Meet the school’s new alumni president

Dr. Ralph Wuebker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A School of Medicine original takes alumni and engagement post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curriculum Council welcomes Jaqueline Walker, M.D., as vice-chair

Jacqueline Walker, M.D.,

Jacqueline Walker, M.D., M.P.H.E., F.A.A.P., associate professor of pediatrics, has been appointed vice-chair clinician of the School of Medicine Council on Curriculum. She will also serve as chair of the Clerkship Directors Subcommittee.

A pediatric hospitalist and academic medical educator at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Walker serves as Pediatric Hospital Medicine Fellowship Director and is vice-chair of the national Pediatric Hospital Medicine Fellowship Directors Executive Council. She was elected to the School of Medicine Council on Curriculum in 2017 and joined the council’s steering committee the following year.

Walker is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and completed her residency and chief residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She then joined the Pediatric Hospital Medicine Division at Children’s Mercy. She has since served in multiple educational leadership roles on local and national levels across the spectrum of undergraduate and graduate medical education.

With scholarly interests including faculty development and implementation of academic medical curricula, Walker earned an advanced degree in education from the School of Medicine’s Master of Health Professions Education program in 2017.

Welcome new parents!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Class of 2025 enjoys move-in day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Scholars Information – Undergraduate

University of Missouri-Kansas City
Health Science District
STAHR Summer Scholars

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, in cooperation with the Truman Medical Center and other affiliates at the Health Science District, will offer its First Annual STAHR Summer Scholars Program. This program provides a realistic introduction to the fields of medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry for current undergraduate students.

The Summer Scholars Program for 2019 will be take place over the course of six weeks. The program is designed to attract undergraduate students from groups who have been traditionally under-represented in healthcare professions, including economically disadvantaged, minority and rural students. Preference will be given to students who have expressed a specific interest in medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, or other healthcare careers.

Applicants seeking to participate in the STAHR Summer Scholars program will be required to provide documentation to indicate their eligibility for participation in the program.

This year, the Program will run from June 03, 2019 – July 12, 2019. The program will consist of weekday sessions from 7:50 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The program is free: no tuition is charged for program participation.

Students interested in STAHR Summer Scholars must meet the following requirements:

  • Current undergraduate student who will enter sophomore, junior or senior year in Fall 2019
  • Attend a public or private college or university in the Kansas City Metropolitan area (Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and Jackson, Platte, Clay and Cass Counties in Missouri)
  • Students must be available to attend all Summer Scholars sessions.
  • Demonstrate a background that is either economically or educationally disadvantaged (required documentation described in application)

The 2019 STAHR Summer Scholars Undergraduate application closed April 17, 2019 – 5:00 PM.