All posts by UMKC Strategic Marketing and Communications

A message from Dean Jackson

Greetings, alumni! As we wrap up 2022, I want to spotlight some of our amazing faculty at the School of Medicine. I’ll start with an important national honor for Dr. Betty Drees, dean emeritus of the School of Medicine. Dr. Drees received the 2022 Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing the Careers of Women in Medicine from the American College of Physicians. This award recognizes an individual who has furthered the careers of women medical students, residents and physicians through leadership development and mentoring.

The faculty and friends of the School of Medicine came together on Oct. 28 to celebrate those who were promoted in 2022 and those who were recognized as recipients of the School of Medicine Faculty Awards.

Faculty award recipients include:

  • Jannette Berkley-Patton – Excellence in Diversity & Health Equity
  • Willard Morrow – Christopher Papasian, Ph.D., Excellence in Teaching
  • Karl Kador – Betty M. Drees, M.D., Excellence in Mentoring
  • Jacqueline Walker – Clinical Affiliate Teaching Award
  • Peter Koulen – Faculty Researcher Award

In addition to these awards, for the first time ever, we also recognized a faculty member engaged in service to the community with the Faculty Community Service and Engagement Award. This year’s recipient was Dr. Alie Scholes. Dr. Scholes is an assistant professor of emergency medicine and has served as a year 1 and 2 docent for more than a decade. She has established a culture where students are empowered to serve, take responsibility for their patients and put to practice the knowledge they have amassed in their education.

It was a big year for promotions at the School of Medicine. We celebrate 75 faculty promoted this year: 50 to the rank of associate professor and 25 to professor, including the first two Black women faculty in Children’s Mercy’s 125-year history. In academic medicine, underrepresented minority women are scarce, and few are in positions of leadership. I am proud to congratulate Dr. Amy Beck and Dr. Bridgette Jones, assistant academic dean of students.

The School of Medicine continues to support and encourage the success of all of our faculty. Mentorship and faculty development happen when diversity champions are invested and accessible. Our associate dean of DEI, Dr. Tyler Smith, and assistant dean, Doris Agwu, are formidable leaders. Under their leadership, the School of Medicine was nationally recognized as a 2022 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) awardee based on our school’s commitment, programs and initiatives in diversity.

Meeting with our talented students and faculty, working with our staff who keep us on a steady path and connecting across the country to promote our university and medical school continue to fuel us at the School of Medicine. In the next year, we are looking to continue work that allows us to construct a new building at our campus in St. Joseph. We also look forward to progress on the new Health Sciences Building, which will allow the dental school and the medical school to enhance the educational environment for all our students. The excitement coming in 2023 will carry the school forward and bring with it more research initiatives, student-facing programs, innovations in our curriculum and the additional recruitment of faculty who elevate our national academic reputation.

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

A message from Dean Jackson

In August, we welcomed our newest cohort of 105 B.A./M.D. students to the School of Medicine. We know that our success starts with the recruitment of the best, brightest and most diverse group of students. At their orientation, I identified that as a B.A./M.D. graduate of this medical school, there was no doubt in my mind that my family, my docents, starting with my year 1 docent, and the talented faculty I had the chance to engage with, shaped the physician I became. From medical school, through residency in pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s to fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Texas Southwestern, countless mentors, many who were the icons in pediatrics of that era, were my supporters along the way as I became a clinician, educator and researcher through the last three decades and eventually dean in 2018.

At the orientation ceremony for our Year 1 class, Dr. Bridgette Jones, assistant dean of student affairs, told the students that we are here to cheer them on, provide support and guidance through difficult times and to make sure they have fun and are celebrated along the way. Dr. Allan Davis, assistant dean of admissions, provided the diversity snapshot of the students of the Class of 2028, noting that while most of our students came from within our state and the Kansas City region, we also saw students come from as far away as Massachusetts to California, from a town of 2,000 to a metro area of 9.5 million. Approximately a quarter of the class of 2028 are from a racial group underrepresented in higher education or medicine, grew up in a rural area, identify as LGBTQIA, or are first-generation students. Dr. Davis emphasized that our newest students, especially, in the thick of a global pandemic and a transition to a new normal, showed resiliency, creativity and fortitude as they found inventive ways to gain experience in and insight into the field of medicine.

One of the highlights of our Year 1 orientation is the presentation of the Garcia Memorial Award, presented this year to Samuel Kim, who was selected by his student peers. He was introduced as a passionate, top student who is motivated, knowledgeable, compassionate and selfless. Sam identified the thrill of meeting classmates, the fear of starting the accelerated curriculum and the strange feeling of homesickness mixed with the novel thought of independence. He emphasized that our students are chosen and have the capacity to use their human-to-human connections “to protect the defenseless and heal the brokenhearted,” providing hope to patients who may be at the most hopeless moments in their lives.

The approach to medical education is changing across the country and many schools are embarking on curricular paths that mirror what UMKC SOM has utilized for more than 50 years. Whether our students enter as B.A./M.D. students or enter as M.D.-only students, they join a docent group that allows a team-based focus that promotes peer to peer student mentorship and supports an approach to optimize clinical care for our patients. As students graduate and move on to residency programs, they are recognized as being among the best of the best clinicians. We are also expanding our opportunities for students who have been nationally recognized for their engagement in local, regional and national medical research programs, diversity and advocacy initiatives, and as they embark on advanced degrees. Students have presented in national forums, becoming thought leaders and the physician scientists of the future who are changing the outcomes for patients from the urban core to residents of rural Missouri. The national recognition for our students ranges from Sophie Bernstein, class of 2024 who was selected for the 2022 Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee, to our nine students who most recently completed the National Institute of Health yearlong Medical Research Scholars Program and the NIDDK summer fellowship programs to those completing Master’s degrees like Divya Jain who will finish her two year program at the Kennedy School of Public Policy in 2023.

Our innovative medical education program continues to graduate the best, brightest, most caring and well-rounded physicians. We are proud of our talented and accomplished faculty who are passionate about serving the underserved and advancing medical research that changes outcomes for all patients. Advancing the health of people and populations depends on our ability to engage with our clinical partners in top quality clinical care, maintain our innovative curriculum, engage in scientific discovery, collaborate with our communities, promote work to achieve health equity, and to elevate our standards of professionalism and ethics. It is also critical that we enhance the medical school environment moving forward as this too positively impacts our students’ learning, achievement and wellbeing.

On the horizon, we will be breaking ground for a new UMKC School of Medicine building on the rural campus in St. Joseph and continue fundraising for a new Health Innovation building on the Kansas City campus that will allow us to expand our student learning space and simulation capabilities. We are also renovating and expanding our student classroom space in our current building and envisioning an expanded renovation of the outdoor plaza that can become an additional space for our student to gather and study together.

The coming months are going to be exciting and I am eager to see where we go in our next 50 years!

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

$100 Million Project Planned for Health Sciences District

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is poised to begin work on a new interprofessional health sciences building in the UMKC Health Sciences District, housing expanded medical school teaching facilities and new, state-of-the-art dental teaching clinics.

The multi-story, $100 million project also will serve as a home for the university’s Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center and Biomedical Engineering program. This project will take the Health Sciences District to the next level, accelerating health care access and equity for the community and sparking development to turn the campus into a regional draw, igniting entrepreneurship and economic growth for the city and region.

The state of Missouri has appropriated $40 million for the building in legislation signed by Gov. Mike Parson on July 1. This appropriation comes with a challenge to the Kansas City community to raise the additional $60 million to build the $100 million project.

The project has broad and enthusiastic support from the City of Kansas City, Jackson County and multiple business, civic and economic development organizations. The project will add impact and momentum to the burgeoning growth underway in the district – including recent additions such as Children’s Mercy Kansas City’s $200 million Research Institute tower, the $70 million University Health 2 medical office building and the $45 million University Health 1 building.

Civic leaders view the UMKC project as a next step toward the launch of a comprehensive development plan for the district.

“A united medical and dental building will be a signature facility, as there is only one such institution in the country with this combined learning and clinical environment,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “The project will spark an expansion of the entire UMKC Health Sciences District that could dramatically expand health care in Kansas City, attract top faculty and researchers and new private investment that could create new jobs and eventually contribute billions to the Kansas City economy.”

Academic medical centers in San Antonio, Memphis and Denver, among others across the country, have transformed districts with an estimated multibillion regional economic impact annually.

Additionally, an interprofessional health building allows for increased collaboration among health care fields, which creates a greater capacity for developing health solutions and providing patient care. UMKC is one of only 20 universities in the country where dentistry, medicine, nursing and health studies, and pharmacy share a single, walkable campus, which underscores the need to continue to provide opportunities for collaboration among the health sciences.

UMKC will occupy the first several floors of the project and additional floors may be available to public partners for medical office space, clinical space and other uses. Here’s what will be housed in the UMKC space:

School of Medicine

The new building will provide state of the art educational facilities for UMKC medical students and programs, such as space for more simulation labs, which lead to better training for students and better care for the community. The expansion also will allow for necessary infrastructure changes to improve the school, including increased capacity for digitization with additional space for fiberoptic cables, improved air flow throughout the building and expanded classroom space.

School of Dentistry

These state-of-the-art clinics will attract some of the best students and faculty from the region, making UMKC competitive with top schools across the country. In addition, UMKC will have increased space to continue its important work in serving the underserved – delivering almost $1 million in uncompensated care to those who otherwise might not get treatment. With a new interprofessional medical building, the next generation of dentists can be taught to deliver better dental care at a lower cost. Another benefit will be the expansion of dental emergency services, which will lower the number of dental emergencies seen at hospital emergency rooms and continue to make first-rate dental care more accessible to the community.

Biomedical Engineering

Proximity between doctors and developers of medical devices is paramount, and this new building will foster faster, more effective collaboration between engineers and medical professionals to accelerate product development in areas such as imaging technology, implants and microsurgery tools. UMKC will expand its ability for creating new technology, generating innovations for products and patents with the potential to work with companies to develop and produce them.

Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center

Through its expertise in data science, UMKC and its clinical partners are ushering forward a new era of personalized health care — one that will treat diseases based on individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle, rather than a traditional one-size-fits-all approach. The data center’s work will drive innovation in a variety of domains, ranging from health care and business intelligence to agriculture and digital humanities

50 Years of Improving the Health of Our Community

A look at the unique qualities, accomplishments of the UMKC School of Medicine

Fifty years ago, UMKC launched a bold experiment in educating the medical leaders of the future. Today, the UMKC School of Medicine is a cornerstone of Kansas City’s medical community.

Along the way, the school has grown into a national leader and trend-setter in medical education with innovative research that has improved the health and well-being of Kansas City, the state of Missouri and beyond.

Here are five things that make UMKC’s School of Medicine so special:

  1. The UMKC School of Medicine is one of only two medical schools nationally that accepts students upon high school graduation and puts them through a rigorous program that earns them B.A. and M.D. degrees in just six years. Upon entering the B.A./M.D. program, students are classified as professional students. They begin studying medicine on their first day and clinical experience begins immediately. The initial two years also include courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts, chemistry or biology. Clinical experiences increase in the third year, when students work together one-half day a week in an outpatient continuing care clinic. They also work on two-month internal medicine rotations throughout each of their final three years.This unique and innovative curriculum provides students with early and continuous patient-care experience and fully integrates liberal arts/humanities, basic sciences and clinical medicine. The learning environment de-emphasizes competition and encourages learning through close faculty-student interaction and student partnerships.
  2. As a foundation of UMKC’s medical education program, the docent system takes the best of apprenticeship learning and combines it with small-group teaching, mentoring, peer coaching and other techniques. Students start their education by joining a docent team, where they learn from one another, as well as from faculty physicians known as docents. In this setting, docents provide clinical instruction while also guiding students’ personal and professional development. The system develops the attitudes, beliefs, competencies, habits and standards students need to be the best physicians possible.
  1. In 2021, the school expanded its program to St. Joseph to address the state’s rural physician shortage. The new campus is a partnership with Mosaic Life Care and is aimed at increasing primary care providers to improve patient access throughout Missouri. The disparities in care in rural areas result in higher rates of death, disability and chronic disease for rural Americans, and have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Expansion of the UMKC medical school to the northwestern region of the state will serve to bridge this gap, knowing that students training in rural programs are three times as likely to remain in practice in those areas.
  1. Throughout its history, the UMKC School of Medicine has established a strong tradition of community outreach – a practice its students engage in early on and one that graduates carry with them into their careers.
    • Our Healthy Kansas City Eastside, a community health collaborative created to address COVID-19 in underserved neighborhoods, administered more than 11,000 vaccinations in Kansas City neighborhoods with high health care disparity. Backed by nearly $5 million in CARES Act funding through Jackson County, Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., professor of biomedical and health informatics and director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute, took up the challenge to bring the message as well as the needed vaccines to Kansas City communities with some of the lowest vaccination rates in the city.
    • The Sojourner Health Clinic was founded by a group of medical students in 2004. Students have organized this program as a service-learning project: Students from across the health sciences campus learn about working with vulnerable populations outside of the hospital setting and how to create and sustain a free health clinic, while providing a needed service to the Kansas City community.
  1. UMKC is one of 20 universities in the country where Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy share a single, walkable campus, fostering exceptional student learning opportunities. Why does that matter? That co-location encourages interprofessional collaboration on clinical care and research from the get-go. Together, our four health sciences schools share the vision and spirit, along with the resources and academic programs, to launch you into the right health professions career. Our unique structure positions UMKC as a leader in interprofessional education — a cross-discipline approach that prepares students to provide the best patient care in a collaborative team environment. UMKC is Kansas City’s top provider of health care professionals.

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.”