Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2019, UMKC School of Medicine is honoring William Arthur Cooper (M.D. ’92) with their Alumni Achievement Award.
A 30-year U.S. Army Reserve veteran, Cooper is a cardiothoracic surgeon who has performed thousands of life-saving surgeries. As founding director of a nationally recognized heart surgery program, his goal is to teach patients to stay heart healthy.
You devote a lot of time to educating people on heart disease prevention — including writing a book and appearing on the Steve Harvey television show. Why is it important to you to educate others on preventing heart disease?
I am one of eight children in my family and one of three that are still alive today. Everyone else has died, including my mother, of preventable diseases. By writing and speaking, I have the opportunity to inform thousands, not just those who happen to need my surgical skills.
In addition to your M.D. from UMKC, you’ve also earned your MBA and several business certificates. Where does your passion for education stem from?
My father and my curiosity for learning. I reject the notion that doctors should narrow their professional focus on medicine alone. Why not learn and grow as much as you can as long as you can?
How did UMKC prepare you for success?
There is no doubt in my mind that the one thing that UMKC prepared me for more than anything else was bedside manner and how to approach and develop a solid patient-physician relationship — from the clinical evaluation, diagnosis and treatment to the interpersonal relationship and trust development. UMKC more than prepared me to be a doctor from day one of my residency. I still utilize those skills today.
About the UMKC Alumni Awards
Cooper will be honored at the 2019 UMKC Alumni Awards on March 15. Proceeds from the event will support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards events have raised more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.