All posts by Kelly Edwards

Distinguished SOM professor and alum Michael Weaver, M.D., announces retirement

Michael L. Weaver, M.D., FACEP, CDM, clinical professor in emergency medicine and early graduate of the medical school, has announced his retirement as of July 1. Weaver was the first African-American to complete the school’s full six-year curriculum, graduating in 1977.

During his years as a physician, Weaver has championed the School of Medicine’s efforts in diversity and inclusion while earning a national reputation as a leader in emergency medicine and an advocate for victims of abuse.

In addition to his teaching role at the School of Medicine through Saint Luke’s Hospital, Weaver served in many capacities at the school. These included being a member of the Selection Council, the Diversity Council, and chair of the alumni Minority Faculty Recruitment Committee and the Alumni Retention Committee. He established a minority scholarship at the school in 2004, and was the first African- American to hold the title of clinical professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. He has provided education to the School of Medicine through Grand Rounds and noon conferences, and has provided mentorship within the Summer Scholars Program.

Weaver is the 1997 winner of the school’s E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing award and is also an E. Grey Dimond Fellow.

He served as medical director of Saint Luke’s Kansas City Hospital’s Level I trauma emergency services for 17 years and was the founding chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine. He has provided emergency medicine oversight for MAST and Life Flight Ambulance systems for more than 15 years and was appointed by Missouri Governors Carnahan and Ashcroft to chair EMS for Missouri.

Since 1980, he has been the medical director of Saint Luke’s Health System’s Clinical Forensic Program, providing care for victims of elderly/child abuse, sexual assault, interpersonal violence and trauma. In this role, Weaver has also been a consultant for the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the White House. He has authored numerous articles, edited books/journals and lectured internationally.

For the past 15 years, Weaver has led the Critical Mass Gathering event, a mentoring program for underrepresented minority medical students at UMKC, University of Kansas and Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. To continue that work, Weaver founded Mission Vision Project KC, a nonprofit that aims to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the Kansas City health care workforce.

Weaver says, “It’s hard to be it, if you can’t see it!” He plans to create age-appropriate mentorship opportunities for K-12 to show underrepresented minorities that they can see and aspire to be doctors or dentists, pharmacists, nurses, paramedics, biomedical engineers, etc. He will continue working with health care organizations, educational institutions, and community partners to raise funds to support these goals.

With retirement, Weaver plans to spend more time with his family and continue his work with Mission Vision Project KC.

UMKC Med School’s New St. Joe Campus Recognized for Vaccine Efforts

Students at the new UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus take part in an orientation session.

It didn’t take long for the inaugural class at the UMKC School of Medicine’s new St. Joseph campus to make an impact on rural medicine.

Emma Smith, a medical student at UMKC School of Medicine’s St. Joseph campus, gives a COVID vaccination to fellow student Wes Stark.

In January, as the COVID vaccines were ramping up, the entire class of 20 UMKC medicine students at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph took up the charge to become fully vaccinated vaccinators themselves. For their efforts, the Patterson Family Foundation, a Kansas City family-led foundation promoting rural health care, awarded the school and Mosaic a $15,000 gift to use in recognition and support of their rural medicine vaccination efforts.

“A lot of individuals as well as the medical centers they work for really put a lot of resources, time and energy into getting the (rural) population vaccinated,” said Steve Waldman, M.D., dean of the school’s St. Joseph campus. “This is a very gracious gesture from the Patterson Family Foundation in recognition of the Mosaic-UMKC School of Medicine partnership and our efforts working in tandem to get the rural community vaccinated.”

The School of Medicine opened the St. Joseph campus in January in an effort to address the need for more rural physicians. Waldman said nobody realized just how quickly the effort would begin paying dividends.

UMKC students at Mosaic were only weeks into their medical school training when they became certified to administer vaccines and joined the volunteer effort to reach rural patients. They even administered shots to members of the school’s faculty as part of their vaccine training.

“The vision of the St. Joseph campus to increase additional rural health care providers was achieved and it occurred just a few weeks into the start of classes,” Waldman said. “In partnership with Mosaic Life Care, 100 percent of our students were trained as vaccinators and 100 percent of them volunteered to administer COVID vaccines. We didn’t have to wait four years for our students to start giving back. It happened immediately.”

Davin Turner, D.O., chief medical officer at Mosaic Life Care, said: “The students from UMKC School of Medicine were an amazing resource for Mosaic and their contribution was invaluable. We were honored to work side by side with the students as they assisted with our vaccination efforts. We could not have administered the more than 47,000 first and second doses without their tireless efforts. To have them part of our Mosaic community has been an immediate benefit, and we can’t thank them enough. We are grateful others such as the Patterson Family Foundation recognized their efforts as well.”

The gift from the Patterson Foundation will be used to reward and recognize those who gave their time and in some cases took the risk early on to volunteer before being fully vaccinated.

Waldman said part of the funds would also go to training additional vaccinators.

“Hopefully they’ll never be needed, but we’re excited about being a lot more prepared,” he said.

Medicine students make strong showing in annual Health Sciences Student Research Summit

Health Sciences Student Research SummitThe UMKC School of Medicine made a strong showing with 10 students among the winners in the 10th annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit. For the second year in a row, the event that takes place each May was held in a week-long virtual, online format.

Students from the schools of medicine, pharmacy and biological and chemical sciences shared their research with 20 PowerPoint and oral presentations and 31 poster presentation during the week. More than 50 students participated in this year’s event.

Caroline Olson won first place with her oral PowerPoint presentation in the graduate division for fifth- and sixth-year medical students, master’s degree and Pharm.D. students and medical residents. Sejla Turnadzic and Karina Shah tied for third place for poster presentations.

In the undergraduate division for first-year through fourth-year medicine and biological and chemical sciences students, Parth Patel and Rohan Ahuja tied for first place in poster presentations. Siddarth Balaji was the first-place winner for oral PowerPoint presentation. Anika Mittal place second and Ahuja was third in poster presentations. Josephine Nwanka and Anthony Le tied for second and Fahad Qureshi was third in oral PowerPoint presentations.

The summit promotes collaborations across disciplines and schools to produce economic, health, education and quality of life benefits for the Kansas City community in a forum that brings the UMKC health sciences community together to highlight student research.

A panel of judges from the School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy and Children’s Mercy Kansas City hospital selected the top three in each category.

2021 Health Sciences Student Research Summit

Graduate Clinical Poster Presentations

(BA/MD and MD Years 5 and 6 medical students, master’s students, Pharm.D. students and medical residents)

1st Place: Nitish R. Mishra, School of Pharmacy. Method Development of Stable Isotope-Labeled Marfey’s Reagent Derivatized Physiological Amino Acids Stereoisomers Using LCMS 9030 Q-ToF. Authors: Nitish R. Mishra, Amar Deep Sharma and William G. Gutheil. Mentor: William G. Gutheil

2nd Place: Jordan Frangello, School of Pharmacy. Impact of a Pharmacist-led Preventative Screening Intervention During Comprehensive Medication Reviews. Authors: Jordan Frangello, Yifei Liu and Chad Cadwell. Mentor: Yifei Liu

3rd Place Tie: Sejla Turnadzic, School of Medicine. Influence of Racial Disparities on Length of Stay in Hospital in Patients with Cerebral Venous Thrombosis. Authors: Leslie Shang, Sadhika Jagannathan, Sejla Turnadzic, Divya Jain, Monica Gaddis, Jean-Baptiste Le Pichon. Mentor: Jean-Baptiste Le Pichon

3rd Place Tie: Karina Shah, School of Medicine. The Impact of COVID-19 on the Clinical Component of the Surgical Clerkship. Authors: Karina Shah, Donya Jahandar, Christopher Veit, Jennifer Quaintance and Michael Moncure. Mentor: Michael Moncure

Graduate Oral PowerPoint Presentations

(BA/MD and MD Years 5 and 6 medical students, master’s students, Pharm.D. students and medical residents)

1st Place: Caroline Olson, School of Medicine. Systemic Fat Embolism-Induced Accumulation of Fat Droplets in the Rat Retina. Authors: Caroline G. Olson, Landon Rohowetz, M.D., and Peter Koulen, Ph.D. Mentor: Peter Koulen

2nd Place: Shelby Brown, School of Biological and Computer Sciences. Phase separation of both a plant virus movement protein and cellular factors support virus-host interactions. Authors: Shelby Brown and Jared May. Mentor: Jared May

3rd Place: Nitish R. Mishra, School of Pharmacy. Application of LCMS 9030 Q-ToF in Biomarkers Analysis for Pre-term vs. Term Delivery Patients. Authors: Nitish R. Mishra, Donald DeFranco, Paula Monaghan-Nichols and William G. Gutheil. Mentor: William G. Gutheil

Undergraduate Poster Presentations

(BA/MD and MD Years 1 to 4 medical students, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences students)

1st Place Tie: Parth Patel, School of Medicine. Predicting Recurrent Coarctation of the Aorta in Infants with Single Ventricle Heart Disease Using Home Monitoring Data. Authors: Parth S. Patel, Shil Shah, Keith Feldman, Lori A. Erickson, Amy Ricketts, Hayley Hancock and Ryan A. Romans. Mentor: Ryan Romans

1st Place Tie: Rohan Ahuja, School of Medicine. Intracellular calcium changes in intact mouse heart mediated by Fibroblast Growth Factor 23 – implications for chronic kidney disease. Authors: Rohan Ahuja, Shaan Patel, Nabeel Rasheed, Derek Wang, Julian A. Vallejo and Michael J. Wacker. Mentor: Michael Wacker

2nd Place: Anika Mittal, School of Medicine. Vascular Inflammation in the Brain Following Fat Emboli. Authors: Anika Mittal, Fahad Qureshi, Suban Burale, Neerupma Silswal, Alan Poisner, Agostino Molteni and Paula Monaghan Nichols. Mentor: Paula Monaghan Nichols

3rd Place: Rohan Ahuja, School of Medicine. Absence of Cardiac Immune Pathology in a Rat Model of Fat Embolism Syndrome. Authors: VanDillen A, VanDillen M, Hamidpour S, MateescuV, SilswalN, Wacker M, Patel S, Vallejo J, Ahuja R, Monaghan Nichols AP, SalzmanG, Poisner A, Molteni A. Mentor: Michael Wacker

Undergraduate Oral PowerPoint Presentations

(BA/MD and MD Years 1 to 4 Medical students, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences students)

1st Place: Siddharth Balaji, School of Medicine. Comparing Usage of FDA 510(k) and Premarket Approval Pathways within Orthopaedics to Other Specialties. Authors: Siddharth Balaji and Jonathan Dubin. Author: Jonathan Dubin

2nd Place Tie: Josephine Nwankwo, School of Medicine. Increasing Representation of Black Women in Orthopedics Starts with Medical Students. Authors: Josephine Nwankwo and Ali Khan. Mentor: Dr. Ali Khan

2nd Place Tie: Anthony Le, School of Medicine. Patient Perception of Paralysis-Inducing Spinal Cord Injury Through Twitter and Instagram. Avi Gajjar, Anthony Huy Dinh Le, Rachel C Jacobs and Nitin Agarwal. Mentor: Avi Gajjar

3rd Place: Fahad Qureshi, School of Medicine. Social Determinants for Explaining Disparities in COVID-19 Rates: A Population Analysis From 10 Large Metropolitan Areas. Authors: Aarya Ramprasad, Fahad Qureshi, Bridgette L. Jones and Brian R. Lee. Mentor: Bridgette Jones

SOM event puts focus on Quality and Patient Safety

Click on the image to watch the 2021 Quality Patient Safety Day event.

More than 50 students, residents and fellows participated in the 8th annual Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day with poster and oral presentations on May 21 at the School of Medicine.

The event provides an opportunity to present research and learn from experts in the field of patient safety.

Mallika Joshi, MS 3, and Kayla Reifel, MS3, captured the top student honors for their abstracts, while Megan Hamner, M.D., and Cree Kachelski, M.D., received the top awards for residents and fellows. The four were selected to give oral presentations of their research.

Joshi presented on “Improving the Sleep Quality of UMKC Medical Students: A Quality Improvement Project.” Reifel presented a project titled “Improving Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema Detection – Creating a Standard Practice for Preoperative Arm Measurements.”

In the resident/fellows category, Hamner, a second-year pediatric infectious disease fellow, gave an oral prestation on her winning abstract, “Improving Skin and Soft Tissue Infection Antibiotic Duration Concordance with National Guidelines in Pediatric Urgent Care Clinics.” Kachelski, a second-year pediatric emergency medicine fellow, presented “Improving time to antibiotics in open fractures in the Children’s Mercy Emergency Department.”

Three students, Parth Patel, MS3, Lakshmi Pryiya, MS5, and Aarya Ramprasad, MS3, and three residents/fellows, Bemjamin Hoag, M.D., Raed Qarajeh, M.D., and Ray Segebrecht, M.D., received honorable mention  for their poster presentations.

A complete list of student and resident/fellows oral and poster presentations and videos of the oral presentations are available on the School of Medicine research web site.

Jennifer S. Myers, M.D., professor of clinical medicine and the director of Quality and Safety Education for the Department of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, gave a keynote address. She is the Director of Penn’s Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety (CHIPS) fellowship program and oversees all aspects of quality and safety education for the Department of Medicine.

Myers talked about the history of the quality improvement and patient safety movement and its influence on medical education. She also discussed health and health care equity as a cornerstone of quality health care.

She said the health care delivery system has several goals for providing quality care in that it be safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable and patient centered. However, she said that “equity has been the forgotten name of health care quality until very recently.”

“I do think academic medicine is evolving to embrace clinical quality and safety, but I think we still have work to do,” Myers said. “Achieving health equity and health care equity are integral to this work.”

School of Medicine recognizes graduates, Senior Award winners

Graduates of the School of Medicine participated in a unique, two-day commencement ceremony at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

A combined ceremony on the afternoon of May 15 brought together graduates of the schools of School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy. The following afternoon, UMKC held a ceremony to celebrate May 2020 and December graduates.

The School of Medicine recognized students with its annual senior awards. Five SOM students were also selected by the university as Dean of Student Honors recipients.

Mario Castro, M.D., ’88, who received the School’s 2021 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award, addressed the graduation classes on Saturday afternoon, saying they would remember this time like no other in their careers.

He shared three particular thoughts. Castro told the graduates to have faith in their training and themselves. He reminded them to be inquisitive and maintain the curiosity that got interested in medicine to begin with. And, he encouraged them to pursue their passions as a physician or health care provider.

“Class of 2021, have faith, question and pursue. Take Wing,” he said.

2021 Dean of Students Honor Recipients

Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt
Charles Burke
Varsha Muthukumar
Isabella Nair
Ginikachukwu Osude

2021 UMKC School of Medicine Senior Awards

Anesthesiologist Assistant Program

Master of Science in Anesthesia Student Ambassador Award
Taylor Brundage
Alex Sextro

Physician Assistant Program

Pi Alpha Honor Society
Nicholas Farace
Chandra Grimes

M.D. Awards

ACP Senior Student Book Award
Varsha Muthukumar

Bette W. Hamilton Memorial Award for Excellence in Immunology
Varsha Muthukumar

Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Award for Research
Yicheng Bao

Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Basic Science Award
Kavelin Rumalla

Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Harry S. Jonas, M.D., Award
Charlie Burke

J. Michael de Ungria, M.D., Humanitarian Award
Tom Mathews

James F. Stanford, M.D., Patient Advocate Scholarship
Claire Wolber

Laura L. Backus, M.D., Award for Excellence in Pediatrics
Maggie Urschler

Lee Langley Award
Brandon Wesche

Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence
Sarah Jacob
Jacob Perera

Merck Manual for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education
Brandon Wesche
Vishnu Harikumar

Richardson K. Noback Founders’ Award for Clinical Excellence
Brandon Wesche

Ratilal S. Shah Medical Scholarship Fund
Yicheng Bao

Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award
Vishal Mittal

Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Award for Excellence in Microbiology
Sarah Jacob

Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Award for Excellence in Pathology
Prarthana Patel

UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Medical Education
Vishnu Harikumar

UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Award Association Outstanding Senior Partner
Anna Curtis

Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
Sarah Jacob
Prarthana Patel
Rashmi Thimmapuram
Komal Kumar
Koral Shah
Alisha Shah

 

Giving back is part of 2021 Take Wing winner’s blood

Mario Castro, M.D., ’88, is the School of Medicine’s 2021 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award recipient.

Mario Castro, M.D., a specialist in pulmonary care and 1988 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine, received the school’s prestigious E. Grey Dimond Take Wing Award and delivered the annual Take Wing lectureship on May 17.

After congratulating and offering encouraging words to School of Medicine graduates two days earlier during a commencement ceremony at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Castro spoke on the care of patients with severe asthma, a major focus of his research career.

He also discussed respiratory health in the developing work and his work to battle COVID-19 on a global level. Castro serves as principal investigator and director of Frontiers, a clinical and translational research institute at the University of Kansas. The organization collaborates with leaders of health care institutions throughout the region including the UMKC School of Medicine.

While much of the country anxiously awaited the first vaccines to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Castro was leading a group of researchers in the Kansas City area with a much broader focus.

The goal was a global vaccine that could be taken to the farthest reaches of the world. Vaccines that were being produced for distribution in the United States required deep freezing, said Castro, whose team studied the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“If you’re in the middle of Africa, that won’t work very well,” Castro said. “We needed a vaccine like the AstraZeneca that just requires simple refrigeration, that you can take in a cooler and you can take it anywhere with you.”

Working with partners throughout Kansas City, the collaborative embarked on one of the largest vaccine studies in the country. The study enrolled more than 500 participants in Kansas City who were part of an effort that has since developed the COVID vaccine most used world-wide.

The vaccine has been approved for use in more than 30 countries. More than 200 million doses have been applied. It is also part of the World Health Organization’s plan to reach those world’s lower socioeconomic countries.

Castro has already launched three additional National Institutes of Health-funded studies to combat COVID infection.

“It’s really been an honor to participate in and lead that effort in the midst of this pandemic,” Castro said. “It’s definitely been a help on a world-wide basis to get a vaccine that will be easy to transport and be more readily available around the world.”

Castro joined the KU School of Medicine in 2019 as chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine and vice chair for clinical and translational research. Before that, he spent 25 years in St. Louis at the Washington University School of Medicine where he oversaw the asthma and airway translational research unit that conducted as many as 30 clinical trials at a time.

A renowned leader in his specialty, he has received numerous honors for his work including two awards from the American Lung Association of Eastern Missouri and the CHEST Foundation’s Humanitarian Recognition Award.

“What UMKC always taught me well was how to take care of a patient and how to listen to a patient,” Castro said.

That training also paved the way for Castro to create the International Medical Assistance Foundation, an organization that has been reaching the underserved in Honduras.

He oversees a board that regularly sends volunteer teams of ENT, orthopedics, cardiology, neurology and other specialists to remote areas of Honduras. Twelve years ago, the Honduran government provided $3 million and Castro’s foundation raised another $3 million through church donations and fundraisers to build and supply a 100-bed hospital and clinic, Hospital Hermano Pedro, in Catacamas, Honduras.

Just prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic, Castro and his team saw and treated 1,300 pulmonary patients in less than a week at the hospital.

“I immigrated to this country in 1965,” said Castro, who was born in Matanzas, Cuba. “It’s been part of my blood to give back to those who are disadvantaged. We want to give back to those who are less fortunate and certainly it helps us appreciate what we have here in this country.”

Seven inducted to SOM chapter of AOA honor society

The School of Medicine chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha welcomed seven new members into the medical honor society as the Class of 2021 inductees.

This year’s inductees are juniors Kartik Depala, Yen Luu, Madhavi Murali and Andrew Peterson, and seniors Charles Burke, Jacob Gowan and Sara Wells.

Selection to AOA membership is  an honor recognizing one’s dedication to the profession and art of healing. It is based on character and values such as honesty, honorable conduct, morality, virtue, unselfishness, ethical ideals, dedication to serving others and leadership. Membership also recognizes excellence in academic scholarship.

 

Five from School of Medicine among 2021 Dean of Student Honor Recipients

Five students from the School of Medicine have been recognized for their scholastic performance, community leadership and service as recipients of 2021 Dean of Students Honor Recipients.

The five 2021 graduating students – Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt, Charles Burke, Varsha Muthukumar, Isabella Nair and Ginikachukwu Osude – were honored for excelling in both academic achievement ans service.

“Every semester, it is our pleasure to host a breakfast in celebration of the accomplishments of the Dean of Students Honor Recipients.  While this semester has been a bit different, we wanted to continue this tradition by virtually celebrating your achievements,” shared Co-Interim Dean of Students Keichanda Dees-Burnett. [watch the video]

This program recognizes the exceptional students who maintain high scholastic performance while actively participating in University and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom.

“You are an exceptional group of people.  Despite the demands of family, work and studies, you made time to give back to the community.  When you saw a need, you worked to fill it.  You are humanitarians, leaders and philanthropists and you should rightfully be proud of yourselves,” said Co-Interim Dean of Students Todd Wells. [watch the video]

Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt – School of Medicine [watch the video]

Charles Burke – School of Medicine

Varsha Muthukumar – School of Medicine [watch the video]

Isabella Nair – School of Medicine [watch the video]

Ginikachukwu Osude – School of Medicine [watch the video]

UMKC health sciences students play major role in COVID-19 vaccine efforts

At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, students from the four Health Sciences Campus schools have been busy in the COVID-19 vaccination effort, volunteering thousands of hours of service.

Third-year medical student Nikki Seraji said she recognizes that nurses and pharmacists often bear the brunt of the work of actually administering vaccines. So, when Stefanie Ellison, M.D., UMKC School of Medicine associate dean for learning initiatives, asked for medical student volunteers to become certified vaccinators, Seraji jumped at the opportunity.

“I’m studying the medical field and going to be doing this for a living and felt like I couldn’t help out enough,” she said. “When the opportunity to volunteer (as a vaccinator) came in in mid-January, I wanted to take advantage.”

Ellison said that 66 UMKC medical students from years one through six have been trained and certified to give vaccines. The students give vaccinations daily at the Truman Medical Center COVID-19 vaccination center at the University Health 2 building. They’ve helped with the School of Pharmacy’s campus vaccine clinic, assisted in vaccination events at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Zoo, Hallmark and the Missouri Cerner campus among other events and clinics.

At the school’s new St. Joseph Campus, Steve Waldman, M.D., campus dean, said all of his students have been certified as vaccinators and have given vaccines at the St. Joseph Mosaic Life Care vaccination center. Many, he said, have participated in other community vaccination outreach events as well.

Ellison said she works daily to partner the School of Medicine with vaccine clinics and events across Kansas City.

“Our students are so wonderful that when TMC has a busy day, I can email or text our students to help in a pinch and three to five students show up to help,” she said.

Students at the School of Pharmacy are trained and certified to give vaccines during the second year of their curriculum. As of mid-March, pharmacy students and faculty had volunteered 4,400 volunteer hours to administer more than 17,500 doses of vaccines at 36 events throughout the state.

Jane Beyer, a third-year pharmacy student, said she began helping administer COVID vaccines in December as soon as they were available.

“It is exciting that as student pharmacists we are able to get out there and really help the community and be part of the solution to COVID-19” she said. “It’s a very rewarding feeling to be part of the vaccine efforts in Kansas City.”

Medical student Seraji echoed that thought and admitted being a bit anxious when she was learning to administer a shot. With the help of the nurses who trained her, she was able to quickly adapt. Now she volunteers as a vaccinator at least once a week as her class schedule allows.

“I was definitely anxious when I was getting certified but I did maybe 20 or 30 (shots) the first time I was on my own and you get into a routine,” she said. “I’m trying to think how many that I’ve vaccinated. I don’t know but it’s definitely more than 80 or 90.”

Next door on the UMKC Health Sciences campus, nursing student Ciera Ayala got involved when the vaccination efforts were made an option for her clinical rotations. In fact, she has been part of eight vaccination events, most of them at Truman.

When she was vaccinated, Ayala said, she felt relief and “like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.” Now she is happy to share that feeling with all the people she inoculates.

“I find it very gratifying,” Ayala said. “I got to be a part of history, and it felt really good to be a part of the efforts to end this pandemic. It was also relieving, but also a little overwhelming, when we would have a line of hundreds of people for hours and hours ready to get their vaccine. It makes me happy that people are trusting in science!”

Ayala doesn’t remember any particular vaccine recipients, but she said, “it just felt really good when people were appreciative of our efforts.

“Health care workers don’t often get the recognition that is deserved, so when people recognized how hard we were working, it felt amazing.”

From the School of Dentistry, 119 third-and fourth-year students bolstered the ranks of student vaccinators after they were trained in early April. They already knew how to give the more involved injections needed to numb dental patients but had to learn the quicker technique for vaccines.

They were trained by Meghan Wendland, D.D.S., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the dental school, with help from faculty at the School of Nursing and Health Studies. They quickly joined in at Truman and at events for their fellow UMKC students.

One dental student, Tiara Fry, said she was “a little nervous” the first few times she gave the shot, “but once I got comfortable with it, it was great! It felt amazing to be a part of diminishing the spread of a virus during a pandemic.”

Fry said she sympathized with people who were skeptical or fearful but hoped to share the relief she felt when she was vaccinated.

“I knew it was for a great purpose to do my part in protecting myself and those around me,” she said. “I felt for those who were extremely afraid of needles. Many would tell me right before I gave the injection, so I tried my best to make them feel as comfortable as possible.”

Beyer said that working with the vaccine effort has made her a valuable resource to friends and family, helping them stay up to date on the latest information and vaccine availabilities.

“It’s interesting that people have a lot of different responses to getting the vaccine,” she said. “There’s kind of a split. Some people, I think, feel obligated to get the vaccine and are kind of nervous. But there’s also the other half that just give sigh a sigh of relief after they get the vaccine. They’re wanting to protect themselves and also all their loved ones.”

Beyer estimated that she has participated in at least 10 vaccine clinics since December and only wished she had time to do more. She said that at one mass event she participated in, more than 800 people were vaccinated.

“We wish we could be there all the time helping,” she said. “With school, it’s hard to dedicate all your time going out and vaccinating. Without all the volunteers, who knows where we would have been on this vaccine rollout schedule.”

SOM staff recognized in UMKC awards event

UMKC recognized eight School of Medicine staff members for their service and work during the university’s virtual Staff Awards event on April 20.

The celebration included milestone anniversaries, staff who were a part of the 2020 graduating class and staff who completed leadership development courses offered through the university.

Rachel McCommon, coordinator of strategic initiatives in the office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, received this year’s Living the Values Award. The honor recognizes a staff employee that best exemplifies excellence in one or more of the University’s key values: Learning, Diversity, Integrity, Accountability, Respect and Collaboration. Nominees must have shown extraordinary adoption of one or more of the key values in a work-related situation.

Four staff members, Collin Foster, Years 1-2 education team coordinator; Megan Frasher, manager of medical education with the council on curriculum; Brent McCoy, senior education team coordinator; and Sandra Smith, student support specialist, took part in the Series on Leadership Essentials. The program focuses on developing leaders in the areas of communication, engagement, giving and receiving feedback, and navigating change

Lisa Mallow, manager marketing/communications, was recognized as a graduate of the Administrative Leadership Development Program. The program provides professional development opportunities and ongoing support to administrative leaders on all campuses systemwide. ALDP enhances leadership effectiveness by focusing on core leadership competencies: Performance Oriented, People Centered, Culturally Competent, Values Driven, Strategic and Integrative Leaders.

Scott Guerrero, STAHR (Students in Training, in Academia, Health, and Research) program director, and Courtney McCain, coordinator of the school’s standardized patient program, were recognized among 2020 spring, summer and fall graduates.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ceremony took place virtually  to celebrate dedication to student success, diversity and inclusion, engagement and outreach and research and discovery.