Financial Wellness News

Meet Our Financial Wellness Counselor!

Kristian Brennon joins the School of Medicine as the Financial Wellness Counselor. She holds a degree in Finance and is designated as an Accredited Financial Counselor professional by the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education. She is passionate about personal finance and is excited to empower students to create positive financial habits.

Some fun facts about Kristian: She loves reading, crafting, and being outdoors! She also has her own personal finance blog that you can check out for more financial literacy topics here.

Stop by the 4th Floor Student Affairs Suite to say hello to Kristian!

What can you expect from Financial Wellness?

  • Meet 1:1 with Kristian to review your individual financial goals, build a budget, discuss a financial concern, financial aid status, and more!
  • Financial topics relevant to your year of medical school presented to you via class meetings or on-demand through Canvas.
  • Weekly financial wellness tips, resources, and scholarship information from the In the Know announcements.
  • Online tools such as our Financial Wellness Resource Center and AAMC Financial Wellness money management dashboard
  • Occasional events and giveaways

How to get in touch:

Simply email Kristian to set up a 1:1 Financial Wellness Check-in or ask your financial questions!

Her contact information is:

Kristian Brennon, AFC®

Financial Wellness Counselor

2411 Holmes St. MA-205A | Kansas City, MO 64108

P: 816-235-1807 | E:



Did you apply for FREE MONEY?

Students received an email last week from Financial Aid detailing information about the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. This is free emergency grant money as a result of the difficult economic times we are currently experiencing due to COVID-19. If awarded, you can have financial aid apply the funds to your bill, or have the funds sent straight to your bank account to cover personal expenses.  More information and eligibility requirements are below.

We encourage you to complete this short application as soon as possible as the funding pool will eventually run out.


The signing of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 has provided additional emergency financial aid grant funding to UMKC called the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) III.  This grant may be used to assist students through the COVID-19 global pandemic that have exceptional needs related to educational costs, food, housing, health care (including mental care) or childcare. 

Eligibility Requirements

  • Enrolled in the Spring 2021 term, Summer 2021 term, or Fall 2021 Term
  • Priority to students with financial need
  • Complete a Federal HEERF III Emergency Grant application

Award Amount

Grant amounts will be determined based upon a student’s need as calculated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you did not complete a FAFSA your need eligibility will be determined based on your grant application.

Disbursement Options

You will have the option on the grant application to indicate if you want the emergency grant to help pay your educational costs on your bill first. If this option is selected, the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office will apply the grant to your bill. If this option is not selected, the funds will be sent directly to you by check or direct deposit


Use the following link to submit your application

Applications will be reviewed and awards will be distributed in the order they are received until funding is depleted. We encourage students to apply as soon as possible.

Much to celebrate — and much to look forward to

The UMKC School of Medicine for 50 years has set the standards for patient care, research, service and education while assuring a strong foundation for the future of medicine.

As we celebrate our golden anniversary, we want to highlight the contributions of our first leaders, Drs. E. Grey Dimond, Richardson K. Noback and Harry Jonas; recognize our curricular innovation and growth of our research enterprise; highlight the expansion of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; and spotlight our outstanding alums.

We are grateful for our exceptional clinical partners at Truman Medical Centers, St. Luke’s Health System, Children’s Mercy Kansas City, the Center for Behavioral Health, the VA hospital system and Research Medical Center. They have been instrumental in developing the clinical expertise of our students. And we welcome our newest partner, Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, Missouri, joining our School of Medicine as the site of our rural health care initiative.

Over the next 12 months, we will feature moments of our medical school through the decades, and highlight students, faculty and alums across the country.

I ask each of you to send us an email sharing your most memorable moments. And mark your calendar for our Black Tie Dinner on June 4, 2022, where we will formally gather to reminisce with one another as we celebrate our 50 years of growth and achievement, and where we will outline our blueprint for the next 50 years.

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

Family Medicine and Obstetrics

Myth: Family Medicine only entails clinic.

Fact: Family Medicine has a variety of opportunities to work with different patient populations which includes Geriatrics, Palliative, Sports Medicine, Obstetrics, and much more!

Join us on Tuesday, May 4th at 5:30 via zoom as we learn more about opportunities in Family Medicine to practice Obstetrics from Dr. Slack, a Family Medicine physician at Lakewood.


Humming along in St. Joseph

Members of the first class of first-year medical students at the UMKC School of Medicine’s new St. Joseph campus are studying hard and preparing to meet patients in April. The campus aims to provide more physicians for underserved rural areas in Missouri.

The students, who all live in St. Joseph, attend classes at the school’s area within the Mosaic Medical Center. Each has a work station at the school, and a video-equipped classroom allows them to see, hear and participate in lecture classes simultaneously with students at the Health Sciences District campus.

Each year, the St. Joseph campus will add another class of 20 students till there’s a full complement for the four-year M.D. only program.

Look for a full report on the new campus in the next issue of UMKC Medicine, coming to you in May.

A year of challenges met, with more ahead

One year after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, UMKC School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., says we are getting closer to returning to normal.

On March 11, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was officially declared by the World Health Organization, and we have since watched the unremitting spread of SARS CoV-2 across the world, with more than 29 million cases in the US and more than 500,000 who have lost their lives. Beyond the human toll, widespread and extensive consequences impacted a substantial part of the population in terms of lost jobs, depleted bank accounts, lost housing, struggles to know how we best educate our children and impacts on our physical and mental health. And we have witnessed the disproportionate toll on Blacks, Hispanic and Native Americans. Across our country, we were forced to change not only the way we navigated our daily life but within the School of Medicine, we had to confront how we responded to support our students.

As the pandemic unfolded, we were forced to make changes, to adapt and quickly evolve like we’d never done before in our 50-year history. And on May 18, 2020, just three short months into the pandemic, we celebrated the graduation of the class of 2020. The rapid changes we were forced to make in our curricular plans as we rose to the challenge of the pandemic, demonstrated flexibility and resilience as we ensured our students stayed on path to graduation. And our students responded with perseverance, determination, and an intense desire to continue to contribute meaningfully within the healthcare environment, learning virtually, participating in telemedicine and being part of the COVID-19 response team.

We are proud of the curricular innovation we brought to the meet the student needs and to ensure teaching, supervision, assessment, and student advancement remained top of our focus. We’ve also engaged with a mission and vision to meet the promise we made in May, 2020 to work toward social justice and to dismantle racism that has resulted in the cumulative effects of inequity in the learning environment. By listening to the voices of our students, staff and faculty and taking action, we ensured we stay true to our promise to transform our curriculum, to stay true to our mission and vision and that our structure, and function allowed all of our students to perform to the best of their ability.

But we know these curricular disruptions and lost opportunities to develop the collaborative relationships prevented them from fine tuning their skill set as we paused clinical rotations at the onset of the pandemic—resuming them after our class of 2020 had departed for their residencies. They lost the opportunity to build collegial relationships as their electives in their area of focus were cancelled, and they were unable to travel to present their research at national conferences—all of the final touches on their educational journey that they felt would allow them to be prepared for residencies.

Our students who graduated in 2020 were the first ever to finish their medical school journey with virtual electives, to have an entirely virtual ceremony to celebrate their match day and an entirely virtual ceremony to celebrate their graduation. We sent them off to residency programs in an era of uncertainty as we watched the historic spread of COVID-19 across our country and we brought them forward to the front lines of care. Each of our students who graduated in 2020 has a personal story of how the pandemic impacted them as they completed their education here at UMKC SOM.

We are now at a point that we have an extraordinary database and more than 100,000 peer reviewed publications in just one year that best informs how we diagnose, treat, and prevent COVID-19. We are at a point in the pandemic that we are encouraged –by the sustained decrease in cases, hospitalizations and test positivity in our community and as we welcome the advent of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines. We are moving ever so much closer to our goal of herd immunity.  Our commitment and ability to provide exceptional medical education that transforms and improves the health and well-being of the students and patients we serve has been our North Star throughout the pandemic—and the lessons we’ve learned will inform us for years to come.


A hundred momentous destinations

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of Match Day, even when all the action is online. The roughly 100 graduates and graduates-to-be of the UMKC School of Medicine found out by email, just after 11 a.m. Friday, where they will spend the next stage of their medical careers.

Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., addressed students, their families, faculty and friends with a video message. She congratulated the UMKC Class of 2021 for its hard work the past six years and especially during the past challenging year of COVID-19 shutdowns and other disruptions.

“This ceremony, which you know is a rite of passage for medical students across the country, is even more significant this year,” Jackson said. “I know the uncertainty of the pandemic has created disruptions for you on your medical school journey, from a pause in clinical rotations at the beginning, the elimination of away electives, the shortages of PPE that created changes in how we cared patients, and a move to virtual formats for didactic lectures, and everything from residency interviews to our most special ceremonies including this one.”

Jackson said the docents, faculty and staff were proud of the Class of 2021 and appreciated its members’ focus, flexibility and resilience.

“As you scatter across the country, I know you will continue to make us proud by demonstrating the knowledge, kindness, empathy, compassion and professionalism you’ve learned here,” Jackson said.

As they did a year ago, students had to celebrate individually, but many did so at home with friends and family.

2021 UMKC School of Medicine Match List

Half of the UMKC class will be headed to a primary care residency in internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, or pediatrics. That exceeds the national average and is in line with the school’s mission to provide primary care for the Kansas City area, Missouri and the rest of the Midwest.

The students won assignments in 22 states, from California to New York and Washington state to Florida. Missouri had 26 of the placements, followed by 10 in Texas, eight in Florida, six each in Kansas and Illinois, five in California and four each in Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York and Ohio.

And, as usual, some are headed to the top names in medicine, including three to Mayo and two to the Cleveland Clinic. Twenty-four will stay in the Kansas City area, most of them at UMKC and its affiliate hospitals.

Internal medicine was the top category with 32 placements, followed by 10 in family medicine, nine in various types of surgery, eight in pediatrics or medicine-pediatrics, seven in emergency medicine and six in psychiatry.

Watch the video from the event

Art and Science Collaborate for Safer Surgeries

The Surgical Innovations Lab at the UMKC School of Medicine, led by Gary Sutkin, M.D., was formed in 2016 to better understand how patient safety may be threatened in the operating room and how to make surgery safer. It approaches this mission with an inter-disciplinary team through a multitude of methodologies, including biomedical engineering, ethnography and now art.

A member of Sutkin’s team is Margaret Brommelsiek, Ph.D., associate research professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies and the School of Medicine. Together, they are collaborating on an art and medicine project called Visual Excavation: Reconstructing Scientific Data into Visual Artifacts.

It was designed to extend the lab’s research data through visualization in the form of artist books. Brommelsiek, who is also a practicing artist, developed the images through mining data contained in the lab’s research protocols relating to quality and safety in the operating room, team communication and interprofessional surgical team interactions.

The importance of the artwork is being recognized by the artistic community as a whole. Brommelsiek and Sutkin have created five books consisting of the pieces accompanied with poems written by Sutkin and Brommelsiek. Those books are now included in the library of the National Museum of Women in Art in Washington, D.C. The institution is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. The library’s collection includes 1,000 unique books and limited editions created by women artists in a variety of formats.

“It’s really an honor to be included in their collection and how artists and art can engage in science,” said Brommelsiek. “Hopefully, these books will inspire other future artists to collaborate in fields outside of the arts.”

By going beyond charts and graphs, Brommelsiek’s art provides a visual narrative documenting the lived experiences of the researchers. Conducting ethnographic studies, her research examines the dynamics within the operating room environment, using a humanities-informed lens and identifying parallels between medicine and art. Her finished pieces, which she describes as abstract, use collage as the primary medium to create an essence of the experiences of research processes.

“Margaret’s art and background have really opened up a window in my mind where I view my research differently and even surgery itself,” said Sutkin, who also serves as associate dean of women’s health at the School of Medicine.

According to Sutkin, this is the lab’s first foray into true art incorporation. “We’ve been making theoretical models and try to make them visual, but this is a new direction for us.”

Much of Sutkin’s research focuses on the use of a trocar, an intimidating surgical instrument used during bladder surgeries where the wrong amount of pressure can lead to dire consequences in female patients. These procedures often require working without visual cues. Through the lab, Sutkin has been able to create a surgical model that mirrors this procedure by mapping pressure used during trocar insertion. An important part of this research was having access to a cadaver.

“I wanted to really capture Dr. Sutkin’s visceral experience of the cadaver,” said Brommelsiek. “The textures, the way the surgeon’s hands were crucial, as well as the instrument itself, even the mesh that is used in the surgeries. It’s not literal, but the essence is captured in the imagery.”

This project took shape when they received funding through the KU Medical Center Frontiers Trailblazer Awards. The program provides financial support to assist with targeted research in a variety of areas of health care.

We thought it would be interesting to take three aspects of our research that had differing perspectives and extend the research data to a visual form,” said Brommelsiek. “How could we visually see the output of the research process and find meaning through a visual lens of expression?”

The backbone of their creative process is conversations around science, but also other fields of shared interest including art, philosophy, literature, films and, of course, health care. It is through this ongoing dialogue that several research protocols have emerged.

“We’ll be discussing some of the science in our research but we’ll also touch on film, visual art or novels that have a relationship to what we’re doing,” said Brommelsiek. “It all feeds into our creative process and how our research is developed.”

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.