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Brad Warner, M.D., ’82, provides surgical care for children in need

 

UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Reflections Throughout 50 Years

Since 1971, nearly 4,000 physicians and health care professionals across the United States have received their degrees from the UMKC School of Medicine. As a lead up to our Gold Jubilee 50th anniversary event on June 4, we are spotlighting some of our alumni who embody the school’s spirit and excellence in medical education and patient care.

Today, we catch up with Brad Warner, M.D., ’82, a pediatric surgeon and chief surgeon for the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In addition to general pediatric surgery, he also specializes in treating short bowel syndrome, necrotizing enterocolitis and inflammatory bowel disease. In addition to his clinical practice, he also enjoys teaching students and residents, and doing research.

Where are you living and working now?

I am living in St. Louis, Missouri, where serve as the chief surgeon for the St. Louis Children’s Hospital and as the Jessie L. Ternberg, M.D., Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Pediatric Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine.

What is your fondest School of Medicine memory?

My greatest memory would be the med school trip we took to Austria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

What has been the greatest lesson you learned at the School of Medicine?

The best lesson I learned from medical school at UMKC is the value of strong clinical training.

What is something about you that people may not know?

I love doing landscape photography.

Timothy Martin, M.D., ’84, a leader in pediatric anesthesiology and pain medicine

SOM-50-YRS-1971-2021Since 1971, nearly 4,000 physicians and health care professionals across the United States have received their degrees from the UMKC School of Medicine. As a lead up to our Gold Jubilee 50th anniversary event on June 4, we are spotlighting some of our alumni who embody the school’s spirit and excellence in medical education and patient care.

Today, we catch up with Timothy Martin, M.D., ’84, chief of pediatric anesthesiology, anesthesiology residency program director and associate chair for education at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Where are you living and working now?

I currently live and work in Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida, home of the main campus and health science center of the University of Florida. I practice at the University of Florida Health locations including Shands Hospitals and the Children’s Surgery Center in Gainesville.

Tell us about your current role?

I am professor of anesthesiology and associate department chair for education, as well as core Anesthesiology Residency Program Director and chief of the Division of Pediatric Anesthesia at the University of Florida, roles that I have filled since 2015 when I was recruited to UF. I began my post-UMKC medical career with 10 years of active duty service in the U.S. Air Force in San Antonio, Texas, and then served on the faculty and as Chief of Pediatric Anesthesia at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, Arkansas for more than 20 years.

What is your primary focus in medicine?

My primary clinical specialty is pediatric anesthesiology and pain medicine although the Shands Hospital perioperative areas serve a mixed adult and pediatric patient population. So, I do frequently care for adult surgical patients. Approximately 50 percent of my time is devoted to clinical practice, while the other 50 percent is allocated to fellow, resident and medical student education due to the large number of programs that I oversee at UF.

Share one of your most fond memories of the UMKC School of Medicine?

My “tongue in cheek” response would be the many wonderful Saturday morning activities at the UMKC School of Medicine such as the Saturday morning Correlative Medicine series in years 3 and 4, and the Quarterly Profile Examinations (QPE). Seriously though, my most fond memories are of faculty members and class friends who inspired and motivated me to pursue a career in medical education and research through various activities and events. I recall sitting on my roommate, John Whitfield’s and my apartment floor the day of graduation in 1984 thinking I had just experienced the best years of my life. In many ways, I still believe this is so 38 years later, although I have been very fortunate throughout my career.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you learned at the UMKC School of Medicine?

There were many great lessons learned, but I think the most valuable may have been learning to appreciate, train and work alongside, and engage colleagues from diverse backgrounds and experiences. This has proven to be extremely helpful throughout my career in medical leadership.

What is something about you that people may not know?

Aside from my obvious interest in medicine, I have been a lifelong student of all things historical — particularly early American and native American history. Throughout my years in Arkansas, I consistently worked to support and held a variety of leadership roles in the Historic Arkansas Museum, and more recently the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee.

UMKC receives $15.5 million appropriation to expand rural health care and School of Medicine St. Joseph campus

The University of Missouri-Kansas City will receive $15.5 million to help expand rural access to health care as part of the $1.5 trillion federal government spending measure signed into law last week.

“UMKC has a strong culture of care and we are proud to help provide access to quality health care for all Missourians,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “Like many areas of the country, the state of Missouri is facing a physician shortage in rural areas, leaving people in those communities vulnerable to negative health outcomes. We are grateful to Senator Roy Blunt for introducing this funding into the spending legislation, and to Congress for their support as we strive to meet that need and improve the lives of millions of people here in Missouri and across the U.S.”

The appropriation will fund the expansion of the UMKC School of Medicine campus in St. Joseph, Missouri, at a cost of $13 million. The St. Joseph campus, located at Mosaic Life Care, opened in January 2021 to help address the state’s rural physician shortage. The campus is quickly outgrowing its space. The funds provided by Congress will go toward constructing additional classroom and laboratory space.

“The appropriation allows us to support our students on their medical journey with creation of physical learning space to encourage collaboration, exploration and discovery,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the UMKC School of Medicine.

In addition, $2.5 million will help the UMKC School of Medicine expand behavioral health medical training at the St. Joseph campus. This experiential training is designed to improve access to behavioral health services in underserved areas, such as rural and low-income communities.

Blunt said the UMKC School of Medicine health care training programs in St. Joseph will be a benefit statewide.

“Our state is facing a severe physician shortage, creating major challenges for our rural communities and the more than one-third of Missourians who live there,” said Blunt. “As the top Republican on the appropriations subcommittee that funds health programs, I’ve been a strong advocate for the UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus expansion and its important work in training physicians who will be uniquely qualified to provide care where it’s needed most. This includes enhancing physician training in behavioral health care. I appreciate UMKC’s commitment to strengthening our rural communities, and I’m grateful to all the physicians who will bring quality care to families in underserved areas across the state.”

It’s not the first time Blunt has championed resources for the UMKC School of Medicine. A longtime champion for health care, Blunt also played a pivotal role in establishing grant funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration to start and continue the program in St. Joseph.

“Senator Blunt has been a strong partner for our medical programs to help us meet the needs of our community. I commend Senator Blunt for his leadership in addressing health care needs for all Missourians,” said Agrawal.

In addition to the contributions by Blunt, Missouri State Rep. Brenda Shields was instrumental in the creation of the UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus.

“The passion and enthusiasm for our mission from Senator Blunt and Representative Shields has been invaluable to us and ultimately will serve the rural residents of Missouri as our students graduate and continue their careers serving the people in the northwest region of our state,” said Jackson.

The UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph partner, Mosaic Life Care, is one of the largest private rural primary-care networks in the United States and a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

UMKC has a strong history of expanding access to rural health care education programs in Missouri. In addition to the School of Medicine program, the university operates satellite campuses for the UMKC School of Pharmacy at the University of Missouri in Columbia and Missouri State University in Springfield.

UMKC School of Medicine Ranks Among the Nation’s Best

The UMKC School of Medicine was the highest-ranked medical school in Missouri for Primary Care in the 2023 graduate school rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

UMKC’s ranking of no. 52 in the nation was up 12 places from last year’s rankings. Other Missouri medical schools that made the rankings included Washington University and Saint Louis University, tied at no. 56; and the University of Missouri-Columbia, no. 67.

The school of medicine also ranked 29th among schools with the most graduate physicians practicing in medically underserved areas. It also ranked 85th for research medical schools, up three spots from a year ago.

The 2023 rankings list was released March 29.

“The UMKC School of Medicine opened its doors more than 50 years ago on our Health Sciences District campus with a commitment to serve the people of Missouri,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. “We are leading the way as we provide the highest quality programs to educate our next generation of outstanding health care professionals and provide the highest quality of care to our community and beyond.”

Jackson noted that the UMKC medical program is built on the enduring vision of Dr. E. Grey Dimond. Students experience an innovative curriculum, care for patients in clinical settings from day one, and learn in small teams led by docent physician mentors, who emphasize a humanistic approach to medicine. And now UMKC’s model takes place not only on the Kansas City campus but in St. Joseph, Missouri, serving a more rural population.

Earlier this year, in its annual ranking of online graduate programs, U.S. News ranked the online graduate nursing program at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies among the nation’s top 50 for the tenth consecutive year.

A message from Dean Jackson

These are exciting times at the School of Medicine. This past several years, we have been focused on initiatives to build diversity, enhance our learning environment, and expand student centric curriculum and value-added advanced degree and research opportunities.

Our award-winning students and faculty continue to garner national recognition. Sophie Bernsteina has been selected for the 2022 Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee on the basis of her efforts to promote public health and the Surgeon General’s priorities.  Dr. Amy Patel, ’11, serves as president elect of the American Association for Women in Radiology and is the first female recipient of the American College of Radiology Howard Fleishon, MD, Advocate of the Year Award recognized for her efforts to promote breast cancer imaging.

We are also pleased to announce two new endowed chairs, Dr. Jannette Berkely Patton, Merl and Muriel Hicklin Chair in Medicine and Dr. Cuthbert Simpkins, Sosland Chair in Trauma Research. Our commitment to world class medical education has been recognized with a $50 million Omnibus appropriation, which we will match, to build a new medical education and dental clinic building at 25th and Charlotte. And rural health care at our Mosaic campus has been recognized with a $15 million dollar senate appropriations to further build out our space as we anticipate the inaugural class starting their clinical blocks this summer.

We continue to increase our external funding and inside our School of Medicine building will launch a Research Wall of Fame outside of Theatre A. This will feature the accomplishments of students and faculty.

We hope you plan to join us on June 4, 2022 for the 50th SOM Anniversary celebration. If you cannot join in person, we encourage you to continue to invest in our mission.

Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78
Dean, School of Medicine

UMKC PA student inspired by emergency room care

Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.

Name: Kevin Du
Anticipated graduation year: May 2023
UMKC degree program: Master of Medical Science – Physician Assistant
Hometown: Kansas City, MO

When Kevin Du, MMS, ’23, lost his father to an acute myocardial infarction three years ago, he was numb, but he remembers that a care provider in the ICU stopped to comfort him.

“I remember how kind she was and how heard I felt,” he says. “Looking back on that is what initiated my interest in the physician assistant profession, and I know that I want to be that type of provider in my career.”

Du is currently enrolled in the physician assistant program at the UMKC School of Medicine. He says the pace of the program can be a challenge, but he loves the small class sizes and the support he receives from the staff members.

“Also, we are a smaller cohort, so we receive more personalized attention from our amazing, supportive faculty when we need it.”

“UMKC is culturally diverse and encourages students to be understanding of others’ backgrounds. I admire the commitment to the community.”

Du is a first generation college student. His parents immigrated to the United States following the Vietnam War and settled in Kansas City. While his parents’ goals for him were more focused on having a happy life than the pursuit of an advance degree, Du would like his achievements to inspire future generations in his family and make his mother proud.

“I want to pay my mom back for all the sacrifices she made for me and validate my parents’ choice to immigrate here,” he says.

Du believes his confidence has allowed him to learn new things and expand his opportunities.

“We are a smaller cohort, so we can receive more personalized attention from our amazing, supportive faculty when we need it.”

“I will always be the first one to volunteer or answer a question,” Du says. “Whether I answer correctly or perform well does not matter to me. I take all my successes and failures in stride and just treat everything as a learning experience.  After every experience I ask, ‘How did I do that, and can I do it better?’ This has given me a positive outlook on life and more perspective on how I can improve on myself.”

 

Du is the president of the UMKC Physician Assistant Student Association and appreciates the inclusivity of the UMKC environment.

“UMKC is culturally diverse and encourages students to be understanding of others’ backgrounds. I admire the commitment to the community.”

Med student uses TikTok to inspire others

Dumebi Okocha leverages her unexpected ‘medfluencer’ platform for good

Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.

Dumebi Okocha
Anticipated graduation year: May 2024
UMKC degree program: B.A./M.D.
Hometown: Waxhaw, North Carolina

As the daughter of a physician and a nurse practitioner, pursuing a medical career was a natural path for Dumebi Okocha.

“I always saw my dad coming back from work and I was always interested in the cases he was seeing, even though I didn’t know what he was talking about. My mom is a nurse practitioner, so I come from a strong health sciences background,” she said.

She applied to UMKC because of its six-year accelerated B.A./M.D. program, which would allow her to become a physician faster and save money. When she found herself stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Okocha did what many people her age do when boredom strikes: she made a TikTok video. She noticed there was not much awareness about accelerated medical programs like hers, so posted about it.

“I was just trying to show there were other, quicker, more cost-affordable options without the MCAT,” she said.

To her amazement, it racked up more than 50,000 likes.

“I was surprised. I just didn’t think anything of it at the time. When I started, I probably had 30 followers,” she said. “I was like, ‘Who are all these people?’ That’s when I was like, okay, if I post consistently, I think I can get a following.”

Dubemi Okocha, a student in the accelerated B.A./M.D. program, posing in a white coat

Soon her inbox was flooded with direct messages from students who had never heard of accelerated programs. It was then that Okocha saw an opportunity to change the face of medicine. She decided to expand her platform to talk about the medical field more broadly and encourage other people who are Black, first-generation Americans, first-generation college students or an under-represented minority to pursue medical careers, no matter if they chose a six-year track or another path.

“My goal overall is to be a face for what is possible and to use my privilege to help those who are not as privileged,” said Okocha. “Once they see a Nigerian-American girl in medical school doing her thing, I think it helps them say, ‘Okay, she’s doing it. She’s not perfect but she’s doing it, which means I can do it. I just have to find my way to success.’”

Okocha has since expanded her reach, with her highest-viewed video now reaching one million views. At first, she was nervous about her classmates and professors seeing her videos, but she says the feedback has been largely positive.

“I was getting too self-conscious thinking that if people are watching, I had to be perfect. But once I heard from administration that they liked my TikToks, I knew I was doing a good job,” she said.

In addition to being a medfluencer, Okocha is a UMKC School of Medicine ambassador, Region 2 secretary and the local chapter secretary of the Student National Medical Association, public relations representative for the OBGYN Interest Group and a member of Students Training in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR). Between her studies and her extracurricular commitments, Okocha said her social media presence can be a lot to balance, but she tries to keep things in perspective.

“I have to remember this is not my job, this is a hobby. When I place it like that, it’s not an obligation, it’s just for fun,” she said. “I think I laid the expectation that I’m not going to post every day and that’s okay. Around finals, I don’t really post. If I’m changing classes, I tend not to post in the beginning just so I can get my footing. I always put being a student first.”

Dumebi Okocha, a student in the accelerated B.A./M.D. program, posing outside in a white coat.

Through it all, Okocha said she has learned how to manage multiple tasks, find creative solutions and appreciate all the professions of medicine. She hopes by sharing her journey, it will inspire others.

“You can have a life, you can go to med school and even if you have disadvantages stacked against you, there are ways around it, you just have to know those ways.”

Okocha said she plans to continue and expand her social media presence when she becomes a doctor.

“I feel like social media is the new way of getting information out to your patients and educating people,” she said. “My dream is to have a podcast. After I take my boards, I want to start working on that.”

UMKC professors study the impact of sound on operating room safety

Faculty donation leads to collaboration between professors in the School of Medicine and UMKC Conservatory to yield safer surgeries

Medicine and music aren’t an obvious pair, but in a discussion between colleagues at the UMKC Surgical Innovations Lab, experts in each field realized an interesting link between the two topics.

Gary Sutkin, M.D., professor of surgery and associate dean of women’s health at UMKC, has focused much of his research on surgical safety and mitigating errors in the operating room. Today he’s working to expand that research by teaming up with his colleague – and composer – Paul Rudy, MM, DMA, Curators’ Distinguished Professor and coordinator of composition at the UMKC Conservatory, to study the effects of sound on patient safety in the operating room.

Studies have shown that reducing hospital noise levels has a direct impact on improving patient safety, but in operating rooms, in addition to conversations among the surgical team, the equipment required for surgeries makes noise. Though some sounds are necessary ­– such as the noise of the oxygen saturation monitor, which creates the rapid high-pitched beep people may recognize from medical shows on television — the noise created by people in the room often is not.

Gary Sutkin, M.D.

Rudy and Sutkin are working together to develop training and surgical methods that reduce some of the noise and related risk.

“People have been trying to solve the problem of miscommunication in the operating room for 20 years and there hasn’t been any meaningful progress,” Sutkin says. “What I know is that we need brains other than those of researchers, surgeons and nurses to study the problem.”

Sutkin’s interest in collaborating with people who have expertise in areas outside of medicine, coupled with Rudy’s curiosity and ability to hear the operating room with fresh ears is already leading to interesting results.

By observing surgeries, Rudy recognized that surgeons’ work entails very fine motor movements and unwavering focus that requires them to keep their heads down. He also observed other members of the surgical team are focused on their own tasks and responsibilities.

“People have been trying to solve the problem of miscommunication and errors in the operating for 20 years and there hasn’t been meaningful progress. What I know is that I need other brains than only researchers, surgeons and nurses.”
 Gary Sutkin, M.D.

“No one’s looking at the surgeon’s body language to figure out what’s needed,” Rudy says. “For example, the anesthesiologist is reading a screen. Much of the communication [the team receives] is coming through sound.”

But despite the importance of verbal communication, he observed a lot of the noise people make in the operating room is not critical to the surgery.

“Everyone is doing something necessary,” Rudy says. “But sometimes someone has to unpackage something in a hurry, and they can’t throw it in the trash can, so it ends up on the floor. Or someone picks up that big wad of plastic to get it out of the way and you can’t hear anything else over the noise. This has to be done – someone could trip over it – but if the surgeon needs to communicate something important to the anesthesiologist at that moment, the noise will mask the communication.”

Because of Rudy’s background as a musician, the amount of residual noise in the operating room came as a surprise.

“In rehearsals and in performances, no one makes any extra sound anywhere for any reason,” Rudy says. “Musicians carefully turn pages of sheet music so that the binder doesn’t make any noise.”

He’s aware of the differences between the disciplines, but still notes there is room for improvement when it comes to eliminating some unnecessary noise in operating rooms. Rudy’s research has identified solutions to common disruptions that OR teams may not even notice.

“For example, in the operating room there are really heavy metal step stools,” Rudy says. “People tend to scoot them across the floor with their feet and it makes this really intense grating sound that may mask any kind of communication that is going on in the room.”

Paul Rudy, Ph.D.

Rudy understands that the medical professionals in the operating room move the stools with their feet because they need to keep their hands sterile, but he wonders if manufacturers are aware of the ramifications of production decisions.

“This research could lead to that awareness, and maybe even influence manufacturing standards.”

Observations like this that lead to opportunity for innovation and increased safety is at the heart of the mission of Surgilab and are why Sutkin wants colleagues like Rudy in the operating room.

“There’s value in having insight from brains other than researchers, surgeons and nurses. Paul brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity. And, surprisingly, to be honest, a scientific mind that contributes very well with this research.”

A gift from UMKC professor emerita, Elizabeth Noble, Ph.D., helped fund this research collaboration. Noble supports research that reaches across different fields of study because she thinks it makes the outcomes more reliable and more transferable.

“Today most researchers would agree that cross-disciplinary research is valuable,” Noble says. “It stimulates new ways of thinking about different issues, especially when we’re talking about music and medicine which are not always assumed to go together.”

“This research is exactly what I hoped would occur. I’m very happy that Dr. Rudy has had this kind of success,” she added.

Alumni Reflections Through 50 Years

Arif Kamal, M.D., ’05, follows ‘marching orders to change the word’

Since 1971, nearly 4,000 physicians and health care professionals across the United States have received their degrees from the UMKC School of Medicine. As a lead-up to our Gold Jubilee 50th anniversary event on June 4, we will spotlight some of our alumni who embody the school’s spirit and excellence in medical education and patient care.

Today, we catch up with Arif Kamal M.D. ’05,  MBA ’15, MHS ’16, who now lives and works in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Where are you working?
I now work at the American Cancer Society as the Chief Patient Officer. My team oversees all of the patient-facing support programs offered by the ACS including the Hope Lodges, patient transportation program, and patient navigation systems.

Share with us one of your fondest memories.
My fondest memory is not a specific one but all the moments growing and learning as a class of colleagues and friends. We started together at 18 years old, new to medicine and anxious to build a career as a physician. And we graduated together as confident, skilled physicians with marching orders to change the world.

What is the greatest lesson you learned during your time at the School of Medicine?
The greatest lesson I learned is from the bedside, having six years of hands-on experience with patients. It is a quote I attribute to Dr. Carol Stanford, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” She taught us to put people and their stories and lived experiences first, and the diagnosis or condition second. When you take a people-first attitude, good things happen.

What is something about you that people may not know?
Something many may not know about me is that although I serve many roles in health care, I take most pride in serving as a soccer coach to my daughter’s team. We have such an amazing time together.

 

 

A message from Dean Jackson

Happy New Year to all!

New faces are filling our halls. In January, we welcomed our 14th class of anesthesia assistant students, our eighth cohort of PA students, and MD track students at both of our campuses. This year’s class is the second at the UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus. And we’re not done. We look forward to interviewing prospective students for our 51st class of BA/MD students who will enter in the summer of 2022. And in the fall, we will launch a one-year MBA program in collaboration with the Bloch School of Business. The program is structured for medical students who envision a career path as a leader in health care organization strategy.

We are also celebrating the expansion of our research initiative, which has grown extramural funding by 850% in the last five years. Our research work in surgical safety (Dr. Gary Sutkin), neurosciences (Drs. Paula Nichols and John Wang), vision sciences (Drs. Peter Koulen and Karl Kador), maternal fetal health (Dr. Nihar Nayak), and health equity (Dr. Jannette Berkley Patton) is flourishing. Under the leadership of Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair, Dr. Mamta Reddy, we have initiated a new program to teach the principles and practice of quality improvement and patient safety (QIPS). Ten faculty from our clinical affiliates have been invited to be members of the inaugural class. The yearlong QIPS program will prepare faculty to provide resources and collaboration for students and other interested faculty.

After our recent curricular retreat, we prioritized the focus on innovations to our medical curriculum. Our talented BMS faculty and course directors have navigated the pandemic challenges in medical education through enhanced virtual platforms for education delivery and our clinical faculty continue to teach students, residents and fellows embarking on rotations at our affiliates.

We not only commit to educating the next generation of health care professionals, providing cutting edge clinical care, and researching new treatments, but also to fostering community and partner collaborations. The community alliances are taking center stage as faculty like Dr. Berkley Patton promote health equity by engaging a myriad of investigators on the Health Science District campus. Our steadfast focus on equity, professionalism and ethics is essential as we address health care disparities and other emerging threats to our population. We will get beyond this pandemic as we anticipate the Omicron surge to diminish over the next four to six weeks. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, we stand shoulder to shoulder with all of our colleagues who are working tirelessly and look forward to the next stage as SARS CoV-2 declines and our society gets back to a more near normal.

Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78
Dean, School of Medicine