SOM grads are ready to take on the world

The School of Medicine celebrated the Class of 2017 during the annual graduation ceremony at the Kansas City Music Hall on May 22.

The UMKC School of Medicine graduated its first full class of 33 six-year B.A./M.D. students in 1977. Forty years later, the school has produced more than 3,600 highly skilled physicians who are sought after leaders on all levels, renowned experts in their medical fields, and groundbreaking scientist uncovering new methods of caring for the communities they serve.

Today, the school is producing health care professionals in many disciplines. In addition to a medical degree, the school offers master’s degrees for anesthesiologist assistants and physician assistants, as well as students in health professions education and bioinformatics. It also offers graduate certificates in a number of programs and an Interdisciplinary-Ph.D. program.

More than 140 students celebrated their degrees and graduate certificates at the School of Medicine’s 2017 commencement ceremony on May 22 at the Kansas City Music Hall – a far cry from that first class of 33 six-year graduates.

To celebrate this year’s graduates and highlight the diversity and extensive educational options offered students at the UMKC School of Medicine, we are sharing some of their stories.


B.A./M.D. Program

Wamkpah achieves her dream of becoming a doctor

Nneome Wamkpah says she knew by the time she was a sophomore in high school that she wanted to become a doctor.

Surrounded by a family of health care professionals, Wamkpah understood what it meant to work in the field and help others. But, she says, it was five years into the UMKC School of Medicine’s six-year program when she fully realized the gravity of her decision.

“It’s so hard to know when you’re young. You really don’t understand just how much people depend on you until you’re into it,” Wamkpah said. “I understood from my family that I could make a difference working in health care, but to truly take care of another human being, that really came to me last year. It’s a big responsibility.”

Because of her extensive clinical training at UMKC, Wamkpah says it’s a charge she feels fully prepared to accept. A May graduate, she will begin her post-graduate residency training in otolaryngology this summer at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University in St. Louis.

She said the experience of meeting and working with patients during her first year of medical school, and the large number of clinical experiences accumulated throughout the six-year program, has given her the confidence to succeed as a physician.

“It sets us up very nicely for residency training,” Wamkpah said. “You kind of know already what to do in treating patients, how to talk to them, how to get their problems solved. A lot of schools take their time getting you to that point. We have a lot of practice in that and the curriculum really supports great patient care and working as a great clinician.”

As a child growing up in health-care oriented family, she heard her grandmother’s many accounts of life as a midwife in their native Nigeria.

“She would always tell us stories about that,” Wamkpah says.

Both of her parents earned nursing degrees at the University of Kansas and worked as nurses before branching into business and opening their own medical equipment store. Her aunt is a nurse and an uncle in Spokane, Washington, is a transplant surgeon.

So it’s no surprise that she followed a similar path.

“I had a lot of influences early on to go into the medical field,” Wamkpah says.

UMKC allowed her to do that and stay close to home in nearby Leawood, Kansas. Wamkpah smiles when she explains that she was born at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, one of the school’s primary teaching hospitals where she completed some clinical rotations.

“I wasn’t looking to stay home, but this filled all the needs of wanting to become a doctor, doing so sooner (than traditional medical schools) and it was close to home,” she says.

It also allowed to her follow another passion: teaching. Whether helping other students in the writing lab or tutoring them in biochemistry, Wamkpah says teaching is another goal she plans to pursue.

“I want to be at an academic institution,” she said. “That dynamic of teacher and student learning from one another is something that I really love. I think UMKC really supported my desires to do that by giving me so many opportunities to teach. You can impact patient care, but you can impact the next generation of doctors, too. That’s important to me.”


Masters of Health Professions Education

Staab prepared to spread her message about nutrition

Growing up in Mexico, Ara Staab developed an interest in pursuing a health-care career when she saw family members battle diabetes and other health problems.

While studying pre-med at the University at Guadalajara, Staab decided an undergraduate degree in dietetics and nutrition science would allow her to help family members and others understand the importance of better nutrition and diet.

“For me, that was more intriguing,” Staab said. “I was thinking, these things can help my family and even more people in a broad way.”

For much of the past four years, Staab has taken her message to the local community, working for the University of Missouri Extension’s Family Nutrition Education Program in Kansas City.

And this May, Staab added a master’s degree from the UMKC School of Medicine’s Health Professions Education program to her resume. The program has already expanded her ability to help others by broadening her foundation for teaching, program assessment and leadership in her field.

While earning the two-year master’s degree, Staab was promoted at MU Extension to coordinator of the nutrition program’s Kansas City Urban Region.

“Being an educator in the past, this program helped me understand curriculum development and needs assessment. Those are things I didn’t have the fundaments for with a background in dietetic science,” Staab said.

Not only did the program provide a strong understanding of curriculum development, Staab found she had a particular interest in research. Last October, she received one of the medical school’s Sarah Morrison Student Research Awards. Her study included the creation of a new nutrition curriculum for low-income and limited-resource families emphasizing the control of chronic health conditions through diet and other healthy lifestyle changes.

“We’re actually doing a research study with some medical students to analyze and evaluate whether our nutrition curriculums will have the impact that I think they will have,” she said.

As a program coordinator, Staab will apply the lessons she learned through the UMKC program to further engage the public by conducting need assessments. She will then be able to modify or create new programs to meet those needs.

“This program has greatly complemented what I’m doing at MU Extension,” Staab said.

Before joining MU Extension, Staab directed the nutrition services program in the small border town of Nogales on the Arizona-Mexico border. She met her husband there and the two eventually moved to the Kansas City area, where she found a job supervising the nutrition care department at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Staab became interested in expanding her background in health education while working at the hospital. She believed too few people there  fully understood her role and how she could benefit other health professionals in treating patients.

At MU Extension, Staab works with a staff of more than 20 nutrition educators who share new and existing programs. The Extension partners with many of the community service programs and health clinics throughout the Kansas City metro area.

“A person’s diet has an impact on their treatment,” Staab said. “For me, advocating good nutrition to the community and the health profession is important. It’s part of my goal to teach dietetic science and nutrition and bring that to other health professionals and projects.”


Master of Medical Science – Physician Assistant

Gaines looks to take physician assistant role back to rural roots

Blink at the Phillips 66 station exit on Interstate 70, about halfway between Columbia and St. Louis, and you just missed Jonesburg, Missouri.

A rural community of less than 800 people, this is where Stephen Gaines, at age 16, came home from high school and spent his free time as a volunteer firefighter. Junior fire fighter was his official title. Gofer would be a more accurate job description.

“It was go get this for me, hold this for me,” Gaines says. “I was just learning and going to training and getting experience. By the time I was 18, I had experienced a lot in the functions of the volunteer fire department and what we do from medical calls to vehicle accidents to fires.”

He learned the department provided a large part of the emergency medical care offered to Montgomery County, which only has two medical doctors, one dentist and one optometrist. A physician assistant was a foreign concept to Gaines before he was in college at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.

“I had never heard of a physician assistant, let alone seen one,” Gaines says.

In May, Gaines became part of the second class of physician assistants at the UMKC School of Medicine to earn a Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant degree. This summer, Gaines will enter a post-graduate fellowship in emergency medicine for physician’s assistants at the University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia, where he will received specialized training directed to the acute care of emergency medicine patients.

“You know, PAs are not on TV shows,” he says. “It’s not something that’s really well known in some parts of the country.”

That’s particularly true in rural areas such as Jonesburg. Gaines says folks there may wait several days with a severe illness or injury before deciding they’re not getting any better, then may travel up to 45 miles to Columbia or St. Louis to see a doctor.

That’s part of the reason he would like to return to a rural area to practice emergency medicine.

“But not too rural,” he says. “I want to work in emergency medicine, so that means I have to go somewhere that at least has a hospital, but a smaller-sized hospital.”

Gaines says he learned about physician assistants while he was a pre-medicine student at Truman State. Unlike physicians, who spend years of training and specializing in one area of medicine, PAs may work in a number of areas of the health care field with one license. To Gaines, who got married about a year ago, that was an intriguing opportunity.

“I kind of came in knowing that I wanted to do emergency medicine as a physician assistant,” Gaines said. “But I also know that as a physician assistant, there are other opportunities. Should things change, if I have a family and I’m tired of working the night shifts and want to do more of an 8-to-5 thing in family medicine, that’s an option.”

Four schools in Missouri offer physician assistant training. Gaines said he chose the UMKC program because it was the only one housed inside a medical school.

“I knew that at UMKC, I would get an education from the same people who are teaching future physicians,” he said. “We already have that connection with hospitals that the medical students have. We rotate with the same staff physicians at the hospitals that medical students and residents do. That was really attractive.”

Now, after training at several hospitals throughout Kansas City and experiencing a wide variety of patient populations, Gaines says he’s prepared to return to his roots.

“I want to go back to the rural side of emergency medicine.”


Master of Science – Anesthesia

Hill now prepared to ‘do so many different things’

Less than a year after earning her chemistry degree with a pre-medicine focus from Austin Peay State University, Kaitlyn Hill had a good job as a laboratory technician. But working long hours in a room with chemicals brought her to a realization.

“I didn’t want to be in a lab all day,” Hill said.

In May, the former high school and college basketball player received a Master of Science in Anesthesia from the UMKC School of Medicine.

Months before receiving her degree, Hill had already received a job offer to begin a new career at as an anesthesiologist assistant. Instead of eight-hour days in a laboratory, Hill will put her medical interests and skills to work with patients in operating rooms at Kansas City’s Saint Luke’s Hospital.

“I’m going to have the opportunity to perform obstetrics cases, and pediatrics, and neurology cases,” Hill said. “They have a GI suite and MRI lab. I’ll be able to do all of that. Saint Luke’s has a variety of case and it’s great that as a graduate, I’ll be able to do so many different things. That’s one of the reasons I chose to work there.”

After graduating from Austin Peay, Hill learned of the School of Medicine’s anesthesiologist assistant program from a friend. She began going to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis a few days a week to shadow anesthesiologist James Gibbons, M.D., a strong proponent of anesthesiologist assistants.

Hill said she liked the idea of working with patients in a hospital surgery environment. Now, she is part of the eighth class of anesthesiologist assistants to earn their MSA degree through UMKC’s 27-month program. Each of her graduating classmates secured an anesthesiologist assistant’s job before completing their degree as well.

Part of that success, she said, is a result of the vast experience students receive at the UMKC School of Medicine.

“This program, from the very beginning, was very focused,” Hill said. “Right away, we were doing procedures in the simulation lab, learning to ventilate a patient. There wasn’t a lot of fluff.”

Hill said the hours of practice and repetition in the School of Medicine’s clinical training facility gave her a solid foundation for clinical rotations.

“I think the simulation lab is great,” she said. “I’ve talked to other people who don’t have the opportunities we get to learn to intubate, to start IVs and do other technical skills. They’re done on a mannequin so it is different from an actual patient, but we get to practice the skills multiple times. You have more confidence when doing them for the first time on a real patient, and your technical skills are so much better. Having played basketball in high school and college, I’m used to practicing and practicing and practicing before the game starts, so the repetition here is really good.”

Another part of the program’s lure is that students have the opportunity to travel to many areas of the country for their clinical rotations. After a month at a hospital in St. Louis earlier this year, Hill was headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for her next rotation.

“I’ve been to Myrtle Beach. I’ve been in Wisconsin, in Oklahoma,” Hill said. “We go to different hospitals and have so many different experiences. At some hospitals, we’ll get more specialty training in areas like cardiac surgery, obstetrics and pediatrics.”

All of that now has her on the path to a career she is excited about.

“I feel like I’ve gotten a great education,” Hill said. “Everything I’ve needed, I’ve had at UMKC.”


Master of Science – Bioinformatics

Quintar, a cardiology fellow, adds bioinformatics degree to his research arsenal

As a cardiologist, Mohammed Qintar, M.D., wants to get at the heart of the matter with his patients.

That, he says, means going beyond treating patients’ cardiovascular diseases and assisting them through healing. It requires connecting with them on a more personal level.

“You often have to treat their life as a whole in order to treat their heart disease,” Qintar said.

A research fellow in combined cardiovascular outcomes at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and the UMKC School of Medicine, Qintar focuses his study on the health status and outcomes of patients who suffer angina and patients undergoing angioplasty.

He is adding a new weapon to his research arsenal, graduating this May with a Master of Science in Bioinformatics from the UMKC School in Medicine.

“Cardiology is a data-driven field, and since early in my career, I have been involved in research,” Qintar said. “I believe that doing research makes you a better clinician and that you can contribute much more by being involved in research.”

Qintar began specializing in cardiovascular outcomes after completing his medical degree at Damascus Medical School in Syria and an internal medicine residency at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

After he joined the cardiology fellowship program at the Mid America Heart Institute, Qintar was a finalist in the 2016 Young Investigator Award competition at the American Heart Association meeting on Quality Care Outcomes Research.

“I joined the Mid America Heart Institute and UMKC for the cardiovascular outcomes research and clinical cardiology fellowship because you get the chance to work with the best in this field,” Qintar said. “Obtaining a master of science in bioinformatics provides me with the right tools to advance my career to the next level. It helps me deeply understand research.”

Qintar said the School of Medicine’s bioinformatics program has allowed him to develop the critical thinking skills in research design and methodology necessary for conducting high-level and successful medical research projects.

In particular, he is looking to devise novel strategies to implement tools that will improve the quality of care for patients suffering coronary artery diseases.

“Understanding how to critically design and answer a research question in the best way is very important,” he says. “This skill takes time and only comes when you are around top-notch researchers. If somebody is interested in research as a future career, or just to understanding medical research, this program is the right fit.”

Hospital CMO Divya Shroff honored with 2017 Take Wing Award

Divya Shroff, M.D., ’00, F.H.M., with School of Medicine Dean Steven Kanter, M.D., received the 2017 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award on Monday, May 22.

When word reached Divya Shroff, M.D., ’00, F.H.M., that she had been selected as winner of the 2017 UMKC School of Medicine E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award, tears filled her eyes.

“I’m not worthy,” Shroff said. “That was my first response.”

Her colleagues would beg to differ.

Having worked at two of the largest health care systems in the United States, Shroff has grown into a nationally recognized leader in bringing together medicine and technology to improve the quality of patient care.

Today, she is also responsible for the strategic leadership and oversight of a staff of nearly 1,800 physicians and advanced practitioners as chief medical officer of TriStar Centennial Medical Center, in Nashville, Tennessee. With that comes the duty of maintaining the highest standard of quality and clinical excellence for the flagship hospital of the nation’s largest for-profit health care corporation, Hospital Corporation of American (HCA).

It’s a goal that Shroff and her team have consistently met since she took on the physician leadership role in 2013. For the past five years, the hospital has earned an A+ rating for quality and safety from the Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization that reports on hospital performance.

“It’s a very busy clinical facility and we want to make sure we’re meeting the quality standards,” Shroff said.

Shroff received this year’s Take Wing Award at the annual Take Wing Lectureship on Monday, May 22, at the School of Medicine.

Before her appointment at TriStar Centennial, Shroff joined HCA’s clinical services group as chief clinical transformation officer and vice president. The role made her responsible for implementing electronic health records systems throughout the corporation’s more than 170 hospitals. Only a small fraction of those were using electronic health records when she arrived. Within a few years, all HCA hospitals across 20 states were on board.

Shroff began building a resume as a physician leader and medical technology innovator at the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C. She said she honed her skills by knowing and working closely with the folks in the IT department. Developing those relationships were important, as she played a vital role in projects such as using a Blackberry — before the days of the iPhone — to transmit EKGs to off-site cardiologists, developing an electronic providers hand-off tool, and implementing an interactive bedside TV for patients that communicates with the hospital’s electronic medical records system.

She said her time at the UMKC School of Medicine helped her build the skills necessary to be successful.

“I think it’s because of the core competencies the school teaches,” said Shroff. “We were put in the hospital environment at such a formative point in our careers. It allowed us to look at things innovatively. As a student, you are empowered in a way that many medical schools don’t allow.”

She said the experience teaches young physicians to take ownership of becoming outstanding patient care providers.

“What has allowed me to be successful in my role today is the foundation that I got from the UMKC School of Medicine,” Shroff said.

Now, part of Shroff’s task is to share that charge of maintaining the highest quality of patient care with the medical staff of a large, full-service community hospital that’s about to embark on a $120-million expansion. Leaders at TriStar Centennial are also exploring the idea of adding a graduate medical education program.

“We want to be the hospital of choice for Nashville,” Shroff said. “I’m honored to be part of that vision.”

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.

Vaidyanathan presents research at international neurology conference

Medical student Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan, right, presented her research poster with her mentors Harold Morris, M.D., and Angela Hawkins, M.S.N., R.N., at the 2017 American Academy of Neurology conference.

Fifth-year medical student Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan spent nearly two months exploring the histories of stroke patients and the effects of the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). The result was a research poster she recently presented at the 2017 American Academy of Neurology conference in Boston.

Her presentation showed that patients treated with tPA within the first 24 hours of a suffering a stroke have significantly fewer early onset seizures.

Vaidyanathan began her study last September while completing a neurology rotation at Saint Luke’s Hospital. Under the guidance of Saint Luke’s neurologist Harold Morris, M.D., and Angela Hawkins, M.S.N., R.N., stroke program manager, Vaidyanathan reviewed the histories of nearly 1,300 stroke patients.

“They allowed me to write it up and go through process with their guidance,” Vaidyanathan said. “I learned so much from that, literature searching, how to write up an abstract, doing bio-statistics. It was a great learning opportunity.”

The annual neurology conference in Boston drew an international audience of nearly 14,000 physicians and scientists.

“This conference was a great experience,” Vaidyanathan said. “I got to meet people who are celebrities in the neurology field. They’re very well-known. I had the opportunity to listen to talks about the latest research that’s going on in neurology and hear all the great innovations that are happening. It was an awesome experience.”

Vaidyanathan said she already has ideas for future studies that look at the effects of tPA and other intra-arterial interventions on the incidence of post-stroke seizures.

“I hope to do further investigation of these patients and get more results that I can write up and present,” she said.

Refugee care presents compelling needs, big obstacles, Comninellis says

Nicholas Comninellis (left), M.D. ’82, spoke with students after his lecture.

Providing health care to refugee populations faces tremendous obstacles, but it can be done, and everyone can help, Nicholas Comninellis, M.D. ’82, told students, faculty and guests on May 16 at the School of Medicine.

Comninellis, UMKC’s Alumnus of the Year in 2015, spoke on “Refugee Care—Displaced But Not Forgotten,” as part of the school’s International Medicine Lecture Series.

He has been on the faculty at the School of Medicine and in 2004 founded INMED, the Institute for International Medicine, which is based in Kansas City and equips health care professionals to provide primary care for refugees and other displaced people.

Using slides and a brief film from UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, Comninellis homed in on dire refugee situations stemming from ISIS control of regions in Syria and Iraq. He asked audience members to help him list the obstacles to treating refugee populations, and then he went through the four phases of aiding refugees, from pre-emergency and emergency through post-emergency maintenance and repatriation.

The combination of displacement from their homes, violent emotional and sometimes physical trauma, a severe lack of material and medical resources, and lack of infrastructure for sanitary living makes providing even basic medical care difficult, he said.

High stress is also common, often related to worrying about whether there will be enough to eat. And even when a refugee settlement can achieve some stability and sense of safety away from battle areas, boredom and finding meaningful work then can become a big problem, he said.

Comninellis showed many heart-rending, close-up photographs from refugee camps, and then a photo from Jordan showing a vast expanse of thousands of tents in a desert camp where refugees had lived for the past five years.

In calling on his audience to help, Comninellis said the refugee problem one “of biblical proportions,” and he read verses from Leviticus and Deuteronomy admonishing people to care for and love “the foreigner residing among you.” He noted that his father’s father had been a refugee from Greece during World War II, and that many people in the audience probably had some refugee history in their families.

He also noted that his organization, INMED, offered courses, training, fellowships, service learning and diploma programs so that students, residents and other graduates could develop and practice skills in international medicine.

He also encouraged everyone to volunteer with a reputable organization that aids refugees, to help refugees who settled in their communities, to be aware of changing refugee situations in the world, and to encourage elected representatives to pursue policies that help refugees.

Before Comninellis spoke, Steven Waldman, M.D. ’77, J.D., M.B.A., and associate dean of International Programs, said the School of Medicine on Aug. 22 would have a session outlining opportunities for international service learning and research that will be available through Global Health Learning Opportunities. That’s a collaborative of about 140 international programs, through the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Waldman also said an International Medicine Day was in the works for November, during which posters could be presented, much like the school’s annual Quality and Patient Safety Day.

Discount available for 2017 Hospital Hill Run registration

Racers packed the starting line for the UMKC School of Medicine 5K Run to kick off the 2016 Hospital Hill Run.

The UMKC School of Medicine is the 5K sponsor of the 2017 Hospital Hill Run – one of the most storied races in Missouri history. Originally created by SOM Founder Grey E. Dimond, the race attracts thousands to participate or volunteer in the family friendly UMKC School of Medicine 5K, as well as the 5K rerun, 10K or half marathon.

As the named sponsor of the UMKC School of Medicine 5K on Friday, June 2, at 7 p.m. – where strollers are welcome and families of all sizes are encouraged to take part – all UMKC staff, faculty, students and alumni may register at a discounted rate.

Participating UMKC staff and faculty also may earn points toward their wellness incentive programs by racing or volunteering. When registering for the Friday night or Saturday morning race events, use the code DISCUMKC for 20 percent savings.

Registration: http://www.hospitalhillrun.com/register/athlete-registration/

Volunteer information: http://www.hospitalhillrun.com/volunteer-2/volunteer/

Hospital Hill Run website: http://www.hospitalhillrun.com/

In addition to improving your health and wellness, your participation in the Hospital Hill Run supports many local charities.

There are many ways to get involved in this year’s Hospital Hill Run. Volunteers are needed for all events: to help unwrap medals; pack post-race food packets; sort, stack, and pass out t-shirts; distribute bibs; set up and staff aid stations; cheer and steer participants on course; award medals; give wet towels, food, and hydration at the finish line; and race clean up.

Noback-Burton lecturer says humanities advance practice of healing art

Arno Kumagai,M.D., delivered the 2017 Noback-Burton Lecture on April 28 at the UMKC School of Medicine..

Several trends in health care make the practice of compassionate medicine more difficult, but integrating the humanities into medical education can help produce more-caring physicians, Arno Kumagai, M.D., said at the second annual Noback-Burton Lecture.

“The first question is, What kind of doctors are we trying to create?” Kumagai asked in his April 28 lecture at the UMKC School of Medicine, titled “Ways of Seeing, Ways of Knowing: A Role for the Humanities in Medical Education.”

Kumagai, vice chair for education in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, argued that medical education should be moral education, promoting justice, compassion and “development of the empathic self.”

He said the rising emphasis on patient-centered care was welcome—and needed to counter current challenges and developments including:

  • Rapid technological change, which despite its possible benefits can be hard to keep up with and disruptive.
  • Turning medicine into a commodity and patients into customers. Conveyor belt medicine and measures of “productivity” work against the best care, Kumagai said.
  • The standardization of medical education. Though a wide range of essential skills must be imparted to every student, individuality and fresh and varied ways to see and engage with patients should be nurtured rather than sacrificed.
  • The ubiquity of electronic medical records, leading to typing into a computer crowding out human interaction, especially during a 15-minute conveyor belt style appointment.

Especially given these developments, Kumagai said, how do medical schools educate future physicians to best provide patient-centered care?

Integrating the humanities into the curriculum is certainly part of the answer, but moreover Kumagai argued for using the many ways that the humanities and art can get people to open their perception and see and know their patients and the world differently.

As an example, he said it had built empathy, and shown students the power of other people’s stories, to match medical students with patients with chronic conditions, and have them really get to know those patients. Valuable lessons come from such “deep listening and dialogue,” Kumagai said, and can keep doctors from seeing patients as their illnesses and not whole people.

“We often forget that at the heart of medicine lies the interaction we have with someone who suffers … a sacred space in which people become different than they are, including ourselves,” Kumagai said. “Medicine is ultimately the opportunity to bear witness to the mystery, tragedy and wonder of being human. And it is our duty as physicians not to look at this as extra. This humanism, humanities, is at the core of medicine. It is not an extra.”

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

UMKC class of 2017 inducted into AOA honor society

The Missouri Delta Chapter of the AOA medical honor society welcomed its 2017 class of students, residents, alumni and faculty on May 5.
Richard Isaacson, M.D., ’01, delivered the annual AOA Lecture.

The School of Medicine’s Missouri Delta Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society welcomed its 2017 class of inductees during an annual celebration at Diastole.

Induction to the society is an honor that recognizes one’s excellence in academic scholarship and adherence to the highest ideals of professionalism in medicine. New AOA members are selected based on their character and values such as honesty, honorable conduct, morality, virtue, unselfishness, ethical ideals, dedication to serving others and leadership.

This year’s inductees included 12 new junior and senior students, residents and fellows, alumni and faculty.

Student inductees include: Junior AOA members Danielle Cunningham, Sanju Eswaran, Carlee Oakley and Vishal Thumar; and senior members Mohammed Alam, Jeffrey Klott and Reid Waldman. Resident and fellow inductees were Mouhanna Abu Ghanimeh, M.D., Katrina Lee Weaver, M.D., and Stephane L. Desouches, D.O.

Sajid Khan, M.D., ’05, was the alumni inductee and Dev Maulik, M.D., chairman of obstetrics and gynecology and senior associate dean for women’s health, was this year’s faculty inductee.

Twelve senior inductees were also selected last fall, including: Himachandana Atluri, Kayla Briggs, Molly Carnahan, Kevin Gibas, Neil Kapil, Susamita Kesh, Deborah Levy, Sean Mark, Luke Nayak, Amina Qayum, Dayne Voelker and Zara Wadood.

Richard Isaacson, M.D., ’01, delivered the annual AOA Lecture on May 5. Isaacson serves as director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic and Weill Cornell Memory Disorders Program at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He spoke on advances in the management of Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention.

Volunteers recognized for service at Sojourner Clinic

Student volunteers were recognized for their service at the Sojourner Clinic on May 5 during a banquet at Diastole.

The work of almost 250 student volunteers was recognized at the Sojourner Clinic’s annual year-end banquet on May 5 at Diastole.

Each Sunday since October 2004, students from the UMKC School of Medicine have volunteered the afternoon to care for the homeless and underprivileged living in the downtown area of Kansas City.

Today, the Sojourner Health Clinic continues to provide free health care for some of the city’s most vulnerable patients. Those volunteers have grown to include students from UMKC’s pharmacy, physician assistant, dental and dental hygiene programs. In the past year, students from Rockhurst College’s occupational therapy program have joined the effort.

Executive director of Sojourner, Peter Lazarz, said volunteers devoted more than 1,500 hours of service to treating patients in the past year.

The event also brings together faculty volunteers, financial supporters and community partners in celebration of the services provided to about 250 patients throughout the school year.

Several students were recognized for their individual dedication and service in the past year.

2017 Sojourner Clinic Awards
  • Top Year 1 Volunteer: Shruti Kumar
  • Top Year 2 Volunteer: Michele Yang
  • Top Year 3 Volunteer: Tong Cheng
  • Top Year 4 Volunteer: Bhavana Jasti
  • Top Year 5 Volunteer: Margaret Kirwin
  • Top Year 6 Volunteer: Eri Joyo
  • Top Physician Assistant Volunteer: Daniel Beck
  • Brook Nelson Award for Leadership: Priyesha Bijlani
  • Ellen Beck Award for Dedication: Eshwar Kishore
  • Angela Barnett Award for Humanism: Raga Kilaru
  • Dan Purdom Award for Commitment: Adithi Reddy

Randall selected to NIH research fellowship

Grant Randall

Grant Randall, a fifth-year medical student, has been selected to take part in a student research fellowship program at the National Institutes of Health.

Beginning this June, Randall will take a leave of absence from medical school to devote his full-time focus to NIH’s Medical Research Scholar’s Program. He is the fourth student from the School of Medicine chosen to participate in the program.

“I talked to some of our students, Blake Montgomery and Dean Merrill, who did this NIH program and they had fantastic things to say about it,” Randall said.

The yearlong program offers medical, dental and veterinary students an intensive research fellowship participating in basic, clinical and translational research at the NIH’s campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Randall said he is excited about the prospects of working with and learning from some of the top researchers in the country.

“You get to take part in lectures pretty much every day and do basic science research, often with Nobel Laureates,” he said. “They do leadership classes, classes on statistics, how to conduct clinical research, writing research papers. Basically, a lot of the skills that people typically pick up along the way (in medical school and residency), they teach you there.”

Randall will spend the first couple of weeks of his fellowship meeting many of the NIH researchers and mentors to get an idea of the opportunities available and find a research project that meets his interest. He said he hopes to work in translational research to get a taste of both basic science and clinical research.

He acknowledged School of Medicine mentors Michael Wacker, Ph.D., assistant dean for medical student research, and John Foxworth, Pharm.D., professor of medicine, for encouraging him to explore the NIH program. Randall said he became interested in research while taking part in out-of-town clinical electives and working with scientists at the University of Iowa on immunology projects.

“That was my main exposure to in-depth basic science research, being in a lab every day,” Randall said. “I loved it and decided I wanted to do more.”