A message from Dean Jackson

A new year and a new semester bring hope and reminders that we accomplished much in 2020 despite all the obstacles a pandemic brings.

As an infectious disease specialist, I’ve spent my career studying communicable disease epidemiology. I’ve been involved in vaccine development and implementation, including in response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza virus. But SARS CoV-2 is unique, and it has been unbelievable watching the devastating impact of this virus unfold with more than 88 million infections and more than 1.9 million deaths recorded across 218 countries and territories.

Within the United States as of Jan. 13, there have been more than 22 million cases and deaths have exceeded 382,000. A terrible milestone was reached twice in one week in January when more than 4,000 U.S. deaths occurred in a day. In our country, in our state and in our city, our hospitals have been challenged – we have dealt with the hard truth that at various times we have had insufficient open beds, shortages of PPE and a need for more nurses and other members of our team to care for patients. While we welcome the first ever COVID vaccines, and rejoice that more than 10 million physicians, nurses and other front line workers have received one of the vaccines, it will be well into this spring — if we launch a more effective implementation program — before we can safely say that the pandemic is under control. Still, our SOM is celebrating as vaccines have been administered to most staff and faculty at our clinical sites, while the vaccination of medical, PA and MSA students has started. That said, we continue to emphasize the critical importance of adhering with requirements for masks, social distancing and avoiding community or family gatherings that may put more people at risk.

This month, course work and clinical rotations have begun for the first group of students at our St. Joseph campus. Our partnership there with Mosaic Health System is supported by a $7 million grant from HRSA. This marks a significant expansion of our commitment to rural medicine, a pressing need in Missouri and many other states. At the Health Sciences District campus, our students have continued their education, not missing a beat as they move toward graduation. On both campuses, a careful blend of online courses and in-person clinicals promises to keep our students safe while giving them the patient interaction and docent learning that are hallmarks of our unique approach to training tomorrow’s physicians and physician assistants.

The final months of 2020 also reminded us that our commitment to research benefits us all. The School of Medicine has more than doubled the amount of awards we’ve received in the past 5 years. Most recently, Peter Koulen, Ph.D., at the Vision Research Center and Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., leading the UMKC Health Equity Institute have secured grants to further their vital work. One recent alumni, Apurva Bhatt, currently a UMKC psychiatry resident, gained national recognition for her findings on guns and suicide. And our students continue to be encouraged to conduct their own research through top national fellowships, our longstanding Sarah Morrison grants program, and student research events such as the Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality & Patient Safety Day and the Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship, which will be held virtually this year.

On Jan. 13, we bid farewell to our founding PA program director, Kathy Ervie, who is taking a fulltime clinical position with an orthopaedic group in Clinton, Missouri. After graduating from Butler University’s PA program in 1998 and receiving her master’s degree in physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska, Kathy practiced full-time in the area of orthopedic surgery in our community before brainstorming and moving forward a plan to launch a PA program at UMKC SOM. She took a full year to build our program, which started in 2012 with Kathy as its founding PD.

With 92 graduates as of May 2020, a 100 percent certification exam pass rate and a 100 percent employment rate, the PA program has been vastly successful and is ready to expand in 2022. Even the disruption of COVID-19 did not stop the MMSPA program, as Kathy developed a contingency plan to avoid disruption of student enrollment, remain in alignment with ARC-PA accreditation standards, and continue to support student opportunities and assessment to meet program learning outcomes.

As I watched Kathy work with students over the last three years, I saw her as someone who communicated thoughtfully, asking her students to commit to their work as she willingly engaged in all aspects of their education. There are big shoes to fill indeed for the next PD!

We also mourned the passing of Dr. Louise Arnold on Dec. 17 and gave thanks for all she accomplished in 40-plus years at the school in posts that included associate dean for medical education and research. She served the school from its outset as a true pioneer and the foremost proponent in national medical education circles of our 6-year B.A./M.D. program and docent education. We deeply miss her, personally and professionally.

In light of all we accomplished in the past year despite the pandemic, we look forward to continued advances in 2021. Just as our students, faculty and staff are furthering our mission in medical education, research and service, I know that each of you continues to make a difference in people’s lives. Thank you for your continued support and your contributions to our legacy.

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

The Collective – UMKC DEI Updates

Melissa Lewis, Ph.D.

• UMKC SOM Saint Joseph’s Campus – In 2020, UMKC School of Medicine was awarded a Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Medical Student Education Grant to start a medical school campus in the rural community of Saint Joseph, Missouri. The grant’s goal is to increase the workforce of primary care physicians providing medical care to rural, tribal, and resource-limited communities. Melissa Lewis, Ph.D., a member of the Cherokee Nation, research expert about indigenous populations and revitalizing traditional, cultural lifestyles in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, will work collaboratively with the Office of DEI. She will have a joint, faculty appointment at the Saint Joseph’s campus and support and promote recruitment, retention, and education about American Indian and indigenous communities. The School of Medicine is also looking to have a Native American Elder assist with ensuring that our energies and work about recruitment, retention, and education are respectful to the spirits and bodies of the land the School of Medicine occupies.

Mikah Thompson, J.D.

• Curriculum – The Anti-Racism and Cultural Bias modules launched during the 2020-2021 academic year with the first module titled Cultural Self-Awareness/Cultural Sensibility. Professor Mikah Thompson from UMKC School of Law has taught this topic to year 2 students, 4th-6th year students in Nov. – Dec. DoRo , and additional modules to physician assistant students. Thompson will continue leading efforts to provide this educational curriculum to years 3 – 6 students as well as anesthesiologist assistant students in the spring. The curriculum continues to evolve with the assistance and support of Tamorah Lewis, M.D., Ph.D., Diana Dark, M.D., Nurry Pirani, M.D., Julie Banderas, Ph.D., Kathy Ervie, Melanie Guthrie, Rachel McCommon, and Doris Agwu.

The Office of DEI is currently developing education and training about DEI topics specifically identity, implicit bias, and microaggressions. These sessions will be offered throughout the academic year with the first sessions available in spring 2021. More information to come in 2021.

Congratulations to Rachel McCommon who gave an excellent, interactive presentation on Dec. 9 titled Identity in the Workplace for the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Collective – Affiliate Institutions

Children’s Mercy Kansas City

Children’s Mercy Kansas City has offered multiple events about diversity, equity, and inclusion over the month of November with additional events planned in December. Recent events are listed below:

November 2020 – Annually, Ingram’s Magazine profiles Kansas City physicians who demonstrate exceptional skill in delivering medical care with Bridgette Jones, M.D., MSCR, honored as one of the top doctors.

Nov. 4 – La Casa Latino ERG, Office of Equity and Diversity, and Spiritual Services along with community partner Mattie Rhodes Counseling and Art Center for the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) holiday service. Día de Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated in Mexico and elsewhere associated with the Catholic celebrations remembering loved one who have died.

Nov. 11 – Coordinated by the Interfaith ERG and Spiritual Services, the Diwali celebration was part of the Wondrous Wednesday Series including dances and vocal performances.

Nov. 19 – Bruder F. Stapleton, M.D., senior vice president for scientific affairs at Seattle Children’s Hospital presented the topic titled “How to be An Ally in Addressing Racism and Discrimination” at Diversity Grand Rounds discussing his journey as an ally, pediatric leader, and addressing racism at Seattle Children’s.

Nov. 20 – CM Pride’s Education and Professional Development Workgroup partnered with the InterFaith Employee Resource Group to bring the Transgender Day of Remembrance honoring the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of violence.

Dec. 9 – Not-So-Journal Club series aims to cultivate conversations that inspire personal and system change through examining articles relevant to achieving equity in the healthcare environment. The last session was titled “I’m Speaking…and now I’m Leaving: Why Black Women are Leaving Academic Medicine.”

CM Pride T-Shirt Sale – CM Pride raised $1,500 from the T-shirt fundraiser for the GPS Clinic, which passionately recognizes and celebrates cultural differences.


Saint Luke’s Health System

Conversation with … “Conversations With” video series launched in fall 2020 to foster ongoing conversations among Saint Luke’s employees with the first video featuring the personal journey of Black Saint Luke’s leaders.

“Join the Discussion: What Taught You the Most in 2020? What Did You Learn?” – The DEI department leads a series of virtual discussions called “What Taught You the Most in 2020? What Did You Learn?” Fifteen hundred employees have joined the discussions with the program continuing into 2021.

Honoring our Veterans – Saint Luke’s acknowledged and thanked our Veterans via social media and with a special video honoring all SLHS veterans.


Truman Medical Center
Health Sciences Campus

Maria Morgan, J.D., is the new chief equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) officer. She has spent most of her career reviewing, developing, and implementing programming and policy focused on equity and inclusion through her work in health care and education.

Maria Morgan, J.D., and Russell Anderson

Russell Anderson is the new senior program manager for EDI. He will also be working with the chief human resources (HR) Officer to support HR programmatic needs.

Celebrating Diversity

In Nov. 2020, TMC/UH celebrated its veterans with a special flag-raising ceremony at TMC Lakewood on Veterans Day.  Employees who are veterans received “Challenge” coins and meal vouchers. The Day of Transgender Remembrance was acknowledged on Nov. 20 with a feature in the organizational newsletter and on the internal digital displays. Native American Heritage Month was acknowledged through various newsletters and social media.

A message from Dean Jackson

Recruiting, educating and graduating the students at our medical school are occurring in a time like no other. In the year 2020, as we confront the global COVID-19 pandemic, we also stand united in fighting the injustices and inequities that are emblematic of racism in America.

In our country, in our state, and in our city, hospitals have been overwhelmed and have dealt with the hard truth that we have insufficient beds, continued critical shortages of personal protective equipment, and too few nurses and other members of our team to care for patients. The physical and mental health tolls have required specific efforts to address and care for those who are suffering burnout and compassion fatigue. While we welcome the first ever COVID vaccines, it is likely that it will be well into spring of 2021 before we can safely say that the pandemic is under control. This stark fact underscores the importance of all members of our community adhering to requirements for masks, socially distancing and avoiding community or family gatherings that may place you at risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19.

The pandemic has amplified the racial and ethnic health care inequities that over the years have been rooted in systemic racism. As a people, as physicians, as health care professionals, we oppose racist ideas and behaviors and stand as advocates for racial justice, promoting open dialogue and active educational policies. We have consistently seen an over-representation of Black, Hispanic and Native American patients who suffer and die from COVID-19. This health inequity spans the age groups as we see Hispanic and Black children diagnosed and hospitalized at rates that far exceed those of White children.

Embracing a comprehensive approach to create and sustain a diverse and culturally responsive workforce that works toward eliminating health inequities is our mission. We have expanded our leadership within the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with our associate dean, Dr. Tyler Smith, and the addition of an assistant dean, Doris Agwu. We have engaged Professor Mikah Thompson, a critical-race scholar who has been instrumental in launching our first ever anti-racism curriculum. Dr. Diana Dark, associate dean in the Office of Learning Environment, has worked to assure that we meet the students’ educational needs within a culture of care, inclusiveness and belonging. Dr. Dark leads the Expect Respect Committee, working to reduce mistreatment at all levels. She has introduced the student ombudsperson, and is developing a faculty professionalism statement. Dr. Liset Olarte has created the Latinos in Medicine physician group to mentor our Latinx students. Dr. Melissa Lewis, a member of the Cherokee nation, will advance our recruitment of tribal students, and we hope to add curricular content she has developed that addresses the history of and solutions to health inequities that continue to affect indigenous peoples in our society.

We proudly will expand our campus to St. Joseph, Missouri, in affiliation with Mosaic Health System to recruit, prepare and encourage a workforce that will address the shortage of providers in rural areas. This effort, backed by an award of $7 million issued by HRSA, supports our commitment to train those who will focus on rural health care. The first student cohort begins in January, and all curriculum will be delivered where they will live and train. With leadership from Drs. Steve Waldman, Davin Turner and Kristen Kleffner in collaboration with support from our senior associate dean of curriculum, Dr. Nurry Pirani, we are confident that our pre-clinical curriculum will be seamlessly delivered on both the Health Sciences District and the St. Joseph campuses. Since the onset of the pandemic, Drs. Mike Wacker and Darla McCarthy and all of our faculty have been instrumental in ensuring that our students receive this content using a virtual format that is inclusive of what they require in the biomedical sciences.  The St. Joseph campus will maintain the docent system and the early introduction of clinical experience for these students.  As these students advance to their clinical curriculum, we look forward to their engagement with Mosaic physician leaders to guide them, similar to the expertise provided by faculty at our anchoring partners: TMC, Children’s Mercy, St. Luke’s, the Center for Behavioral Medicine, Research Medical Center and the VA in Kansas City.

We celebrate the growth of research fueled by the talents of Drs. Jannette Berkley-Patton, Peter Koulen, Gary Sutkin, Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Jared Bruce and Nihar Nayak. They along with many others have allowed us to more than double the amount of awards we’ve received in the last 5 years. We recognized this past month distinguished faculty and celebrated the promotion of 73.  Thank you to the work of Dr. Christine Sullivan, associate dean of professional development, and her committee, who selected the awardees after a SOM-wide competition. Those honored included Dr. Molly Uhlenhake for her contributions to Excellence in Diversity and Health Equity in Medicine, Dr. Gary Sutkin for Excellence in Medical Education and Research, Drs. Fariha Shafi and Peter Koulen for Excellence in Mentorship, Drs. Emily Hillman and Darla McCarthy for Excellence in Teaching, and Dr. John Wang for Excellence in Research. University awards were presented to Dr. Jennifer Quaintance for Excellence in Teaching and to Dr. Peter Koulen, who received the Trustees Faculty Fellow Award.

At this moment in time, I ask that each one of you know that you make a difference in people’s lives. The road ahead will continue to be challenging. Our students are our future health care leaders, and it is our privilege as the faculty and staff at UMKC SOM, to be part of that future. I believe we are in good hands.

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

 

Stuart Chen, early faculty member and docent, remembered

Longtime School of Medicine faculty member Stuart Chen, M.D., Ph.D., died Oct. 17, 2020, at age 87.

Upon his passing, Dean Mary Anne Jackson wrote the following:

Dr. Chen completed his Internal Medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Minnesota. He then spent eight years at the West Virginia University School of Medicine prior to joining the School of Medicine faculty in 1977. As an early SOM Docent on the Gold 6 Unit and a Professor of Medicine, he joined Dr. E. Grey Dimond leading a large contingent of UMKC School of Medicine students and faculty on a trip to China in 1980. During his time as a Gold unit docent, he led 45 of our graduates from years 3 through 6.

Dr. Chen left the SOM and Truman Medical Centers for a three-year stent between 2001 and 2004 working as a gastroenterology consultant for the Rockwood Clinic in Spokane, Washington, before returning to UMKC and TMC. He continued this work until just recently when the COVID pandemic struck. Over the years, he has been involved in the education and training of countless students, residents, GI fellows and faculty. He was a dedicated medical staff member at Truman Medical Centers for more than 40 years, covering two tours of duty in the section of Gastroenterology Department of Medicine. Dr. Chen was a dedicated physician but more importantly, a gracious colleague who will be greatly missed by all of us.

Dean Richardson Noback, who worked together with Dr. Chen after his arrival on the faculty in 1977,  stated that “he brought dignity and strength with the experience of both the medical and research degrees to his roles in the School of Medicine. He was always attentive, courteous, gracious, strong, and measured in his interactions with patients, house staff, students, and others.”

Our sympathies are extended to his family, friends and all of the staff and faculty at Truman Medical Centers, within our School of Medicine and to his community of family and friends. His wife, Yeh-Jung Lee Chen, preceded him in death in 2018 and their only child, Jennifer Chen Tyler, a beloved producer at KCUR and columnist with the Pitch, died in 2019, leaving behind her husband, Erik Tyler, and a young daughter.

Dr. Chen’s obituary is available here.

Vigilance required in the pandemic

As COVID-19 cases surge in the Midwest and across the country, UMKC and the School of Medicine are re-emphasizing the precautions that have kept the cases on campus relatively low and under control. Here are some resources you and your students may find helpful.

The university has been transparent in reporting aggregated data and individual reports on all known cases on campus; this information is updated daily. From mid-August through Oct. 27, there were 158 cases across the UMKC campuses, of which 28 were still active. In all cases, the students or staff members were quarantined, and contact tracing identified and notified others who needed to quarantine. Of all these cases, nine were reported from School of Medicine locations and the Hospital Hill Apartments.

As part of campus COVID-19 resources, UMKC has produced a series of informational videos, including several involving first-year medical students. Our medical students’ awareness of UMKC policies and strict observance of them have been vital to stemming the pandemic, and vigilance will be needed as cold weather arrives.

It’s all part of the School of Medicine’s commitment to keeping students, faculty and staff safe while continuing to provide excellent classroom and clinical experiences.

Thanks to you and your students for your diligence.

Alumni Focus: David Glover, M.D., Class of 1978

By David John, M.D. ’77

I recently enjoyed a very pleasant evening with Dr. David Glover. I had asked him if I could drive to Warrensburg to hear about his career in medicine after graduating from our school in 1978. On July 14, I arrived at the Glover home about 5:30. I was able to spend about 15 minutes with his wife, Jan, before David and I headed out for a socially distanced dinner at his golf club.

Jan and David Glover

I know this is about David but, first, Jan Glover is amazing. She was warm and welcoming and obviously enjoyed telling me about her satisfaction in putting her career on hold to support David and raise four boys in that very house. When she was free to do so, she resumed teaching theater and the arts at the University of Central Missouri until her recent retirement.

In one of our few serious moments, David was later to tell me that without Jan he could not have had the successful career and rich home life he is so grateful for these past 45 years. But now, back to Dave Glover.

Dave and I spent maybe three hours over dinner. He told me that, after finishing his family practice residency at Baptist Medical Center in Kansas City, he and Jan settled down in Warrensburg. They were looking for a small town in which to raise a family, not too far from what a big city offers, and one that was a college town, where Jan could teach. All these years later, Dave still feels they made a fortunate choice.

Their four boys were all very athletic, and Dave became their high school’s team physician. Later, he was asked to be the team physician for the University of Central Missouri Jennys and Mules. Dave found a lot of satisfaction in this role and, realizing he needed more in-depth training, became a charter member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM).

In that role, Dave became increasingly dissatisfied with the athletic physical exam requirements for the high school. They fit on a 3×5 card; not only was the exam superficial, but it didn’t even require that it be performed by a physician. Dave communicated with the appropriate department within the Missouri State High School Athletic Association, leading to a spot on its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. This led to AMSSM involvement with Dave becoming the liaison between that organization and the National Federation of State High School Associations. His position on the committee also led to a connection with Dr. Barry Maron, a renowned expert on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Eventually, Dave flew to Minnesota to meet Dr. Maron, a template for a thorough athletic physical in hand. David Glover, M.D., became first author of the 1998 JAMA article addressing the need for improved standards in the medical evaluation of high school athletes (JAMA, 279(22): 1817-1819, 1998).

Dave’s article made headlines. Over time, he spoke to virtually every major U.S. newspaper. A follow-up study was published in the American Journal of Cardiology (American Journal of Cardiology 2007; 100: 1709-1712).

More recently, Dave found an economical way to incorporate a screening EKG into his athletic physical. He found that, after they had been cleared to play pre-season, five of his athletes had cardiac conditions that put them at risk for sudden cardiac death, identified only by EKG. That led to two diagnoses of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and three diagnoses of aberrant cardiac conduction. The pre-participation physical is now a common setting to initially identify persons with HCM, and an EKG has become a permanent part of Dave’s athlete evaluation. Dave plans on finding the time to publish this data soon.

All the while Dave was making a significant contribution to the health and safety of young American athletes, he also was delivering babies, keeping long office hours and spending his free time with Jan and their sons. In the mix, he found time for a yearly week with a medical mission Jamaica. Often his sons or students would accompany him.

Board certified in family practice, later with the addition of certification in sports medicine, Dave also has been very involved in the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, including serving as its 1992-1993 president, as well as in the AMA, MMA and multiple sports medicine organizations. His C.V. lists multiple lectures and 10 publications, five as first author.

During our last hour together, Dave’s son Drew joined us. He was the one son who also went into medicine and also graduated from our school. He, too, trained in family practice with a fellowship in sports medicine. It was Drew who told me his father was inducted into the University of Central Missouri Hall of Fame after receiving two Distinguished Service awards. And, like his Mom and Dad, Drew made a decision to settle down in Warrensburg and to practice with his father. Father and son supervise the Student Health Center at Central Missouri, as well.

Dave told me that evening that after Drew joined him, practicing medicine became more enjoyable again. He now plans to delay his retirement as long as feasible. He, long ago, stopped delivering babies and, more recently, cut to four days a week in the office. For Dave, life is good.

As I sat there, listening, I deeply appreciated Dave’s story, one that described a very rich, very rewarding life. A career that started in 1972, as a Year 1 student at our School of Medicine. I know that you, as an alum reading this, also have an important story to share, one that your fellow alumni will read about and smile.

I’m an alum. Class of ’77. And I am, right now, smiling.

David John, M.D. ’77
Assistant Professor, Gold 1 Docent
Associate Dean of Alumni and Community Engagement

 

A message from Dean Jackson on coping with the pandemic

I previously shared with you that all of the staff and faculty have worked tirelessly since the Jan. 22 onset of the pandemic in the United States to maintain a thriving medical school environment. Like those at other medical schools across the country, our students were affected by stay-at-home orders in our community that triggered us on March 11 to quickly move to an online biomedical science curriculum and shift our teaching of clinical medicine to virtual clinical encounters. I am happy to say that all of our students now have re-entered the health care environment to continue their clinical phase of training. We plan to welcome our Year 1 students to campus and our Year 3 students for their virtual White Coat Ceremony in just a few weeks. These exciting events are occurring as we address increasing challenges—namely, a post July 4th weekend uptick in COVID cases here in Kansas City.

Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID are again on the rise and we, like most across the country, have noted a rise in cases in younger people. Addressing the uptick of COVID cases in our communities and within the state of Missouri, requires us to ensure everyone is committed to masking and social distancing. Limiting viral transmission, improving treatment efficacy, addressing health care capacity and bolstering economic health of our communities all require specific interventions. We still have gaps in resources that we must address to achieve robust COVID testing capacity, speed testing turnaround time, ramp up contact tracing and continue to address PPE shortages.

Our current focus includes addressing the issues in children who have been out of school during the pandemic. Two public schools districts in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, recently announced they will be online for fall. These districts serve nearly 40,000 children in nearly 50 elementary schools and 20 middle and high schools, and most of their students are Hispanic or Black. In these districts, resources to provide at-home learning are fewer and COVID has produced a disproportionate impact on their families.

Children, particularly those under age 10, remain at lower risk to acquire and transmit COVID infection, have mild disease compared with adults and are unlikely to be the source of case clusters. This is critically important as we work to envision a safe path for students to return to in-person school. Dr. Rachel Orscheln, our pediatric infectious diseases colleague from Washington University, and UMKC pediatric infectious diseases faculty Drs. Jennifer Schuster and Jennifer Goldman from Children’s Mercy have worked on guidelines to outline how we may safety get children back to in-person school, and we still have hope that schools will open.

Further, as we navigate the “new normal,” we find hope in the knowledge that of the 26 COVID vaccines that are in human trials, four are progressing to Phase 3 efficacy trials. Vaccines from Pfizer, BioNtech, Moderna and AstraZeneca are leading the way and ready to recruit adult volunteers in the next few weeks. In Kansas City, the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford Phase III study will be led by Dr. Barbara Pahud, research director of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy, along with Dr. Mario Castro, a 1988 UMKC School of Medicine alumnus who is vice chair of clinical and translational research at Kansas University Medical Center. Our colleagues at Washington University will be recruiting for that same vaccine trial in St. Louis. Federal funding is expected to help at least five vaccines move to licensure by December.

As we respond to the pandemic challenges, we also acknowledge George Floyd’s killing while in police custody. At this School of Medicine, we are working for change to confront structural racism in our society. We commit to promote racial justice in our community, to address health inequity and to transform our medical school curriculum so our students and faculty are educated about the history of and expressions of racism in medicine. Changes are already in progress based on the voices of our students, staff and faculty. We have with great intent recruited and increased diversity in our Year 1 and 2 docents. We are focused on increasing our role in the community to address health inequity. And we are collaborating with Professor Mikah Thompson in the UMKC School of Law to teach critical race theory and to add curricular content throughout the six years. More changes are to come, but by using activism and advocacy, knowledge, love, grace and compassion, we believe we can change the course of humankind.

As always, we thank you for your continued support of the school, its vital mission, and our students, faculty and staff.

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

Training the next sideline stars

Margaret Gibson, an avid skier, is director of one of the School of Medicine’s sports medicine fellowships.

Sports medicine physicians and surgeons usually complete a one-year fellowship, and the UMKC School of Medicine has two top-flight fellowships. The programs’ faculty include team physicians for UMKC Athletics and the Kansas City Chiefs, and the fellows get experience with those teams and at Truman Medical Centers, as well as the school’s other affiliate hospitals.

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery takes one fellow each year. The program is led by Jon E. Browne, clinical associate professor, who also led the Chiefs’ orthopaedic team for 23 years, through the 2011 season. The program, endorsed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, dates to 1990, making it one of the first of its kind.

“The fellowship has excellent relationships with our teams and hospitals,” Browne said, adding that UMKC Athletics’ move to Division 1 status greatly increased the requirements for sports physicians and surgeons — and the opportunities for UMKC faculty and fellows.

The Department of Community and Family Medicine takes two physicians a year for its fellowship, which started in 2008 and is led by Margaret Gibson, associate professor of community and family medicine. Gibson, an avid skier who has served several U.S. teams in international competitions, said past fellows had a variety of private practices and included team physicians with the Chiefs, the University of Kansas, Louisville University and the University of Central Missouri.

“We keep up with the latest developments in sports medicine,” Gibson said, “and working with our fellows and UMKC’s teams makes me keep learning, too. It’s a good feeling knowing you’ve helped train the physicians who are caring for athletes at all levels.”

An update for alumni

In these challenging times, the School of Medicine endeavors to keep students, faculty and staff both safe and informed, while continuing to pursue our mission of education, research and service. I also want to keep you, my fellow alumni, up to date. Here are some key recent developments:

— On March 12, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, in consultation with Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer and our own Dr. Erica Carney, the Emergency Medical Services Medical Director, issued a state of emergency proclamation, and on March 16 issued a stay-at-home order. Other surrounding counties and municipalities followed suit. Gov. Kelly from the state of Kansas also issued a state of emergency proclamation on March 12, followed by a statewide stay-at-home order to run from March 30 through at least April 19.

— As a result, the School of Medicine building is closed except for “essential activities.” In practical terms, that means nearly all staff are working from home, and students cannot use their docent offices or other school space for study. Exceptions have been made for faculty researchers who must access the building for critical procedures or equipment management, and for our clinical faculty.

— We have moved to online curriculum for our biomedical science courses. We also are offering online clinical options as our students have moved out of the health care environments as part of efforts to limit personnel and conserve PPE. We join the vast majority of medical schools across the United States who are adding new classes on pandemics, telemedicine and intensive care of patients.

In addition, the American Association of Medical Colleges is curating a new, free and open resource that allows sharing of innovative educational approaches during the pandemic. The resource is called the iCollaborative Collection. Two of our humanities courses (Medicine and Literature: Pandemics, Plagues, and People — What Physicians In Training Think, and Medicine and the Visual Arts – Pandemics, Plagues, and People — What The Visual Arts Can Teach Us) have been accepted to the Collective. This national inclusion in an AAMC effort is just one more example of where we are making a difference during the pandemic.

Other examples include exceptional work and effort by our faculty that have ensured a smooth transition to online learning to keep all of our students on the path to graduation. There has been a Herculean effort on the part of our staff to ensure excellent student support during this time, and we have instituted virtual class meetings. And our students who are out in the community are providing child care for HCW, sponsoring blood drives and developing an interprofessional effort to collect and distribute personal protective equipment that is necessary to ensure our front-line workers are protected.

— Many valued social and professional activities have been postponed or canceled, including the Alumni Reunion. But some others continued, in creative new ways, such as our successful virtual Match Day. And we will be moving our 7th Annual Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day to a virtual event.

— We welcome Dr. Tyler Smith as our new Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She is the first M.D. to fill this role and takes over for Nate Thomas, Ph.D., who was with SOM from February 2018 to March 2020. Dr. Smith joined the Children’s Mercy Department of Pediatrics in February 2018 and is the General Academic Pediatrics fellowship program director. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina SOM and completed pediatric residency at the University of Maryland Medical System in 2008. She then completed her M.P.H. and fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and SOM. Seh was recognized as a mentor of the year by Hampton University, where she completed her undergraduate work, and is on the National Medical Association Editorial Board. Dr. Smith is nationally known for her work in medical education, mentorship, diversity, health care disparities and physician wellness.

We are immensely grateful for your continued support as we endeavor to provide the best possible medical education, research efforts and patient care, under unusually trying circumstances. Please continue to stay in touch — and we will do likewise, as our situation continues to evolve.

Sincerely,

Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78, Interim Dean