We have chosen to master the human body and all that ails it. Simply stated, medicine is about helping people…”

UMKC study finds beta blockers can increase risk of death in noncardiac surgery

Mark Friedell, M.D.

A University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine research study has found that unless they have serious cardiac issues, patients should question the need for a beta blocker before an upcoming major surgery.

The controversial practice of administering pre-surgery beta blockers to patients having noncardiac surgery is associated with an increased risk of death in patients with no heart risk factors, according to a new report released in the May 17, 2015 issue of  JAMA Surgery. Mark L. Friedell, M.D., chairman of surgery, is the lead author of the article.

Beta blockers are beneficial for patients with three to four cardiac risk factors, according to the report. But pre-surgery beta blockers are commonly given to patients having cardiac surgery.

Beta blockers are medications that reduce blood pressure and work of the heart by blocking the effects of adrenaline. They are regularly prescribed to treat various cardiac diseases, high blood pressure, glaucoma and migraines.  Beta blockers make the heart beat more slowly and with less force.

“This is very important. Anyone on a daily beta blocker for any reason should stay on the beta blocker before surgery. It should not be stopped,” Friedell said. “This is the consensus of the cardiology societies in the United States.”

But use in patients undergoing noncardiac surgery is controversial because of the increased risk of low blood pressure and stroke. Because of the persistent controversy, Friedell and coauthors analyzed data from the Veterans Health Administration to examine the effect of pre-surgery beta blockers on patients having noncardiac surgery by measuring 30-day surgical mortality.

The analysis included 326,489 patients: 314,114 (96.2 percent) had noncardiac surgery and 12,375 (3.8 percent) had cardiac surgery. Overall, 141,185 patients (43.2 percent) received a beta blocker. Of the patients having cardiac surgery, 8,571 (69.3 percent) received a beta blocker and 132,614 (42.2 percent) of the patients having noncardiac surgery got one.

The results suggest that among patients with no cardiac risk factors having noncardiac surgery, those patients receiving beta blockers were significantly more likely to die than those not receiving beta blockers. The risk of death decreased for those patients with one to two risk factors but the reduction was not significant.  However, for patients having noncardiac surgery with three to four cardiac risk factors, those receiving beta blockers were significantly less likely to die than those not receiving beta blockers, the authors found. They did not observe similar results in patients having cardiac surgery.

“Most important, the use of beta blockers in patients with no cardiac risk factors appears to be associated with a higher risk of death, which has, to our knowledge, not been previously reported,” the study concludes.

In 2012, Friedell joined the UMKC School of Medicine as the Ralph R. Coffey Endowed Chair. He is renowned for his knowledge in vascular surgery, general surgery and surgical education.