All posts by Greg Hack

Welcoming our newest students

The new class of “M.D. only” students.

Though students in the 6-year B.A./M.D. program are the school’s largest contingent, students pursuing other degrees are an important part of the School of Medicine. Some of their programs also start in January, rather than in the fall, which gave us a chance to welcome our newest groups of students in January.

Our “M.D. only” students have already earned a bachelor’s degree and join second-year B.A./M.D. students for much of their clinical training and other course work.

The new Master of Science in Anesthesiology class.

The Master of Science in Anesthesia program was started in 2008 to address a shortage of anesthesia care providers in Missouri and several other states. The program is known for its outstanding placement rate and rate of success on the profession’s certifying exam. Graduates typically earn starting salaries of $90,000 to $120,000.

The Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Program’s new class.

The Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Program also is known for its outstanding certification-test and job placement rates.

The School of Medicine welcomes its newest students and looks forward to their becoming another integral part of providing top-quality health care to residents of Missouri and elsewhere in the Midwest and other states.

A letter to fellow alumni

13 January, 2020

Dear UMKC School of Medicine Alumnus,

Hello.  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is David John, M.D.  I am a 1977 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine and have returned to the School of Medicine after practicing rheumatology in Honolulu since finishing my fellowship.  While I continue to serve as the Gold One Docent (I was Green One under William Sirridge as a student), I have recently taken on the position as the Associate Dean of Alumni and Community Engagement.  Today is my first day in the new position and I wanted my first task to be reaching out to my fellow UMKC School of Medicine alums.

The first thing I want to tell you is that our School of Medicine is alive and well under the leadership of another fellow alum, Dean Mary Anne Jackson (Class of 1978, Blue One Docent unit).  Many exciting things are happening:

  • Our 50th Anniversary is rapidly approaching; save the date of September 25th, 2021, for the Anniversary dinner.
  • A student-centric major remodeling project beginning with the front SOM courtyard, the lobby, the humanities classroom and the canteen area
  • A rapidly expanding research initiative to support our student and resident needs
  • A reinvigoration of and recommitment to our Docent concept, the backbone of the UMKC School of Medicine Academic Plan
  • Our recent full 8-year reaccreditation by the LCME
  • “Hospital Hill” is passé; we are now part of the Health Sciences District.

I want to take the opportunity to emphasize that our School of Medicine is very special.  The Junior-Senior partnership concept still works.  Do-Ro still gives our graduates a more solid grasp of medicine than most schools.  Our graduates go on to have impressive careers and do astounding things.

For a 17-year-old guy who envisioned a career as a small college literature professor (with an eventual Nobel), the life that the UMKC School of Medicine gave me has been amazing.  I cannot imagine a more worthwhile purpose than ours as physicians.  I am honored.  I am grateful.  I am confident that you feel the same way!

If you ever want to talk about the School, hear about our plans to enhance the facility and the students’ experience, get a tour, air a concern, please contact me.  You can expect a warm welcome.

My cell number is 808-382-1307.  I look forward to speaking with you individually.  And, look forward to regular updates.

Have a grand 2020!




David John, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Associate Dean of Alumni and Community Engagement
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine

AOA nominations sought

Jan. 7, 2020

Dear Alumni Member:

In accordance with the national constitution, the UMKC Delta chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha (National Honor Medical Society) is inviting interested alumni members to apply for consideration for AOA membership. To be eligible, UMKC-SOM alumni must have graduated at least 10 years ago.

Criteria considered in the selection process include scholastic excellence, integrity, leadership, research, compassion, and fairness.

If you wish to be considered, please send electronically or mail me a copy of your CV as well as one letter of recommendation. If you prefer to nominate someone else please submit their name with a letter of recommendation and we will get in touch with them directly for a CV.

Please submit materials to:

John Foxworth, PharmD
UMKC School of Medicine
2411 Holmes St.
Kansas City, MO 64108-2792

All materials must be received by March 1 for the candidate to be considered. Material received after that date will not be considered. Decisions will be made in the spring of 2020.

If you need any additional information, reach me at 816-235-1925 or my email above. You can view information at the National AOA website at

Thank you for your participation in this nomination process.


John Foxworth, PharmD
Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, & Biomedical and Health Informatics
Associate Dean, Academic Enrichment, School of Medicine
Associate Program Director & Director of Research, Internal Medicine Residency Program
Fellow, American College of Clinical Pharmacology
Member, American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Clinical Pharmacology Section,
Department of Medicine, Truman Medical Center-Hospital Hill
and University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine


The gift of relaxation

Niloofar Shahmohammadi, wellness program coordinator, showed off the new Wellness Wing when it opened.

Students at the School of Medicine keep up a fast pace, but when they do get a break they have the perfect place to go: the fifth-floor Wellness Wing.

The large room, once the curriculum office, was remodeled with financial help from the school’s Alumni Association and stocked with sports equipment, an electric massage chair and other amenities with help from the Friends group. Since it opened in May 2018, the Wellness Wing has offered everything from a massage chair, soothing music and free herbal tea to books and magazines on taking care of yourself, and tables loaded with puzzles, coloring books and arts and crafts supplies.

Niloofar Shahmohammadi, the school’s wellness program coordinator who brought the Wellness Wing to life, said, “This is our official wellness place where you can take a break, step away and then get back to what you need to do.”

Besides being a good place to decompress informally, the wing has offered yoga classes and will again this semester. That schedule hasn’t been set yet, but Shahmohammadi said the class again will be taught by a trained instructor from the Swinney Center on UMKC’s Volker Campus.

The wing also has sports equipment, donated by the Friends, that can be checked out when the weather is good for soccer, Frisbee or tossing around a football.

“This is a little oasis where you can step away in the middle of your day, maybe during your lunch break, maybe in a break between classes, step in here and get rejuvenated,” Shahmohammadi said.


Beloved administrator Marilyn McGuyre remembered

This cutout of Marilyn McGuyre promoted the bowling tournament that raised money for the scholarship fund started in her honor.

Marilyn McGuyre, loved across four decades by the students she served at the School of Medicine, died Jan. 9 in Kansas City at the age of 73.

McGuyre was an early pillar of the school, joining the administration in June 1971, two months before the first class of students arrived. Before she retired in 2010, she served as the school’s assistant director, then as director of student affairs and finally as career counselor. McGuyre was deeply committed to the nearly 2,800 students who graduated as physicians during her tenure, and she stayed in touch with many alumni after she helped them graduate and match with their residencies.

McGuyre also was known for her wit and keen interest in current events, making her a favorite with colleagues as well.

McGuyre was born Jan. 18, 1946, in Kansas City and graduated from St. Teresa’s Academy high school. At UMKC, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in public administration.

Marilyn McGuyre

Plans are being made for an appropriate celebration of her life. Details should be available soon.

In 1994, to recognize her service and advocacy of the school, the Marilyn McGuyre Scholarship Fund was established by the school’s Alumni Board. For several years, an annual bowling tournament, in which teams of students and their docents competed, contributed to the fund. Now, in her memory, contributions can be made to the fund, payable to the UMKC Foundation, 5115 Oak St., Administration Center Room 2020, KCMO 64108. Or contribute online here.


Spertus involved in big stent study

A leading UMKC and Saint Luke’s Health System researcher, John Spertus, M.D., M.P.H., was heavily involved in important heart-procedure research that was published earlier this month and presented at the annual conference of the American Heart Association.

You can read an interview with Spertus about the research here.

A Washington Post story said the study, called ISCHEMIA, found that invasive procedures to unclog blocked arteries — in most cases, the insertion of a stent, a tiny mesh tube that props open a blood vessel after artery-clearing angioplasty — were no better at preventing heart attacks and death in patients with stable heart disease than were pills and improvements in diet and exercise. Overall, the study results suggest that invasive procedures, stents and bypass surgery, should be used more sparingly in patients with stable heart disease and the decision to use them should be less rushed, experts said.

Spertus is a UMKC professor of medicine and Daniel J. Lauer Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research. At Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, as clinical director of outcomes research, he developed technology that guides physicians and patients in medical-decision making by using models to measure and predict the risk factors of various procedures. Many experts cite two tools he created — the Seattle Angina Questionnaire and the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire — as the gold standards for measuring symptoms, function and quality of life in treating coronary artery disease and heart failure. Both have been translated into more than 95 languages.

A year ago he received the American Heart Association’s 2018 Distinguished Scientist Award. He previously received the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 and the Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Distinguished Achievement Award in 2013.


Meet the school’s new alumni president

Dr. Ralph Wuebker

Ralph Wuebker, M.D. ’94, is the new president of the School of Medicine’s Alumni Association, a post he will hold for the next two years. He was elected Oct. 16 at a meeting of the National Board of Alumni and Partners.

“I have a great network of friends and lots of good memories thanks to UMKC, so I look forward to the opportunity to give back and support the school,” said Wuebker, the chief medical officer at Slalom Consulting St. Louis. “I’ve been on the alumni board for a couple of years, and I would love to get more alumni my age and younger involved.”

At the October meeting, the board also welcomed three new members: Monica Farley, M.D. ’80, Joe Goldenberg, M.D. ’80, and Mangesh Oza, M.D. ’96. The outgoing president, Tracy Stevens, M.D. ’90, presided.

Wuebker said he hoped to bring a unique perspective to the association. He practiced pediatrics for 20 years and now is a health-care executive. Wuebker earned an M.B.A. from Washington University in 2003 and for several years was chief medical officer for Optum 360. In May, he joined Slalom St. Louis, which helps clients utilize technology, data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Wuebker’s UMKC associations also include family. His wife, Heather Walton Wuebker, M.D. ’98, and his sister, Maria Wuebker Gove, M.D. ’01, are both alumni. Heather Wuebker is an obstetrician-gynecologist, and they have a 9-year-old son.

Ralph Wuebker said: “The Alumni Association and our events are a good opportunity to network, staying connected to each other and to the school. I hope to engage more alumni as we advance UMKC School of Medicine.”

He said he would like to hear from other alumni and can be reached at


A School of Medicine original takes alumni and engagement post

David John, M.D. ’77, with some of his Gold 1 students.

David John, M.D. ’77, has been appointed associate dean of alumni and community engagement. He continues in his role as assistant professor of medicine and Gold One docent.

John is active in clinical teaching in internal medicine and rheumatology and is also very involved with the Humanities Department, addressing the art of medicine and the humanities approach to patient care.

In making the appointment, interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78, said: “As a 1977 alumnus of the first class of B.A./M.D. students at the UMKC School of Medicine, Dr. John has knowledge of the history, mission and culture of the School of Medicine that will allow him to focus on engaging our students, faculty and alumni who are invested in the future initiatives of our School of Medicine, particularly as we approach our 50th anniversary celebration in 2021.

“Dr. John’s role will allow him to advance alumni connection and participation as well as to enhance involvement and support from the community at large.  I am delighted to welcome Dr. John to this new role.”

John said he was planning to develop good lines of communications with alumni so they would know what’s going on at the school and feel more connected. He also hopes to educate many organizations about the value the School of Medicine brings to the Kansas City area and the state of Missouri.

John’s history with the school and current work as a docent were highlighted in a 2018 article in UMKC Medicine about the docent system. You can read it here.

Welcome new parents!

A reception and information session Aug. 15 started the school year off right for parents of new School of Medicine students.

The evening session, put on at the Student Union by the Friends of the School of Medicine, drew scores of parents. Susan Storm, M.D. ’85, the Friends president; Brenda Rogers, M.D. ‘’90, associate dean of student affairs; and a panel of a half-dozen current students gave them valuable information on what to expect in the next year.

Rogers said the school was dedicated to the success of all students and offered a range of services that parents and students are encouraged to use, from financial advice to tutoring and other academic support. Storm encouraged the parents to join the Friends to make connections with other parents and help with activities that support their students.

Students on the panel, which included Storm’s son and daughter, also said the Friends group had helped their parents. “It was great for my mom, especially, to have other parents to talk with,” said Caroline Olson.

The students, ranging from second-years to a sixth-year, also explained some of the benefits and workings of the docent teams and the peer mentor system. A slide show also told about how the Friends support students, and how students often serve the community through UMKC’s Service Day and the Sojourner Clinic, which mainly serves the homeless population in Kansas City.

Many parents asked about housing options for next year, when their students no longer have to live in university housing. Storm advised not worrying about housing for fall 2020 just yet, and said the Friends’ next meeting, set for Feb. 29, would focus on housing options.

Before the presentation, parents had a chance to mingle, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and buy T-shirts especially designed for them.

Class of 2025 enjoys move-in day

Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78, greeted many students and their families.

Excitement filled the air Thursday morning at the Oak Street Hall, and it was easy to see why. It was move-in day for the dozens of members of the UMKC School of Medicine Class of 2025, who all were taking on the challenge of earning a bachelor’s degree and their medical degree in just six years.

The program calls for extraordinary students, and they and their supportive families filled the halls and elevators.

There was Liv Lyon, from Ozark, Missouri, saying, “I love a challenge and always push myself to do what’s hardest.” In high school she did not one but two capstone projects, both involving health care improvements. One helped a hospital’s SICU set up a system to accurately track the weight of each patient every day.

And when med school’s obstacles come along, Lyon just might vault over them — even if they’re 12 feet high. She was the Missouri Class 5A pole vault champion last year, with a winning vault of 11’3″ and a personal best of 12’6″.

“I love sports, track and field especially,” she said. “Pole vaulting is my favorite.”

She credited her parents, too, for encouraging her to do her best and learn as much as possible. Her mother, a schoolteacher who stopped teaching to raise her children, is “the best mom in the world,” Lyon said. And her father, a D.O. who practices emergency medicine and is certified in family practice, made it easy to get and stay interested in pursuing medicine.

Upperclass students — veterans of move-in day — say there’s always room for more on the elevator.

UMKC’s six-year program “is just an incredible opportunity,” Lyon said.

Lyon’s roommate, Megan Costello, comes from the St. Louis area and also had plenty of move-in support. Her maternal grandparents were along for the day, as were her banker father and scientist mother.

“I know it will be a challenge, but I really love science,” she said. “The only class that sounded interesting my first year of high school was Principles of Biomedicine. And it was really interesting.”

After that, she said, she took all the science classes she could and thrived in them. A special program her senior year at Holt High School in Wentzville let her work half days at a hospital.

Costello couldn’t remember how she first heard about the UMKC program, but the more she learned, the more she was drawn to what it offered.

“I like that this program will give us clinical experience for six years instead of just two,” she said. “And I like that I’ll be able to finish medical school faster.”

The challenge of becoming a physician, and on a fast track, also attracted classmate Victor Arellano.

“I’ve been interested in this program since I heard about it my sophomore year in high school,” said Arellano, from the lake community of Stockton, Missouri. “I started job shadowing, and that just increased my interest.”

His parents, Luis and Christie Arellano, obviously were proud of how hard their son had worked to excel in school and to get into medical school. But the family is no stranger to hard work, having run Enrique’s Mexican Grill for 15 years.

“We’ve done well for several years,” Luis Arellano said, “and that’s something for a restaurant in a town of only 1,900.”

Like Arellano, his roommate, Ryan Dirksen from Springfield, had been interested in medicine for years, “since I was in grade school,” he said. That’s not surprising because as his father, now retired, was a podiatrist, and his uncle is a pediatrician.

“This is a chance to make a longtime dream a reality,” Dirksen said.

But he didn’t follow in the family footsteps without making sure that was the right path for him. He joined Medical Explorers, a shadowing program that Dirksen explored further.

Another exceptional part of move-in day was being greeted by the school’s interim dean, Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78. She made a point of meeting and connecting with as many students and families as she could — and found a few she already knew.

That was the case with Dirksen’s family. His aunt and pediatrician uncle, Dr. Michael S. Hanks, were along to help with the move-in, and big smiles and hugs were exchanged when they realized who was greeting them.

“I’ve been attending Dr. Jackson’s pediatric lectures for years,” Hanks said.