A new School of Medicine video looks at two important research projects addressing health disparities among African Americans. These projects are spreading the gospel of good health … at church.
The research is led by Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics, who works with area churches and pastors to bring health education and screening to African-American congregations. Attention is given to issues of HIV, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Research plays a critical role at the UMKC School of Medicine – for students, faculty, residents and fellows. Today, nearly 100 faculty are involved in research projects with some, like Berkley-Patton’s, awarded significant federal grants and national foundation funding. Medical students are encouraged to engage in research and scholarship activities, and the school supports residents and fellows looking to embrace research as part of their medical careers.
To highlight its leadership role in research, the School of Medicine is producing a research video series. The first film features Berkley-Patton and her National Institutes of Health grants: Faith Influencing Transformation and Taking it to the Pews.
The Federation of State Medical Boards and National Board of Medical Examiners have appointed Steven Go, M.D., professor of emergency medicine, to serve on a newly formed Special Purpose Examination (SPEX) oversight committee.
The committee will manage a special purpose exam for physicians who currently hold, or who have previously held, a valid, unrestricted license to practice medicine in a United States or Canadian jurisdiction.
It is responsible for a wide range of exam topics, such as selecting appropriate testing methods; evaluating and approving blueprints, objectives, and test material formats; adopting test polices, and oversight of a research agenda and other uses of the exam.
The SPEX is provided for physicians seeking licensure reinstatement or reactivation, or those involved in disciplinary proceedings that determine a need for evaluation. The oversight committee is a new group that assumes the responsibilities of the governing and program committees of the Post-Licensure Assessment System.
Go’s appointment officially began in January. His new role is a continuation of his interest in medical student and physician competency assessment and credentialing issues. He is also serving on the United States Medical Licensing Examination management committee that is responsible for all USMLE step examinations. In addition, Go has also served as a board member for the National Board of Medical Examiners.
Former UMKC School of Medicine docent and Humanities Department namesake William T. Sirridge, M.D., was a master at connecting with patients, including in their final days.
So it was fitting that this year’s medical humanities lecture endowed in Sirridge’s name was titled “How to Conduct a Good Death.” Gary Salzman, M.D., a 1980 graduate of the School of Medicine, delivered the lecture March 22.
“William Sirridge was my docent and mentor and taught me many things not published in books,” said Salzman, himself a faculty member, docent and Truman Medical Center physician since 1985.
Sharing a half dozen stories about patients at the end of their lives, Salzman told the lessons he had learned from Sirridge and how they had played out in his career. The most important lesson focused on how to connect with patients.
“As we bring more and more technology into medicine, we become less and less able to connect with patients,” said Salzman. “Connecting with patients is as important today as it was 40 years ago when I was in medical school.”
Salzman first told two stories of how, as a student, he had failed miserably in dealing with a patient’s death. In one case, he was ill prepared and “got it all wrong” telling a woman over the phone that her mother had just died at the hospital.
In the other case, he had prepared a case for presentation by examining a woman with a classic case of scleroderma, studying the medical literature on the woman’s dire condition and working up a detailed treatment plan. But he had left out the human element, and was unaware that Sirridge had already tried the recommended treatments – which all failed. Instead, Salzman learned Sirridge was helping the patient and her three daughters take the necessary steps for the woman to die peacefully at home.
“He looked over his glasses and said to me, ‘Salzman, do you know how to conduct a good death?’ ”
After those two instances, Salzman said, he dedicated himself to listening, watching and learning from Sirridge and other veteran physicians. He saw that Sirridge’s skill at connecting with patients had three parts:
Physical touch. A gentle hand on a patient’s arm could be “more powerful than morphine.”
Common interests. Finding and sharing commonalities with some humor mixed in.
Direct and honest conversation.
As Salzman practiced and applied those principals over the years with dying patients and their family members, he began to learn how to conduct a good death, and to pass his lessons on to colleagues, residents and students.
Salzman recounted his education and evolution through cases that took him from trying to do too much for dying patients, to pushing too hard for removing life support. He told of one patient who, after being taken off life support, woke up, looked at him and said, “I need a beer!”
He found equilibrium by listening deeply, respecting patient and family wishes, and then doing his best to find a balanced course of action.
In one case, a hospice patient who recently reunited with his estranged spouse desperately wanted to live and have more time. Salzman, though skeptical, went with the man’s wishes and got him out of hospice and back home with a portable breathing unit. “Eight years later, he still sings my praises as the man who saved his life,” Salzman said. “I just listened to his wishes.”
And for patients “who want you to do everything,” Salzman said, “I tell them, ‘Let’s do everything that will help you, and nothing that will hurt you.’ ” Through that lens, he said, appropriate individual plans can be worked out for each patient.
Salzman closed with a case in which a sixth-year student got to know a patient with severe pulmonary fibrosis and her daughter. They were having trouble letting go even though the patient’s essential life-support mask, not meant for long-term continuous use, was causing her more and more pain and skin deterioration. Eventually, the student was able to describe what would happen if life support was removed, and what medicines would be used so the woman could die comfortably. Eventually, they agreed to remove the mask, and the mother died in peace.
“The student told me she determined the best way to connect with this family was to sit quietly, to just be present while watching television. So she watched ‘Ellen’ with them, most afternoons for two weeks.” Salzman praised the student on her outstanding work
“I told the student that I had a story that I wanted to tell her. It is about a man she never met but influenced her education. It is a story of my docent, William T. Sirridge, and a question he asked me a long time ago: ‘Do you know how to conduct a good death?’”
The lessons Dr. Sirridge taught on connecting with patients and conducting a good death learned by Salzman are now being passed on to current students. And, according to Salzman, these students will carry on, teaching these skills to their students and continuing the legacy of Dr. Sirridge long after his death.
The UMKC Health Sciences District is the presenting sponsor for the 2018 Hospital Hill Run – one of the most storied races in Missouri history – on June 1-2, 2018.
Race weekend begins with a 5K run on Friday night – where strollers are welcome and families of all sizes are encouraged to take part. The next morning, runners hit the pavement in the 5K rerun, 7.7 mile and half marathon.
All UMKC staff, faculty, students and alumni may register at a discounted rate or serve as volunteers. Participating staff and faculty can also earn points toward their wellness incentive programs. When registering for the Friday night or Saturday morning race events, use the code SOM2018DISC for 20 percent savings.
In addition to improving your health and wellness, your participation in the Hospital Hill Run supports many local charities, including the School of Medicine’s Sojourner Health Clinic, a student-run, free safety-net clinic helping the adult homeless and medically indigent in Kansas City. And volunteers are needed at all events, from handing out race packets, to cheering on athletes, to handing out medals at the finish line.
School of Medicine Dean Steven L. Kanter, M.D., has appointed Brandt Wible, M.D., interim chair of the Department of Radiology effective April 1, 2018. Under Wible’s leadership, the Department of Radiology will continue its important role in the School of Medicine’s undergraduate and postgraduate education and research programs.
Wible received his M.D. from the Rush Medical College. He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a fellowship in interventional radiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Wible is a former United States Peace Corps Volunteer and is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications and textbook chapters and recently published a second edition of a textbook on interventional procedures in radiology. His clinical interests include oncologic and vascular imaging and treatment and clinical research at Saint Luke’s Plaza and Lee’s Summit Hospitals.
Kanter expressed his thanks and appreciation to Jeffrey Kunin, M.D., for his leadership as interim chair of the UMKC School of Medicine from 2016 to 2018.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5-million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. At UMKC School of Medicine, researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., has found an innovative way to diagnose the early stages of the disease – with an eye exam.
The test was developed at the School of Medicine’s Vision Research Center, where Koulen serves as director of basic research. It provides a non-invasive, fast-screening tool for early detection of Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to Alzheimer’s.
Koulen’s work received a patent in January and has been attracting attention since. With support from the university’s Office of Technology Commercialization, it is now drawing interest from local manufacturers and diagnostic companies.
Koulen said the technology has received overtures from local investors interested in forming a startup company to license and further develop it, as well.
“There are business people now on our doorstep,” he said.
The test uses a microperimeter, a machine routinely used in eye exams to evaluate retina function, and typically takes less than half an hour.
And it is a relatively simple test for patients. One looks into the machine and presses a button when they see a flash of light. A computer program progresses through a series of flashing lights in various locations and intensities to measure the person’s retinal function.
“This is a technology that is already widely used by ophthalmologists,” Koulen said. “Over the years, we’ve found some different uses for it, and the Alzheimer’s diagnostics is one example of that. It’s basically a boring video game that you play for a few minutes.”
Because it was developed through clinical studies with patients and subjects, the transition from discovery to use in clinics could be relatively short. Compare that to other research, like creating a cancer drug, which could take decades of development.
“We’ve worked about half a decade on this,” Koulen said.
The technology evolved through researching therapies for glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, major eye diseases affecting the retina. These have been the focus of much of Koulen’s work at UMKC since joining the Vision Research Center in 2009.
The retina, a light-sensitive tissue, is part of the body’s central nervous system and is connected to the brain. Koulen and his team spent about seven years developing a still-growing database to define a baseline for healthy retina function. Using microperimetry, they were able to recognize subtle deviations from those baseline figures beyond normal aging. They linked those deviations to what they realized could be indicators of early-stage Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment.
“We were able to pick up that these patients very likely had the neurological disorder before the neurologist was able to diagnose the very earliest forms of the disease,” Koulen said.
There is no single exam for diagnosing Alzheimer’s. The current method is an often cumbersome, time-consuming process of eliminating other potential causes of a neurological disorder. Results can be inconclusive until the disease has progressed to a more-advanced stage. By that point, treatment and patient care has become a primary concern.
A more rapid and conclusive diagnosis is possible with the test Koulen has developed. It can easily be given in a clinic or other settings. That could make the technology enticing for investors.
“The nice thing about conducting the diagnostics in the clinic is that they’re non-invasive,” Koulen said. “You don’t have to draw blood. You don’t need anesthesia. It’s basically a very complicated eye exam, but it’s still an eye exam.”
More than 100 people showed up on a warm February afternoon to take part in a golf outing that raised more than $9,000 to support the UMKC School of Medicine’s Sojourner Health Clinic.
Sponsored by the school’s National Board of Alumni and Partners, the Swinging for Sojourner event on Feb. 25 drew a broad group of supporters and golf enthusiasts.
“Our School of Medicine Alumni Board did a fantastic job creating this event,” said Fred Schlichting, School of Medicine Director of Advancement. “It was great to see UMKC alumni, students, friends and family swinging the clubs and having fun. It was a picture perfect day for an incredible cause.”
Participants filled 19 playing bays at the Top Golf facility in Overland Park, Kansas, and the banquet room after the golf competitions. A number of individuals and community partners, as well as UMKC athletics, UMKC Foundation and UMKC Charter Schools, pitched in to host teams or serve as event sponsors.
Tracy Stevens, M.D., president of the School of Medicine alumni association, welcomed the participants during the banquet. Merriam Massey, program assistant for Sojourner Clinic, also addressed the crowd. Second-year student Mrudula Gandham, one of the more than 200 student volunteers who help to operate the clinic, also spoke about the impact of Sojourner Clinic on the community and the education of UMKC students.
Sojourner Clinic opened in 2004 in downtown Kansas City to provide free health care for the inner-city homeless population. Each year, volunteers provide more than 1,500 hours of service to treat some of the city’s most vulnerable patients.
Since its founding, the clinic has expanded to include volunteers and services of students from the School of Medicine’s physician assistants program, the UMKC dental school, the physical therapy program at Rockhurst College and others.
“One of the major assets of Sojourner is collaboration. Our School of Medicine students had the foresight to include other schools and community partners to create and sustain a first-class clinic,” Schlichting said. “We need to take this same approach to this event. It will be a point of emphasis to invite all of our partners in the UMKC Health Sciences District to get involved with Swinging for Sojourner next year.”
Schlichting and tournament organizers offered a special round of thanks to tournament and team sponsors.
Dr. Corey Iqbal ’03
Dr. Diana Dark ’80
Dr. Tracy Stevens ’90
Dr. Ahmed Awad ’89
Dr. Valerie Rader ’05
Team Sponsors Dr. Susan Storm ’85
Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick ’92
Dr. Steven Waldman ’77
Dr. Julie Brown-Longly ’00
UMKC Charter Schools Center
Truman Medical Center/University Health
Truman Medical Center Lakewood
Department of Community and Family Medicine
The Kansas City Medical Society recognized Richard Hellman, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E., a former School of Medicine docent and clinical professor of medicine, with its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. It is the organization’s highest honor.
Hellman served as a docent for nine years before stepping down in 1981 to design and direct Kansas City’s first comprehensive program for adult diabetes care. The practice now includes a 21-member multidisciplinary team, emphasizing a patient-centered integrative approach linking education and medical care.
Hellman served on the board and as president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, which in 2016 presented him with its Outstanding Clinical Endocrinologist Award. He also has been active with the American Medical Association-convened Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement.
Founding editor of the AACE patient safety exchange web site, Hellman has also served as section editor for Internal Medicine World Report and a reviewer for many other journals.
He served as president of the Kansas City Medical Society in 2000 and in 2015 received the organization’s Innovation Award for his accomplishments.
Joshua M.V. Mammen, 2017 society president, said Hellman had helped to advance medical knowledge through his publications and service to national and international organizations.
“Dr. Hellman has been a leader and innovator in the practice of diabetes care and also in the areas of patient safety and performance measurement, both locally and internationally,” Mammen said.
The medical society recognized Gary Pettett, M.D., professor emeritus and a past associate dean for the School of Medicine with the same award. He received the organization’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Kansas City Medical Society represents medical and osteopathic physicians throughout the greater Kansas City area.
Former School of Medicine Dean Betty M. Drees, M.D., F.A.C.P., has been appointed president of the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.
“We are fortunate to have recruited a physician-scientist of Betty Drees’ caliber to lead the Stowers graduate program,” said Robb Krumlauf, a member of the Board of Directors and scientific director of the Stowers Institute. “Her pioneering work in the study of type 2 diabetes mellitus and her experience training medical students in the art and science of biological investigation will prove invaluable in shaping our young scientists into tomorrow’s leaders.”
With more than 25 years in clinical practice, research, education, and administration, Drees is Dean Emerita and the immediate past dean of the School of Medicine. She served thirteen years in that role, from 2001-2014.
“It is an honor to be elected to lead the program at the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute,” said Drees. “The graduate school has a very committed faculty and talented predoctoral researchers, so I hope the administrative experience I bring can help them continue to grow. I want to help the researchers who join the program meet their career goals and get experience that prepares them for the future.”
Drees serves as an endocrinologist and a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics at UMKC, roles she will continue to serve concurrently with her role at the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute.
Her interests center around community impact and improved quality of health care, such as prevention of diabetes mellitus and prevention of fractures. She leads a study on community interventions to prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus, titled “Reducing the Burden of Diabetes in the KC Area: Accelerating Innovation through Collaboration” and funded by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. She currently serves as president of the Community Leadership Board of the Kansas City American Diabetes Association.
Students interested in emergency medicine took part in a day-long conference at the School of Medicine Clinical Training Facility, learning and practicing a variety of emergency procedures in the Youngblood Skills Lab.
The fifth-annual Emergency Medicine Interest Group Skills Conference drew 33 medical students who participated in work stations that included chest tubes insertions and Intraosseous infusion, lumbar punctures, suturing, emergency ultrasound, airway management, and emergency radiology.
Emily Hillman, M.D., assistant professor and emergency medicine clerkship directory, organized the conference with the help of interest group student officers Caroline Baghdikian, MS6, Joseph Bennett MS5, Deven Bhatia MS5, Jordann Dhuse, MS4, Brendan Kurtz, MS6, and Alie Reinbold, MS6.
A number of emergency medicine faculty members participated in leading the training sessions as well.
“The medical students truly value this experience,” Hillman said. “They put immense time and effort into planning this event. We will begin planning for next year soon.”