The UMKC School of Medicine has announced that Brian Carter, M.D., will serve as the next William T. and Marjorie Sirridge Professor in Medical Humanities.
Carter joined the School of Medicine and Children’s Mercy Hospital in 2012 as a Professor of Pediatrics and Bioethics. He serves as co-director of the Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center’s Pediatric Bioethics Certificate Course and practices at Children’s Mercy Hospital as a neonatologist.
An internationally-recognized expert in medical bioethics and neonatal palliative care, Dr. Carter is the recipient of numerous NIH grants. He has published extensively in the areas of neonatology, neonatal intensive care, palliative care, and bioethics. Carter is the author of three textbooks on neonatal intensive and palliative care.
Carter is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He completed his postgraduate training at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
He is board certified in pediatrics and neonatal-perinatal medicine. Carter served as an active duty U.S. Army Medical Corps officer from 1983 though 1996 and is a decorated Gulf War veteran.
The William T. and Marjorie Sirridge Professorship in Medical Humanities was endowed in 2008 though the generosity of Drs. William and Marjorie Sirridge, two of the UMKC School of Medicine’s Founding Docents.
Physicians in obstetrics and gynecology continually face complex, evolving ethical questions, and they need thoughtful processes and diverse support to make their best decisions.
That was the message of Susan M. Mou, M.D., an associate professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who delivered the Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., Outstanding Women in Medicine Lecture on Sept. 15 at the school.
Mou started her address, “Ethics in Reproductive Medicine,” by saying she was a general obstetrician/gynecologist and “not a bioethical scholar.” Rather than offering answers, she wanted to share what’s going on “in the trenches” and get students thinking about ever-present ethical issues.
Mou said such issues and questions had existed throughout her career, starting with her residency at the University of Rochester, when steroid use for likely premature deliveries was relatively new. The questions have kept changing, she noted, with advances in many areas, from in vitro fertilization and reproductive endocrinology to HIV treatment.
Such questions often involve weighing possibly competing interests, Mou said, such as fetal health versus maternal health, or a mother’s autonomy and emotional needs versus what appears best for her physical health.
Difficult pregnancies make for difficult questions, such as when a fetal condition makes a live birth unlikely, and interventions to promote live birth might not be in the mother’s long-term health interests. But physicians must consider whether to take those steps, and how far to go with them, Mou said, when the mother has expressed a great desire for the chance to hold her live baby.
According to Mou, the models for evaluating such questions also have evolved, so that a woman’s culture and living conditions and communal network can be considered, along with traditional principals such as autonomy, justice and beneficence.
Treatment and care can be more effective, for example, when they account for barriers such as transportation and work schedules, rather than judging a woman for missing neonatal care appointments. Mou also said approaches that see care for pregnant women as the best way to also care for their developing fetuses can overcome past perceptions of conflict between maternal and fetal well-being.
The growth of bioethics studies and decision committees has resulted in practicing physicians getting more help and support in making the toughest calls, Mou said.
“We need to be aware of ethical principles and practices. We need to utilize ethics committees and other resources. It’s so important to have the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities & Bioethics” at the School of Medicine.
Though Mou claimed no credentials as a bioethicist, she has been a leader in women’s health teaching and treatment for more than three decades.
She is the director of the Breast Clinic and OB Simulation for Truman Medical Centers, and has special interests in general obstetrics and gynecology, pediatric and adolescent gynecology, peri-menopausal issues, vaginitis, and infection disease in obstetrics and gynecology.
Her Sirridge lecture followed more than 90 presentations she has given from coast to coast, including Milestones and STI Lectures at UMKC. Mou’s more than 60 publications include research studies, book chapters and abstracts. She provides peer review for the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine and for abstracts for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Mou began teaching at the School of Medicine in 1984. She was director of the school’s residency program in obstetrics and gynecology with Truman Medical Centers and Children’s Mercy Hospital from July 2012 to September 2014. Mou was section chief for gynecology surgery at Children’s Mercy in the 1990s.
Several members of the Sirridge family attended the lecture this year. The Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., Outstanding Women in Medicine Lectureship was established in 1997 to recognize Dr. Sirridge’s dedication, compassion and advancement of patient care and medical education in Kansas City.
Art has long been a tool used to enhance one’s understanding of the science of medicine at the UMKC School of Medicine. Stuart Munro, M.D., adjunct professor of medical humanities and bioethics, discussed how a balance of the two makes for a more effective physician.
Munro was the keynote speaker on Thursday, March 24, for the 22nd annual William T. Sirridge, M.D., Medical Humanities Lecture.
Patrick Sirridge, one of Sirridge’s four children, opened the lecture with a brief photo history of his father during his time as a physician and docent at the School of Medicine. William Sirridge and his wife, Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., served as two of the school’s founding docents. Their fondness for the arts and literature led the couple to establish the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities. The office is now part of the school’s Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics that was created in 2013.
Munro, a long-time faculty member at the School of Medicine, served as inaugural chair of the department. He explained that in the early years of the school’s history, docents instructed students in not only the clinical skills of medicine, but also taught the basic science classes.
“And I’m sure that Bill and Marjorie managed to sneak in some humanities along the way,” he said.
Blending the various arts that are part of the school’s humanities curriculum with the science of medicine enables physicians to see their patients in a different light and with a fuller understanding, Munro said. He said it also helps them to grow their body of medical knowledge, while achieving greater satisfaction in their careers and personal lives.
Medicine demands a balance of the two, Munro said.
“Science is important, but it’s not enough,” he said. “The humanities are important, but they’re not enough. Science and the humanities, we have to find the middle ground.”
Munro joined the School of Medicine in 1985 as an assistant professor of psychiatry. He served as chair of psychiatry at the School of Medicine for nearly 12 years, and currently is course director for behavioral science and for the humanities course in music and medicine.
“Students are as creative and as eager to find their humanity as ever,” he said. “If we can help them do it, then I don’t feel pessimistic about the future of medicine.”
Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D. ’79, says he was struck by the concept of mercy as a young medical student just getting started at the School of Medicine. The notion of compassion toward others continued to develop further throughout his medical school career by following the lead of the school’s docents, who modeled for students a compassionate style of care.
Today, Hall-Flavin shares those same characteristics of mercy and compassion with his patients and others as an associate professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Hall-Flavin spoke on the Quality of Mercy in delivering the annual William T. Sirridge, M.D., Medical Humanities Lecture on Thursday, March 25, at the School of Medicine.
His talk explored the meaning of mercy and its role in our traditions, the spiritual domain and in its relationship to justice. He also shared how William Sirridge and his wife, Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., who served as Hall-Flavin’s docent, taught medical students how to treat their patients with empathy.
“He and Dr. Marjorie, along with other founding faculty, set the bar for docents for this medical school then, now and always for the future,” Hall-Flavin said.
Hall-Flavin said that William Sirridge often shared stories of medicine and caring for patients that filled his students with confidence and good humor.
“It was like being around a medical camp fire,” Hall-Flavin said.
The day turned out to be an extra special affair for Hall-Flavin. Prior to giving this year’s medical humanities lecture, Hall-Flavin received word that he was selected to take part in a master’s program in medical humanities at the King’s College in London. He has been a visitor at the center for neuroethics at the University of Oxford and is currently a member of the Oxford Round Table, an organization that promotes education, art, science, religion and charity through academic conferences and scholarly papers.
Music and medicine have always gone hand in hand, said Lisa Wong, M.D., during her “Medicine and Music” lecture at the School of Medicine on June 5.
“In fact, Apollo was not only the god of sun, truth and healing, but he was also a musician,” she said.
The Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics invited Wong, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a pediatrician with Milton Pediatrics in Boston, to share her experience with the healing power of music. A trained musician since age 4, Wong is the author
of Scales to Scalpels: Doctors Who Practice the Healing Arts of Music and Medicine, which tells the story of the volunteer musicians from the Boston medical community who comprise the Longwood Symphony Orchestra.
Wong grew up in Hawaii and attended Punahou School for kindergarten through twelfth grade. Punahou boasts graduates who are musically inclined and have gone on to win Tony awards and to be the president of the United States, Barrack Obama. After graduating from Harvard, Wong attended NYU Medical School where she found colleagues who were also artists. Since then, she has been able to incorporate music into her daily life and career and was president of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra for 20 years.
During her interactive lecture, Wong discussed the power of music and its role in medicine and healing.
“Learning music is similar to medical training,” she said. “Is it music or medicine when you’re evaluating data, looking at a piece of music or a lab sheet – looking for patterns.”
She has traveled the world with various volunteer efforts, including El Sistema, a music-for-social-change program in Venezuela.
“I always knew I wanted to take care of children through music,” Wong said.
Wong met her husband, Lynn Chang, professor at the Boston Conservatory and world renown violinist, while an undergraduate student at Harvard. Chang told the School of Medicine audience his story of performing during the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony and played “Jasmine Flower,” which he performed at the ceremony honoring Liu Xiaobo. He also explained the power music can have for a community. At the time of the 2010 ceremony, the Chinese government did not allow any Chinese citizens to attend the ceremony.
Xiaobo was an advocate of political reform and human rights in China and was publically critical of the Chinese communist regime. He was a prominent figure during the Tiananmen Square protests, calling for peaceful negotiations between students and the government. Xiaobo was famously absent for the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, as he was still imprisoned by the Chinese government, and his medal and diploma were displayed on an empty chair.
In the past, “Jasmine Flower” served as an anthem for the Chinese people, Chang said, and after he played it at the ceremony, it was banned for three years in China. But, Chang said, it had a profound effect on those who learned it was played for Xiaobo, bringing the sense of camaraderie back among the people.
Music is used in many ways. At each Nobel Prize ceremony, music is played to highlight its significance. Wong said the best kind of music is that played from the heart. The Longwood Symphony Orchestra is full of those, she said, who play with compassion.
“There aren’t a lot of business orchestras or law orchestras,” she said. “But there’s something about music and medicine that brings us together.”