An update for alumni

In these challenging times, the School of Medicine endeavors to keep students, faculty and staff both safe and informed, while continuing to pursue our mission of education, research and service. I also want to keep you, my fellow alumni, up to date. Here are some key recent developments:

— On March 12, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, in consultation with Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer and our own Dr. Erica Carney, the Emergency Medical Services Medical Director, issued a state of emergency proclamation, and on March 16 issued a stay-at-home order. Other surrounding counties and municipalities followed suit. Gov. Kelly from the state of Kansas also issued a state of emergency proclamation on March 12, followed by a statewide stay-at-home order to run from March 30 through at least April 19.

— As a result, the School of Medicine building is closed except for “essential activities.” In practical terms, that means nearly all staff are working from home, and students cannot use their docent offices or other school space for study. Exceptions have been made for faculty researchers who must access the building for critical procedures or equipment management, and for our clinical faculty.

— We have moved to online curriculum for our biomedical science courses. We also are offering online clinical options as our students have moved out of the health care environments as part of efforts to limit personnel and conserve PPE. We join the vast majority of medical schools across the United States who are adding new classes on pandemics, telemedicine and intensive care of patients.

In addition, the American Association of Medical Colleges is curating a new, free and open resource that allows sharing of innovative educational approaches during the pandemic. The resource is called the iCollaborative Collection. Two of our humanities courses (Medicine and Literature: Pandemics, Plagues, and People — What Physicians In Training Think, and Medicine and the Visual Arts – Pandemics, Plagues, and People — What The Visual Arts Can Teach Us) have been accepted to the Collective. This national inclusion in an AAMC effort is just one more example of where we are making a difference during the pandemic.

Other examples include exceptional work and effort by our faculty that have ensured a smooth transition to online learning to keep all of our students on the path to graduation. There has been a Herculean effort on the part of our staff to ensure excellent student support during this time, and we have instituted virtual class meetings. And our students who are out in the community are providing child care for HCW, sponsoring blood drives and developing an interprofessional effort to collect and distribute personal protective equipment that is necessary to ensure our front-line workers are protected.

— Many valued social and professional activities have been postponed or canceled, including the Alumni Reunion. But some others continued, in creative new ways, such as our successful virtual Match Day. And we will be moving our 7th Annual Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day to a virtual event.

— We welcome Dr. Tyler Smith as our new Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She is the first M.D. to fill this role and takes over for Nate Thomas, Ph.D., who was with SOM from February 2018 to March 2020. Dr. Smith joined the Children’s Mercy Department of Pediatrics in February 2018 and is the General Academic Pediatrics fellowship program director. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina SOM and completed pediatric residency at the University of Maryland Medical System in 2008. She then completed her M.P.H. and fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and SOM. Seh was recognized as a mentor of the year by Hampton University, where she completed her undergraduate work, and is on the National Medical Association Editorial Board. Dr. Smith is nationally known for her work in medical education, mentorship, diversity, health care disparities and physician wellness.

We are immensely grateful for your continued support as we endeavor to provide the best possible medical education, research efforts and patient care, under unusually trying circumstances. Please continue to stay in touch — and we will do likewise, as our situation continues to evolve.

Sincerely,

Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78, Interim Dean