Lead remains a hazard for children, alumnus writes in Pediatrics

Public health systems still are failing to prevent lead poisoning in children, Bruce Lanphear, M.D. ’86, writes in an editorial in the journal Pediatrics.

Bruce Lanphear, M.D. ’86

Lanphear, whose research on lead poisoning put him in the national spotlight when the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., came to light, said children in hundreds of other cities had blood lead levels higher than the children of Flint.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health, Lanphear said, “recommends greater emphasis on screening children’s environments to identify lead hazards before a child is poisoned, using tools to sample and test house dust, soil, or water for lead.”

He also said pediatricians could push for lead abatement in older homes and regulations to cut environmental hazards. Testing of chemicals to establish their safety before they can be released into the environment also should be required, Lanphear said, but prospects for such regulation are dim.

The editorial accompanied research by others finding that, as lead levels have declined in many areas, testing labs are having trouble accurately detecting low levels of lead in children’s blood. There appears to be no safe threshold for lead exposure, especially in children, so detection at low levels is still important.

Lanphear also was one of three School of Medicine alumni whose work was reported last year in a UMKC Medicine article.

School of Medicine welcomes largest class of Summer Scholars

High School students from throughout Kansas City took part in an orientation session for the 2017 UMKC School of Medicine Summer Scholars program on Friday, July 7.

July at the UMKC School of Medicine is a time for high school students to immerse themselves in the school’s annual Summer Scholars Program. The activity has been providing opportunities for minority and disadvantaged students in the Kansas City metropolitan area to get a head start on a potential career in health care for 37 years.

This summer’s class is the largest ever with 78 students signed up to take part, nearly 30 more students than a year ago.

Darius Jackson serves as coordinator of the School of Medicine’s diversity programs, including Summer Scholars. He said the growth is partly by design and partly out of necessity to meet a growing need.

“I was a little ambitious,” Jackson said. “We had around 300 applications for Summer Scholars this year. We kept seeing the number of applications increase and decided, let’s find a way to increase our numbers instead of turning away more students.”

The solution was to expand the program by adding a third two-week session and allowing in more first-time participants.

Previously, all students in the program for the first time were in the Summer Scholars group, and those returning for a second year were in the Advanced Summer Scholars program. Now, one class of first-year scholars will be high school juniors and the other will be high school seniors. Students returning for a second year of the program will still participate in the Advanced Summer Scholars program.

Students and parents from all three groups participated in an orientation session on Friday morning. The full two-week session for juniors begins Monday, July 10, with seniors starting a week later and the Advanced Summer Scholars beginning the week after that.

Summer Scholars receive daily instruction in academic areas such as chemistry and language arts, and study anatomy and physiology in the school’s cadaver lab. Classroom experiences range from medical terminology and understanding health disparities to ACT and standardized test taking. Summer Scholars also experience different medical services such as emergency and outpatient medicine, rehabilitation and nursing services as well as surgery.

The advanced program includes a research component and additional experiences in various clinical rotations.

Summer Scholars prepares students for a career in health care by helping them build a foundation for success in multiple areas including interview skills, study and test-taking strategies, and interpersonal and communication skills.

School of Medicine seeks nominations for annual awards

The School of Medicine is accepting nominations for three upcoming faculty, staff and student awards in the areas of diversity and health equity, mentoring and medical education research.

The Excellence in Diversity and Health Equity in Medicine Awards recognizes an individual or organization that has demonstrated sustained and impactful contribution to diversity, inclusion and cultural competency or health equity. The award is given to a student or student organization, and to faculty, staff, resident and/or organization/department.

Nominees should be those who have made consistent contributions to diversity, inclusion, cultural competency or health equity through one or more of the following:

  • Recruiting and/or retaining a diverse student or faculty body;
  • Facilitating an inclusive environment for success of all;
  • Working to promote health equity and the elimination of health disparities;
  • Strengthening efforts to develop or implement cultural competency strategies that improve health-care delivery.

Nomination materials should be sent to the attention of Cynthia Ginn in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at ginnc@umkc.edu.

Two Betty M. Drees, M.D., Excellence in Mentoring Awards are presented each year. The Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award is for a faculty member with the rank of professor. The Excellence in Mentoring Award goes to a faculty member who is either an associate or assistant professor.

The awards recognize the significant contributions mentors make to enhance and develop the careers of our faculty and trainees. Characteristics of successful mentoring include generosity, listening, objectivity, and constructive feedback regarding career and professional/personal development.

The second annual Louise E. Arnold, Ph.D., Excellence in Medical Education Research Award will be given to a tenure track or nontenure track faculty member who has contributed to innovation and scholarship related to medical education at UMKC School of Medicine for a minimum of five years.

Nominations for the mentoring and medical education research awards should be sent to Dr. Rebecca R. Pauly, M.D., chair, selection committee, at paulyr@umkc.edu.

Winners of the awards will be announced on Sept. 7 during the annual Faculty Promotion and Awards reception at 4 p.m. in Theater B.

UMKC alumnus, TMC involved in latest antibiotic research

Mark T. Steele, M.D. ’80.

The addition of a second antibiotic to treat cellulitis skin infections did not result in significantly better cure rates in research recently published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study was the latest from an emergency medicine research group that includes Truman Medical Centers and Mark T. Steele, M.D. ’80. Steele is associate dean for TMC Programs at the UMKC School of Medicine and chief medical officer and chief operating officer for Truman Medical Centers.

“I’ve been involved with this group for more than 20 years,” Steele said. “It has 11 sites across the country and studies infectious diseases relevant to emergency medicine. This latest study used five of those sites, including Truman.”

The study involved 500 patients who had cellulitis that was not accompanied by abscess or a wound. Half of those patients were treated with cephalexin, an antibiotic effective against streptococci that typically is used in such cases. The other half got cephalexin plus trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, an anti-staph antibiotic that more patients with skin and soft-tissue infections have been receiving “just in case” MRSA — methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus — is present.

For the entire group treated, the added antibiotic seemed to help, producing a cure rate of 76.2 percent, versus a 69 percent cure rate for those who received just cephalexin. But that difference was not considered statistically significant. In addition, when the results were narrowed to the patients who were known to have taken at least 75 percent of the recommended doses of their antibiotics, the cure rates were almost identical, 83.5 percent for those who also got the second antibiotic, and 85.5 percent those who received just cephalexin.

MRSA has been showing up as a cause of more severe, abscessed skin infections, which has led to more dual prescribing of the antibiotics. Steele said this study’s results could inform emergency physicians that for cellulitis, absent abscess or a wound, the addition of the second antibiotic wasn’t more effective.

Amy Stubbs, M.D.

Amy Stubbs, M.D., helped oversee Truman’s portion of the research. She’s an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the School of Medicine and director of the school’s emergency medicine residency program. She completed her residency in emergency medicine at UMKC and was chief resident.

The National Institutes of Health sponsored the study, which Steele said was particularly well constructed to meet the standards of JAMA, the world’s most widely circulated medical journal.

It was the third in a series of published studies by the emergency research group, called the EMERGEncy ID NET. One dealt with treatment of abscesses and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Another looked at infected wounds seen by emergency physicians and was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Sarah Morrison research award winners announced

Recipients of the April 2017 Sarah Morrison student research awards are (left to right) Jessica Kieu, Shipra Singh, Vishal Thumar, Komal Kumar, and Katherine Suman.

Five School of Medicine’s students have been selected by the Student Research Program to receive Sarah Morrison Student Research Awards. The awards  support support research efforts and help students fund their presentations at conferences and scientific meetings.

The April 2017 recipients are Jessica Kieu, fourth-year medical student, Komal Kumar, fourth-year medical student, Shipra Singh, fourth-year medical student, Katherine Suman, sixth-year medical student, and Vishal Thumar, sixth-year medical student.

Sarah Morrison award recipients are reviewed by a committee of faculty judges and processed through the school’s Office of Research Administration. Awards of up to $1,500 are presented each April and October. Since 2013, students have received more than $61,000 in financial support from the Sarah Morrison program to support research projects at the School of Medicine.

Students interested in the Sarah Morrison Research awards are encouraged to apply prior to the April 1 and Oct. 1 deadlines each year. For complete application information, visit the Office of Research Administration’s student research website.

Award winners, abstract titles and faculty mentors

  • Jessica Kieu, “Maternal-fetal reactions to acute emotional stress in prenatal depressed mothers: correlations with fetal biomagnetometry measures,” Prakash Chandra – TMC
  • Komal Kumar, “Pregnant Women with Previous Mental Health Disorders and Behavior During Ultrasound,” Prakash Chandra – TMC
  • Shipra Singh, “The Effect of NAAA Gene Expression on Acetaminophen Hepatotoxicity,” Shui Ye – CMH
  • Katherine Suman, “The role of innate immune system signaling pathways in glaucoma pathogenesis,” Peter Koulen – Vision Research Center
  • Vishal Thumar, “Visualizing the Difference between Life and Death: A Comparison of Liver Ultrasound Findings in Children with Sinusoidal Obstruction Syndrome After Bone Marrow Transplantation,” Sherwin Chan – CMH

 

 

Running’s a nice break from School of Medicine studies for 5K winner

Jordann Dhuse shared her division winner’s medal with her dog, Milo.

When fourth-year student Jordann Dhuse crossed the finish line at the 2017 UMKC School of Medicine 5K, she wondered what all the fuss was about.

“I was shocked when I realized I had won my division,” said Dhuse, first among the 930 women in the June 2 race.

“I haven’t run all that many races,” said Dhuse, who enjoyed other sports in high school but took up running just a few years ago. “I had won my age group before, but not my division.”

Dhuse runs more “as a way to decompress from studying” than to be competitive, she said. But she does push herself to improve, and her time in this year’s 5K, 23:11, was almost two and a half minutes better than a year ago, when she placed 30th in the women’s division.

“I try to fit in a run most days, three miles if I’m lucky,” she said, and often can be seen running near the school, or walking her dog, Milo.

“He’s a long-haired chihuahua, so he doesn’t run with me,” she said. “But I let him wear my race medal. I think it weighs more than he does.”

It was the fourth year that the 5K took place the Friday evening before the Hospital Hill 10K and Marathon. The move was made to make the shorter race more family friendly, and it draws parents pushing strollers, along with many teams from various workplaces and non-profits.

“I like the atmosphere of this race,” said Dhuse. “You get families, people in town for the weekend, different groups.”

UMKC School of Medicine advancement director Fred Schlichting congradulates Jordann Dhuse.

Dhuse is from the Chicago area and came to UMKC after earning a bachelor’s degree in health science at the University of Missouri.

“I followed my brother, Kyle, to Columbia,” she said. “He’s a year older and fell in love with the campus.”

Then Dhuse decided to go on for a medical degree and was happy she was accepted at UMKC.

“I was attracted by the program’s whole approach, especially the docent system,” she said. “I love being on a team.”

Many of her Gold 3 docent mates are different from her in at least one respect: “I’m interested in emergency medicine, and most of them are interested in internal or family medicine. But we support each other.”

Eight SOM students receive MSMA scholarships

Missouri State Medical Association scholarships recipients: front row, left to right: Alice Hwang, Eryn Wanyonyi, Julia Clem, Forrest Kent; back row, left to right: Jason Tucker, Nicholas Keeven, Dr. David Wooldridge, School of Medicine alumna and MSMA member, Luke He, Dr. Fred Hahn, MSMA member. Not pictured: Haley Mayenkar

Eight students from the UMKC School of Medicine were recently awarded scholarships for the 2017-18 school year from the Missouri State Medical Association.

This year’s recipients are Julia Clem, Luke He, Alice Hwang, Nicholas Keeven, Forrest Kent, Haley Mayenkar, Jason Tucker and Eryn Wanyonyi.

The organization awards the scholarships annually to fourth-year medical students who are graduates of a Missouri high school.

MSMA was formed in 1850 by Missouri physicians and serves as a voice for the medical profession, physicians and their patients. The organization includes a Medical Student Section to address issues pertaining to students studying to obtain a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy degree. Three UMKC students, Kartik Sreepada, Muhammed Alikhan and Timothy Chow, served as student section state officers during the 2016-17 school year.

 

Prominent School of Medicine figures inducted to new Hospital Hill Run Hall of Fame

Members of Team Dimond represented the School of Medicine and founder E. Grey Dimond, M.D., at the 2017 Hospital Hill Run’s UMKC School of Medicine 5K race.

Two prominent figures from the UMKC School of Medicine were introduced into the new Hospital Hill Run Hall of Fame on June 1 during a VIP reception just prior to race weekend.

The inaugural class of inductees includes the two founding fathers of the Hospital Hill Run, UMKC School of Medicine founder E. Grey Dimond, M.D., and retired faculty member Ralph Hall, M.D.  Mark Curp, a local two-time Hospital Hill Run winner who held U.S. and world records in the half marathon from 1985 to 1990, was also part of the inaugural Hall of Fame class.

During the past 44 years, the race has grown from a single, 6.8-mile race with fewer than 100 runners to an annual event that boasts thousands of athletes competing in three different distances. Annually, it includes the UMKC School of Medicine 5K on Friday night, followed by a 10K and a half marathon on Saturday morning. Runner’s World magazine has touted the Hospital Hill Run as one of the top 25 road races in the United States.

The 2017 races were held June 2 and 3 with each beginning and ending on Grand Boulevard directly in front of Crown Center.

Fourth-year UMKC School of Medicine student Jordann Dhuse won the women’s 5K event.

Jordann Dhuse, a fourth-year student at the UMKC School of Medicine, won the women’s division of the School of Medicine 5K event in 23-minutes, 11-seconds, more than 40 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher in the women’s race.

More than 1,800 people took part in this year’s half-marathon, 10K and 5K events. Complete race results are available on the Hospital Hill Run website. Visit the UMKC School of Medicine Facebook page for more photos from the 5K race.

Dimond (1918-2013) was a devoted physician who dedicated his life to the practice of medicine, medical education and physical fitness. He scheduled a symposium of physical fitness to be held in May 1974 with the intent to combine the symposium with a running event. Dimond approached Hall, a UMKC faculty member and an endrocrinologist at Saint Luke’s Hospital, with the idea and together they created the Hospital Hill Run. For many years, Dimond experienced a great surge of happiness standing on the southwest corner of 25th and Holmes, cheering on thousands of runners as they competed in the event.

Hall was a runner in high school and college but had never managed a running event. He used his running network to secure a race organizer. For the first few years, Hall managed the medical tent to ensure that all runners would receive proper care if needed. In addition, he worked with various physicians to incorporate medical education courses before moving from Kansas City.

 

School of Medicine presents senior, graduate awards

The School of Medicine presented senior and graduate awards to 22 graduating members of the M.D., Master of Science in Anesthesia and Master of Science Bioinformatics programs. This year’s awards recipients as chosen by the faculty members include:

Senior Awards
Doctor of Medicine

  • Himachandana Atluri | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Amanda Fletcher | Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Research Award; Vice-Chancellor Honors Recipient; Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Jasleen Ghuman | Lee Langley Award; Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Award for Excellence in Microbiology; Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Paul Anthony Guidos | Merck Manual for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education
  • Comron Hassanzadeh | Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Basic Science Award; Lee Langley Award; Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence
  • Alexandra Johnson | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Deborah Levy | Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Student Award
  • Abhishek Kantamneni | Merck Manual for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education
  • Susamita Kesh | Laura L. Backus, M.D., Award for Excellence in Pediatrics
  • Jeffrey Klott | Missouri State Medical Association Honors Graduate; Pat. D. Do, M.D., Matching Scholarship in Orthopedics
  • Sean Mark | UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Medical Education
  • Luke Nayak | ACP Senior Student Book Award; Bette Hamilton, M.D., Memorial Award for Excellence in Immunology; Friends of UMKC Harry S. Jonas, M.D., Award
  • Payal Patel | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Lauren Thai | J. Michael de Ungria, M.D., Humanitarian Award
  • Hima Veeramachaneni | Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence; Missouri State Medical Association Honors Graduate; Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Dayne Voelker | James F. Stanford, M.D., Patient Advocate Scholarship; Vice-Chancellor Honors Recipient
  • Reid Waldman | Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Award for Excellence in Pathology
  • Nneoma Wamkpah | UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Award Association Outstanding Senior Partner
  • Kirbi Yelorda | Missouri State Medical Association Honors Graduate

Graduate Award
Master of Science – Anesthesia

  • Kaitlyn Hill | Student Ambassador Award

Graduate Awards
Master of Science – Bioinformatics

  • Michael Nassif | Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics Award for Excellence
  • Mohammed Qintar | Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics Award for Excellence

 

 

 

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.

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 the first class 40 years ago.

In 1977, the UMKC School of Medicine graduated its first full class of 33 six-year B.A./M.D. students. Today, 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.

The school continues 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.

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.”