All posts by UMKC Strategic Marketing and Communications

Donors set sights on work at Vision Research Center

Situated prominently on the corner of 21st and Charlotte is UMKC School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Research Center, a bustling center of excellence within the new UMKC Health Sciences District. Yet, even with the cutting-edge research and advanced academics taking place under its roof, many are unaware of the critical position it plays in improving the treatment of eye disease for people in our community and beyond.

Nelson Sabates, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and co-director of the Vision Research Center, is working to heighten the facility’s recognition and its continued efforts to offer the most advanced academic environment for teaching the next generation of ophthalmologists.

Two recent gifts from donors, one from the estate of Mary Adams and the other from an anonymous contributor, are helping to make this goal possible by supporting basic science research being conducted by UMKC faculty members, Peter Koulen, Ph.D., and Karl Kador, Ph.D.

“These gifts will have a significant impact on our ability to provide newer and longer lasting treatments for patients diagnosed with glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy,” Sabates. “We are grateful to have been chosen by these donors as the recipients of their generous contributions to our mission of ensuring patients receive the most advanced medical treatments available.”

Both researchers are working to develop new therapy approaches urgently needed by physicians worldwide to better diagnose, prevent, and treat eye disease and vision disorders.

Koulen, the Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research and Director of Basic Research at the Vision Research Center, focuses on therapy development for chronic diseases of the eye and brain. Kador’s research focuses on creating three-dimensional models of the retina that can be used to understand how retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) integrate and form synapses (the point at which a nervous impulse passes from one neuron to another) with their binding partners within the retina. He and his lab are working to develop a functional cell source and transplantation method to treat optic neuropathies such as glaucoma and optic nerve stroke.

“Having an endowed chair in vision research has been instrumental in our ability to conduct research at UMKC and, in order to continue moving forward, we need to raise additional funds for a second endowed chair,” Sabates said.

Sabates will join the UMKC Foundation Board of Directors in July and is resolute in seeing a new health sciences building become a reality.

“I, along with many others, am a true advocate for advancing UMKC’s combined health sciences with a modern, functional space where faculty and students can have access to the latest technologies,” he said. “I am excited to be a voice for the health sciences arena at UMKC.”

Built on a 50-year history, UMKC’s Department of Ophthalmology and the Vision Research Center look to opportunities for future growth in research, education, prevention, treatment and outreach.

Kansas City’s leading health-care institutions team up to create UMKC Health Sciences District

UMKC’s health sciences community and surrounding hospitals are part of a newly created UMKC Health Sciences District announced Friday, May 19.

With a collaboration unlike any other in the nation, many of Kansas City’s leading health-care institutions announced today that they have agreed to align more closely to form the UMKC Health Sciences District. The newly created district combines the unique expertise and services of 10 partners to spur research and community outreach in service of the Kansas City region and beyond.

The UMKC Health Sciences District includes:

The UMKC Health Sciences District is unlike any other in the nation. It is one of 18 areas in the country that have public schools of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and nursing in one location along with a children’s hospital and an adult, acute-care hospital. But by including a health department, the medical examiner and a mental health center that bring together agencies of the city, county and state, the UMKC Health Sciences District is one of a kind.

Drawing on these institutions’ efforts, the UMKC Health Sciences District has the potential to enhance collaboration on research and grant requests; combine efforts on community outreach; improve faculty recruitment; coordinate area parking, safety and transportation; and create shared opportunities in health and wellness for more than 16,000 health professionals, faculty members and students.

“We have all worked together already for a long time, and worked very well together, but today we are opening a new chapter,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “Today, we will sign an agreement designed to stimulate economic growth and job creation, attract new talent to Kansas City, create shared opportunities in health and wellness, and improve opportunities for recruiting and neighborhood outreach.”

“Better functioning health-care teams provide better patient care. Interprofessional education means educating future physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and other health-care professionals to work effectively as members of those teams so that patients get the best and safest care possible,” said Steven L. Kanter, M.D., Dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. Kanter will serve as the first executive director of a newly-formed Health Sciences District Board.

“The UMKC Health Sciences District is the perfect environment for students, scientists and health-care professionals to work and learn together as they deliver top-quality, personalized health care,” Kanter said.

“This District is a collaboration among dedicated organizations determined to improve the health and wellness of people in Kansas City—and across the United States,” said Charlie Shields, President and Chief Executive Officer of Truman Medical Centers and University Health. “We believe that as the UMKC Health Sciences District, we will be able to stimulate collaboration in research, advance interprofessional education and foster communication. Those are the steps necessary to developing the kind of innovations that will shape the health care of the future.”

“Children’s Mercy is proud to be a part of this one-of-a-kind District, celebrating the collective spirit of innovation, research and discovery that drives our collaborative quest for answers, new treatments and cures,” said Randall L. O’Donnell, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Mercy. “And while today’s announcement focuses on the organizations within the boundaries of this District, the resulting impact of our work together will benefit every corner of our city and touch families throughout the region and the nation.”

The UMKC Health Sciences District will be governed by a board composed of approximately 20 members, including two from each institution. The board will also appoint a chair for a two-year period beginning July 1, 2018. The chair will rotate among the following participants in the following order: UMKC, TMC and CMH. The first chair, who will serve a two-year term, will be the UMKC Chancellor. The executive director of the District will serve a three-year term.

The District is about two miles in circumference and will be bound on the north by 20th Street; south by 25th Street; west by Oak Street; and east by U.S. 71 South.

UMKC, TMC and Children’s Mercy Win $930K Grant from CDC

cdc550The University of Missouri-Kansas City, Truman Medical Centers (TMC) and Children’s Mercy have won a quality-improvement grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for diagnostic laboratory testing at TMC. The three-year grant, which will use Cerner Health Facts data, is funded up to $930,000.

“The methods developed through this project will demonstrate value of both local and national medical data warehouses to inform quality improvement initiatives related to laboratory medicine,” said Mark Hoffman, primary investigator on the grant. Hoffman is chief research information officer at Children’s Mercy and is a faculty member in biomedical and health informatics and pediatrics at the UMKC School of Medicine. Kamani Lankachandra, chair of pathology at UMKC and the director of the pathology lab at TMC, is a co-investigator.

Diagnostic laboratory testing results are used in 60 to 70 percent of all clinical decisions. While laboratories have strong procedures to manage process-quality concerns within the lab, they often do not have access to reliable information related to test ordering or the use of test results to inform patient treatment.

Electronic health record data is increasingly used to populate local data warehouses, including those implemented using the National Institutes of Health-funded “informatics for integrating biology and the bedside” application, often shortened to i2b2. Some electronic health record vendors, including Cerner, manage national data warehouses populated with de-identified data from contributors that have provided data rights. Electronic health record data merged with laboratory information system data can provide diagnostic laboratories with information needed to better understand quality gaps, especially those related to test ordering and patient treatment informed by laboratory results.

TMC and their primary academic partner, UMKC, have collaborated with Cerner to implement i2b2 as a de-identified analytical data warehouse reflecting local clinical processes at TMC. And through this collaboration, UMKC has received a full copy of the Cerner Health Facts national data warehouse; few academic research centers in the world have access to this vast amount of medical data.

The de-identified data in Health Facts represents more than 600 inpatient and outpatient facilities and health care decisions for more than 47 million unique patients. Significantly, Health Facts includes more than 3 billion diagnostic laboratory results and more than 350 million medication orders.

UMKC will use the combination of i2b2 and Health Facts to prioritize up to 10 laboratory- related quality gaps, informed by insights from the practice-based evidence in Health Facts. TMC’s i2b2 data will be utilized to evaluate baseline status for candidate quality improvement projects. The prioritization phase will use Health Facts to characterize the severity of the quality gaps at TMC.

This project will provide methods that will enable TMC to develop quality improvement initiatives that are prioritized and designed using these data sources.

Health professions, law schools team up to help older Kansas Citians with aid of national grant

UMKC LOGOUniversity of Missouri-Kansas City health professions schools — the School of Nursing and Health Studies, School of Dentistry, School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy — and the School of Law were awarded a national grant to work together to advocate for older adults at the Don Bosco Senior Center and Reconciliation Services, both located in medically underserved areas in Kansas City.

By the year 2030, the U.S. population age 65 and older is expected to double, making older adults the fastest-growing group in the nation. Yet the vast majority of curriculum for health professions students does not include specific instruction dedicated to the needs of geriatric health. Designed for UMKC advanced practice nursing and graduate medical, dental, pharmacy and law students, the project will focus on enhancing active listening and empathic understanding in preparing student teams to advocate for older adults.

The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and the Gordon and Betty More Foundation, awarded a two-year, $50,000 matching grant to the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. Through matching funds from the partnering schools, this $100,000 project is one of 16 out of 44 universities to be awarded.

“This creative collective breathes new life into our pedagogical approach to educating health professionals,” said Ann Cary, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

“The proposed initiative will not only help to advance interprofessional education and interprofessional collaboration through bringing together medical, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy and law students, but will also address an important need, which is to increase health and law professional students’ knowledge and understanding of the health care and legal issues experienced by aged individuals,” said Steven L. Kanter, dean of the School of Medicine.

“The project is consistent with the mission of the health professions schools to promote excellence in delivering interprofessional curricular opportunities for students,” said Russ Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy.

“The project will improve our graduates’ ability to form relationships with other health care professionals while developing an understanding of the issues facing an aging populace,” said Marsha Pyle, dean of the School of Dentistry.

“The project design, which is to capture the lived experiences of aging and access to care, will serve a diverse elder population, the majority of who come from the lowest economic level,” said Mo Orphin, executive director of the Don Bosco Center.

“This initiative will be an important educational experience for UMKC health and law students, and will benefit our clients through the health education plans that will result from this innovative partnership,” said the Rev. Justin Mathews, executive director of Reconciliation Services.

Titled, Cultivating an Empathic Understanding of Aging: An Interprofessional Approach to Enhanced Provider-Patient Relationships as the Cornerstone of Person-Centered Care, this initiative will accomplish the following goals:

  • Establish a community of practice among health professions and law students to allow for the acquisition of new knowledge through team interaction toward excellence in patient care.
  • Improve provider-patient relationships with older adults by developing health professions and law students’ abilities to capture an individual’s story about aging and the illness experience.
  • Improve acceptance of patients of all ages by sensitizing practitioners to age-based stereotyping that interferes with provider-patient engagement.
  • Increase empathic understanding and collaboration among health professions and law students to foster their ability and willingness to participate in public service as advocates for older adults.

“UMKC and its professional schools are uniquely positioned to focus on issues relating to gerontology across disciplines,” said Ellen Suni, dean of the School of Law. “This project will promote collaboration and recognition of interdisciplinary solutions to health problems while promoting students’ inclination toward public service.”

“We are all readers and translators of the narrative of others,” said Margaret Brommelsiek, principal investigator of the grant at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. “Interprofessional education helps students foster their skills in reading and narrating. The most skilled communicators tell a story that can be understood by both the individual patient as well as those involved across the health professions.”

Returning and new students express excitement for the semester’s start

It was move in day for UMKC students at the Hospital Hill Apartments and the Oak Place Apartments on the Volker Campus.
It was move in day for UMKC students at the Hospital Hill Apartments and the Oak Place Apartments on the Volker Campus.

For three days, cars lined the streets around the University of Missouri-Kansas City Volker and Health Sciences campuses as 1,500 students moved into apartments and residence halls. All in preparation for the 2016-17 academic year, which starts Aug. 22.

Nearly 750 returning, transfer and graduate students moved into Oak Place Apartments and Hospital Hill Apartments on Aug. 17.

Jessica Swaim, UMKC School of Pharmacy student, arrived early on the first day. From Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Swain didn’t have far to drive as she begins her second year. “I’m looking forward to learning more about pharmacy and getting more involved in student organizations.”

Vincent Gover had a nine-hour drive from Texas. He’s a first year doctoral composition student at theUMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. Originally from Maryland, Gover chose UMKC because of the Conservatory’s reputation. A meeting with Conservatory Professor Paul Rudy impressed him the most. After meeting other professors and learning about the great things Conservatory students do, Gover said he was hooked. “I wanted to tap into that.”

Junior transfer student Carl Redmon II bubbled with excitement as he moved into his apartment. Redmon received an associate’s degree at another institution and lived at home. Now, he’s looking forward to “the whole college experience by living on campus.”

When choosing a school to continue his education in psychology, Redmon chose UMKC because he wanted to move from his home city of St. Louis without being too far away.

Returning to the UMKC Conservatory is sophomore music therapy student Helena Collins-Gravitt.

Collins-Gravitt plays the bass, but will take time this year to learn how to play the guitar for her music therapy program. “I’m looking forward to the specialized courses for my degree.”

Dominique Liddell, junior UMKC School of Education student, is from Kansas City, Kansas. She’s looking forward to specializing in early childhood development. Liddell unpacked with confidence and ease because she’s been through the routine before. And with her goals in sight, she’s ready get down to work. “I’m really excited.”

Chloe Rickett-Gay, junior business marketing student from St. Louis, is looking forward to being an upperclassman and taking classes related to her major. As with Liddell and others, she’s been through the routine before and brought comfort items. For Rickett-Gay, those items are plush blankets and lots of them. “It’s serious!”

Many parents were just as excited. Dana Crowder, sophomore pre-nursing student from Salina, Kansas, had help from her mom as she moved into her apartment. Crowder’s mother, Chanel Thomas, had glowing remarks for her daughter’s choice of college. “Everything is tailored to the student.” As a parent, Thomas said she appreciated UMKC’s focus on student success.

Parental encouragement in choosing UMKC was also key for Shae Perry, sophomore communications and journalism student from St. Louis. Her mom encouraged her to come to UMKC and get out on her own.

“I’m looking forward to a great year,” Perry said. Things will be busy for her, though, as Perry will soon start a new job as promotion director with K-ROO Radio. And, when asked what one item she couldn’t come to college without, she replied, “A full-length mirror.”

With emotions even higher at Oak Street Hall on Aug. 18, freshman students in the six-year medical degree program at the UMKC School of Medicine navigated the maze of suitcases, boxes and clothes lining the sidewalks.

August Frank, O’Fallon, Missouri., is looking forward to becoming a doctor and everything that leads up to it. Although he was nervous, he also was eager to start the next chapter of his life.

“This is your first big adult thing to do,” Frank said. Making the choice to attend UMKC was just the beginning. “The six-year medical program is something you can’t pass up.”

Rave reviews for UMKC’s six-year medical program was common for the first-year students. Valerie Kirtley, Chicago, said she knew a six-year medical program was right for her.  A visit to Kansas City solidified her choice.

“I fell in love with Kansas City,” Kirtley said. “UMKC is really friendly.”

Although she expressed feelings of stress and anxiety, Kirtley also welcomed it all. “It’s going to be a hard six years, but good.”

Derek Wang, Columbia, Missouri, is looking forward to getting to know people and starting college.

“I’ve always been interested in science,” Wang said. And, Wang wants to give back to the community. Becoming a doctor is his way to do that. “I can serve people as best I can.”

The last day of UMKC Move-In, Aug. 19, was a whirlwind with an endless line of vehicles along Oak Street as more freshmen and returning students moved into Johnson Hall and Oak Street Hall. If tears were shed, it was done in private. Smiles and expressions of joy calmed the nerves of students and families. And as with the previous day, boxes and bags were taken from cars, piled into carts and hauled to student rooms with help from the UMKC student volunteer moving crew — Roo Haul.

Roo Haul volunteers also helped calm jittery nerves for students such as Shaina Vinyard. Their advice to the freshman from Excelsior Springs, Missouri: Get involved. Vinyard plans to do just that. As a chemistry major focused on getting into the UMKC School of Dentistry, she’s looking forward to meeting new people and getting involved in the many campus activities.

Hannah Ailes also got help with heavy lifting from Roo Haul volunteers, and from her family. It took three vehicles to bring her things from Oronago, Missouri. After expressing relief that everything fit in her room, Ailes will start unpacking and preparing for her studies as a studio art major. She’s looking forward to taking business courses, as part of her minor, and getting out and about.

“I like coming to big cities because there’s so much to do,” Ailes said.

Cara Nordengren traveled a little further: from West Des Moines, Iowa. She was drawn to the city and the small campus.

“I like Kansas City,” Nordengren said.

Nordengren is a sophomore with a double major in art history and criminology/criminal justice, and a minor in psychology. She’s looking forward to having a busy semester with an independent study with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Go to for more photos of move in day at UMKC.

Services announced for Dr. Mark Friedell

Mark Friedell, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Mark Lowry Friedell, M.D., F.A.C.S., died late Sunday, July 10.

Dr. Friedell came to the UMKC School of Medicine in 2012, where he had served as professor and chair of the Department of Surgery.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Beloit College and his medical degree from the University of Bologna in Italy, followed by a residency at University of Massachusetts Medical Center and fellowship at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Prior to joining UMKC, he was a clinical associate professor of surgery at the University of Central Florida, academic chair of surgical education for Orlando Regional Healthcare/Orlando Health and program director of general surgery for Orlando Health.

A celebration of life will be held 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 17 at Orlando County Club, Orlando, Forida. In lieu of flowers, donations are request to: Level 1 Trauma Center, Orlando Regional Medical Center,, in memory of Dr. Friedell.

Physician Leadership Program: Providing business acumen to grow health care leaders into effective change makers

UMKC LOGOWhen Angeline Stanislaus, M.D., became chief medical officer for adults for the Missouri Department of Mental Health in 2014, she recognized a need for further education to support her new role. After researching programs, she decided to apply to the UMKC Physician Leadership Program to expand her business acumen.

Though working in a senior leadership role while taking the program was challenging, Dr. Stanislaus found it more meaningful. “The experience opened my mind to look at leadership with a wider lens,” she said. “A culture of an organization needs to change for the change to be sustained. That was something I truly gained after attending the program.”

In her current position, Dr. Stanislaus provides leadership and mentors the department clinical staff. She also promotes top quality care, department-wide policy, and professional, clinical and ethical values and standards. Now that she’s completed the Physician Leadership Program, she is able to better understand and incorporate the workplace culture in her work, making her a more effective leader.

“Leading others requires a set of tools that I received through the Physician Leadership Program,” she said. “We focused on planning, building teams, process management and other skills that are different than the work I did as a forensic psychiatrist.”

Before accepting her executive leadership role at the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Dr. Stanislaus practiced forensic psychiatry for 14 years. She earned her medical degree from Tirunelveli Medical College, Madurai Kamaraj University in India, and completed her residency in psychiatry with a fellowship in forensic psychiatry from Southern Illinois University. She has also worked as a consultant, professor, corrections psychiatrist and in private practice. While she credits this diverse experience in helping her become a chief medical officer, she says her education through the Physician Leadership Program gave her the tools to be an effective change maker and leader.

Applications are being accepted for the UMKC Physician Leadership Program, which begins in April 2017. It is a partnership between the UMKC School of Medicine and the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. It is designed to provide comprehensive management skills that will prepare physicians to successfully fulfill the leadership requirements of 21st century health-care delivery. The application deadline is February 3, 2017.

For more information about the program, visit the website.

UMKC student researchers find health hazards associated with marijuana use

Kavelin Rumalla and Adithi Reddy

For generations, marijuana has been the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. It is considered to have so few adverse effects that Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized marijuana, and more states are considering decriminalization.

However, results of a study by two second-year University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine students, Kavelin Rumalla and Adithi Y. Reddy, and Manoj K. Mittal M.D., an assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, turn the notion upside down. Their study, published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences, found that recreational use of marijuana increases the likelihood of hospitalization for acute ischemic stroke by 17 percent.

The report concludes that a lack of high-level evidence regarding the adverse effects of marijuana usage on cerebrovascular health has permitted the false notion that recreational marijuana is safe.

“While we are politically neutral on the topic of marijuana, we believe society deserves to know about its potential health consequences,” said Rumalla, lead author on the manuscript.

Ischemic stroke is typically caused by plaque build up in arteries inside the skull or from blood clots that move from the body to the brain. It is the leading cause of long-term disability and the third-leading cause of death in the United States, affecting nearly 800,000 Americans a year.

Rumalla and Reddy investigated the relationship between marijuana use and hospitalization for ischemic stroke using data collected between 2004 and 2011 from the largest hospital inpatient database in the United States. Their report, “Recreational marijuana use and acute ischemic stroke: A population-based analysis of hospitalized patients in the United States,” says the incidence of ischemic stroke was significantly greater among marijuana users than non-users, particularly in the 25- to 34-year-old age group.

“There’s a gap in public knowledge about the health effects of marijuana,” said Reddy. “The challenge is that it’s difficult to research marijuana in a widespread prospective clinical study because it is illegal in most parts of the country. This makes epidemiological studies like ours even more important at this point in time.”

The study compared the incidence of stroke among 2,496,165 marijuana users and 116,163,453 non-users. It concluded that marijuana use was independently associated with an increased likelihood of hospitalization for stroke among adults ages 15 to 54.

The research also supported the notion that marijuana is a gateway drug, as users are more likely to also use other substances including tobacco and cocaine.

“That’s even more hazardous to health when combined with marijuana use,” Rumalla said.

The aftermath of a stroke can include weakness, numbness and stiffness physically; emotional experiences, changes and problems; and the process of thinking, remembering and recognizing things can become challenging, according to the National Stroke Association.

“This is important research,” said Steven L. Kanter, dean of the UMKC School of Medicine and a neurosurgeon. “The prevailing thought about marijuana use is that there aren’t that many side effects. But this study shows us that recreational marijuana usage independently associates with hospitalizations for stroke. And life after a stroke can be most difficult.”

School of Medicine student competes on ‘Jeopardy!’

Third-year medical student Kent Buxton appears on the television game show, “Jeopardy!” with host Alex Trebek.

Kent Buxton, a third-year student, made his debut on the game show “Jeopardy!” on Monday, March 28. The appearance fulfills a longtime dream for Buxton, who is studying to become an emergency medicine physician.

“I’ve wanted to be on Jeopardy since I was in high school playing quiz bowl at Notre Dame (in Cape Girardeau, MO),” Buxton said.

He finished third in Monday’s contest. Only the winner advances to the next day’s show.

That “Jeopardy!” seed might have been planted much earlier. Buxton’s fun-fact story on the show involves his father accidentally training him to compete by drilling him on the names of the 50 states and their capitals when he was only about 3 years old.

Buxton tried out for the “Jeopardy!” college tournament in 2008, and got an audition in Chicago, but did not make it. Once Buxton was eligible for the adult show, he took his time pursuing “Jeopardy!” again.

“I figured it was better to wait until I was older since many competitors have a lot more life experiences that could help on the show,” Buxton said.

Buxton taught for a several years, and served as a medical scribe in St. Louis hospitals before starting medical school at UMKC. He took the Jeopardy online test this past April, and auditioned June 30 at Crown Center.

“I had to skip one of my classes and write a five-page research paper as a make-up assignment in order to attend, but I was able to walk from school to the audition,” he said. There, he took a written test and played a practice round.

In December, Buxton got the call he had been accepted.

“I was beyond excited,” he said. “I flew to L.A. to tape the show two days before a microbiology exam that I wasn’t totally prepared for.”

Buxton said his heart raced during the taping but he eventually settled down. He joked around with host Alex Trebek: “What was it like being shoved into a phone booth with Shaq?”

“I cannot say how the game turned out, but I had a ton of fun,” Buxton said before the show aired on March 28.

“Jeopardy!” is in its 32nd season in syndication, with 25 million viewers tuning in each week. Contestants participate in three rounds of trivia in which they give their responses in the form of a question. At the end of each show, the winner is named and that person returns in the next episode to defend his or her title as returning champion.

School of Medicine sets aside day to recognize residents, fellows

The School of Medicine will take a day to recognize its residents and fellows with the first Resident/Fellow Appreciation Day on Feb. 25.

Colleagues cheered on Joanne “Jo” Marasigan, a second-year orthopedic resident at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, in a crutches/walker/wheelchair relay race. “Go Flo-Jo!”

Marasigan and 20 of her physician-in-training colleagues also competed in casting and suturing competitions, using medical guidelines, in an OrthOlympics, all part of a pilot program conceptualized by the UMKC School of Medicine to create a National Resident/Fellow Appreciation Day Feb. 25.

“It’s a great idea because every health profession gets a day of recognition,” Marasigan said between jovial competitions. “We get lumped in with other doctors but really, we’re a subset of doctors who work much longer hours. There’s a lot at stake here: a day off as the gold medal.”

There are more than 120,000 residents and fellows — physicians in training — in the United States. Called housestaff, residents and fellows work long hours, typically up to 80 per week, at a much lower salary than healthcare professionals who have completed training. Marasigan’s colleague, James Barnes, M.D., developed the idea for a national recognition day after seeing other healthcare professions honored.

“UMKC has over 400 physicians in training who contribute nearly 1.5 million hours a year to serve patients and gain practical experience and expertise,” said Barnes, the UMKC Housestaff Council President and event organizer. “To our knowledge, there is no national day designated to recognize this unique set of healthcare workers.”

As institutional sponsor of the residency and fellowship programs, the UMKC School of Medicine and clinical training partners including Truman Medical Centers, Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Children’s Mercy, Center for Behavioral Medicine and Kansas City VA Medical Center are participating with catered meals, snacks, banners, gifts and special events to recognize the residents and fellows.

Various departments are celebrating in unique ways, such as hula dancing and yoga sessions for the Department of Emergency Medicine. Several departments are having catered on-site pancakes, and Barnes’ department, Orthopedic Surgery, held the “OrthOlympics.”

Barnes is also conducting a research project in collaboration with faculty mentor and Orthopedic Program Director, James Bogener, M.D., on the effects of the recognition and appreciation on residents/fellows. Barnes and Bogener are conducting a survey to gauge residents’ and fellows’ thoughts on the day and how it affects their perception of the workplace and their satisfaction.

This event has been made possible through the facilitation of the UMKC School of Medicine Housestaff Council and the Council on Graduate Medical Education. The UMKC councils’ goal is to present the event to national organizations including the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), American Medical Association (AMA) and American Osteopathic Association (AOA) to make Resident and Fellow Appreciation Day a day of recognition nationally for all residents and fellows.

“We are proud, but not surprised, that our residents and fellows at the UMKC School of Medicine conceptualized this important event,” said Steven L. Kanter, M.D., dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. “We look forward to celebrating their critical contributions as integral members of the patient-care team.”