Sirridge lecturer looks at how visual images bring health care into focus

The many forms of media — from movies to photographs and even YouTube videos — serve as an opening for analysis and discussion of individual experiences with illness and disability, said Therese Jones, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Jones served as the keynote speaker for the UMKC School of Medicine’s 2021 Sirridge Lecture in an online format on March 30.

Jones, who also is the director of the Colorado school’s Arts and Humanities in Healthcare Program, said these images offer an evocative illustration of health care issues ranging from access to care to life and even racism.

“These works can foster empathic responses, sharpen critical thinking and develop communication skills, especially in our work with health profession students,” Jones said. “Visual materials can serve as openings for our students to critique the culture of health care itself.”

She shared that 56 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 12 and 69 percent of teens from 13 to 18 years old use YouTube for educational reasons, including science topics. She also noted how images shared from cell phone photos and videos often play a crucial role in rallying social and political responses to confront issues and act as a catalyst for reform.

Jones also spoke about how many humanities programs in health professions schools share a common method of developing observational skills, critical thinking and empathy through student interaction with the visual arts from paintings and photography to visiting art galleries and museums. The School of Medicine provides similar opportunities in its humanities curriculum.

Jones explained a new thinking in academic medicine that focuses on art as an opportunity to unveil what is hidden in the images and recognizing what is unique or strange in what otherwise seems ordinary.

“The arts-based curriculum is designed to be a process, rather than an event in which learners move from the neutral position of looking to an implicated position of the witnessing,” Jones said. “They realize that seeing is more than description. That scene is filtered through their personal values and our cultural norms. And these inhibit nuanced, even contradictory observations.”

The goal, she explained, is to take participants from a sense of self-awareness to self-criticism, and teaching observation as a pathway to a more humane approach to health care.

A native Kansan who received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theater arts and English at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, Jones received a Ph.D. in English in Colorado before taking a postdoctoral fellowship in medical humanities in Ohio. She currently teaches health, humanities and disability studies at the University of Colorado schools of medicine and pharmacy, and in physical therapy and physician assistance programs among others.

The Sirridge Lecture is named for William T. Sirridge, M.D., and his wife, Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., two of the UMKC School of Medicine’s original docents who viewed the humanities as an essential part of students’ medical training.

School of Medicine’s 2020 humanities magazine available online

The 2020 issue the UMKC School of Medicine publication, Human Factor, is now available online. Human Factor celebrates the connection between art, humanities and the practice of medicine.

The publication showcases the creativity, imagination and talent of our students, alumni, residents, faculty and staff. All of the printed words and images featured in this publication make the important link between an appreciation of art and compassionate patient care — illustrating the significant role of medical humanities.

This year’s issue features poetry, short stories, photos, drawings and and other original artwork including the cover image created by fifth-year medical student Rachana Kombathula.

Watch for a call for submissions to the 2021 edition of the Human Factor early next next fall.

Students, residents and faculty invited to arts and medicine salon

Students and faculty take part in a salon on art and medicine led by School of Medicine faculty member Stuart Munro, M.D.

Students, residents and faculty from the UMKC and University of Kansas schools of medicine are invited to the final event in a series of salons on arts and medicine.

The event will take place from 4-6 p.m. on March 4 at Unity Temple on the Plaza. Led by Paul Rudy, DMA, the session, “Listen! Yes, Really Listen,” offers an experience of the impact sound and vibration has on our ability to really listen to each other.

For reservations, contact Jean Wolf at

The series of salons are a collaborative effort spearheaded by UMKC faculty members Stuart Munro, M.D., and Jennifer Martin, Ph.D., and Bradley Barth, M.D., at the KU medical school. It is funded by a grant from “Frontiers of Arts and Medicine.”

The overarching theme is “What If: The Healing of Art and Medical Humanities.” The events are open to art and medicine students, residents and faculty from both institutions to foster dialogue between disciplines.

The first salon was a new play at The Living Room Theatre called “DNR” that explored the implications of “Do Not Resuscitate.” The second featured an evening of films, hors d’oeuvres and a lively discussion of how medicine has impacted art in films. Others included “Sharing Your Stories,” led by poet laureate of Kansas Huscar Medina, and “Music in Medicine: How Music Adds Meaning to your Lives,” led by Dr. Stuart Munro and Dr. Jennifer Martin.

Thirty Million Words initiative founder presents annual Sirridge Lecture

Dana Suskind, M.D., presented the 2019 William and Marjorie Sirridge Lecture on Sept. 19.

One of the best things parents can do for their young children to help them succeed in life is to talk to them. A lot.

Dana Suskind, M.D., has spent much of the past nine years advocating for early childhood development by focusing on the importance of language and the power of parent-talk and interaction to build children’s brains. The 1992 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine discussed her career path at the 2019 William and Marjorie Sirridge Lecture on Thursday, Sept. 19, at the School of Medicine.

A professor of surgery and pediatrics at the University of Chicago and director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implantation, Suskind is founder and co-director of TMW (Thirty Million Words) Center for Early Learning + Public Health. The program offers evidence-based interventions to optimize brain development in children from birth to five years of age, particularly those born into poverty. It combines education, technology and behavioral strategies for parents and caregivers to enhance the verbal interactions with their children.

As a cochlear implant surgeon, Suskind realized vast differences in her patients after undergoing the implant. Some grew to talk and communicate well while others didn’t. The gap resulted not only in some children having a much smaller vocabulary, but also impacted their IQ and test scores in the third grade.

While cochlear implants brought sound to a child’s brain, Suskind found that something else was needed to make that sound have meaning.

“I came to realize that during their first three years, the power of language is the power to build a child’s brain,” she said.

Suskind pointed out that most of the organs in the human body are fully formed at birth. That’s not so with the brain, which doesn’t fully develop for many years after birth. She said the brain is particularly active and rapidly developing during the first three years, making it important for young children to grow up in a language-rich environment.

“At no other time in life will brain development be so robust and active,” Suskind said.

In 2014, she wrote Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain. The book describes her study of how children develop communication skills and how those who thrive live in households where they hear millions of spoken words. Her book reached the number one spot on Amazon’s best-seller’s list for parenting and family reference.

Following medical school, Suskind completed her residency at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and a fellowship at Washington University Children’s Hospital.

She has received many awards for her work including the Weizmann Women for Science Vision and Impact Award, the SENTAC Gray Humanitarian Award, the LENA Research Foundation Making a Difference Award, the 2018 Chairman’s Award from the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the John D. Arnold, M.D., Mentor Award for Sustained Excellence from the Pritzker School of Medicine.

The Sirridge Lecture is named for William T. Sirridge, M.D., and his wife, Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., two of the UMKC School of Medicine’s original docents. The Sirridges viewed the humanities as an essential part of students’ medical training. In 1992, they established the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics to merge the humanities with the science of medicine. Today, the school recognizes their dedication, compassion and advancement of patient care and medical education in Kansas City with the William and Marjorie Sirridge Lecture.

International Medicine Program

The Office of International Programs at the UMKC School of Medicine helps UMKC medical students explore opportunities to study abroad. It also helps facilitate learning opportunities with international schools that have agreements with the UMKC School of Medicine.

Contact the Office of International Programs at 816-235-5882, or drop by office M4-C03-D if you have questions.




Advisory Board


The Medical Humanities and Bioethics Advisory Board Committee was established as an interdisciplinary group to advise and coordinate various humanities activities. Members include both faculty and staff from the School of Medicine, the College of Arts and Sciences, other various UMKC departments, as well as community members. Meetings are held bi-monthly in the Humanities Conference Room, at UMKC’s School of Medicine.

Richard Butin, M.D.

Associate Professor, Years 3-6 Docent
Department(s) of Internal Medicine
UMKC School of Medicine, University Health - UMKC Health Sciences District
Butin, Richard
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Bibie Margareta Chronwall, M.Ed., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Director - Academic Affairs Yr 1 and 2
Department(s) of Basic Medical Science
Section: Nerosciences
UMKC School of Biological Sciences
Chronwall, Bibie Margareta
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Charles Donohoe, M.D.

Professor, Department Chair, Leadership
Department(s) of Neurology
University Health - Lakewood

Specialties and Research/Medical Interests

Neuroimaging, Neuroimmunology, Neurorehabilitation, Neurology

Donohoe, Charles
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William Everett, Ph.D.

Professor, Curators' Distinguished Professor of Musicology
Department(s) of Medical Humanities and Bioethics
Section: Sirridge Office
University of Missouri - Kansas City
Everett, William
329 - Grant Hall
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Nicole Fearing, M.D., FACS

Clinical Assistant Professor, Medical Director - Simulation
Department(s) of Graduate Health Professions in Medicine
Menorah Medical Center, UMKC School of Medicine
Fearing, Nicole
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Jane Greer, Ph.D.

Department(s) of English Language and Liturature,
UMKC College of Arts and Sciences
Greer, Jane
235-2764 x8
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David Hermanns, M.D., M.P.H.

Associate Professor, Years 3-6 Docent
Department(s) of Internal Medicine
Saint Luke's Hospital

Specialties and Research/Medical Interests

Internal Medicine

Hermanns, David
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Jennifer Kay Martin, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor, Hall Family Foundation Professor of Theatre, Emerita
Department(s) of Medical Humanities and Bioethics, SurgiLab
Section: Sirridge Office
UMKC School of Medicine Martin, Jennifer
Martin, Jennifer Kay
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Agostino Molteni, M.D., Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor, Professor - Pathology and Pharmacology, Director of Student Research, Professor Emeritus - Northwestern University
Department(s) of Pathology
UMKC School of Medicine Molteni, Agostino

Specialties and Research/Medical Interests

Cell Biology, Emergency Medicine, Ophthalmology, Orthopaedic Surgery, Pathology, Cardiology

Molteni, Agostino
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Carol Stanford, M.D.

Associate Professor, Years 3-6 Docent
Department(s) of Internal Medicine
UMKC School of Medicine, University Health - UMKC Health Sciences District Stanford, Carol
Stanford, Carol
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Nancy Tilson-Mallett, M.D.

Assistant Professor
Department(s) of Internal Medicine
University Health - UMKC Health Sciences District
Tilson-Mallett, Nancy
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F. Wayne Vaught, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Dean - College of Arts & Sciences
Department(s) of Medical Humanities and Bioethics
Section: Sirridge Office
UMKC College of Arts and Sciences, UMKC School of Medicine
Vaught, F. Wayne
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Curriculum & Courses

The Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics is responsible for oversight and management of the following courses:

  • Fundamentals of Practice (MED 9110 I, II, III, IV)
  • Docent Team Experience I, II, III, & IV
  • Hospital Team Experience (MED 9221)
  • History of Medicine (MED 9310)
  • Patient, Physician and Society I & II (MED 9482 and 9484)
  • Behavioral Science (MED 9472)
  • Medical Terminology (MED 9115)
  • Medical Humanities Courses
    • Medicine and Literature
    • Medicine and Music
    • Medicine, Law and Bioethics
    • Medicine and Film
    • Medicine and Body Image
    • Medicine, War and the Arts
    • Medicine and the Visual Arts

The Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics is also responsible for oversight and support of:

  • The Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics
  • The International Medicine and Global Health Program
  • The Human Factor, a publication devoted to the medical humanities
  • The Sirridge Lectureship
  • The Noback Burton Lectureship

The Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics is also responsible for the oversight and support of a variety of student organizations and service learning activities including:

  • Gold Humanism Honor Society
  • The Osler Society of Greater Kansas City
  • The Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities Healing Arts Contest
  • The Medical Humanities Interest Group
  • The Global Health Interest Group



Eileen Amari Vaught, PhD, RN, APN
Patient, Physician and Society

Brian Carter, MD
Year 1 & 2 Docent
Course Director: Medicine & Literature and Medicine, Law & Bioethics

David John, MD
Course Director: Medicine and Literature

William Ritter, MD
Docent Year 1
Course Director: Medicine and the Visual Arts

Nancy Tilson-Mallett, MD
Course Director: Medicine and the Visual Arts

Gary Boxer, MD
Course Director: Medicine and Philosophy

Trenton Myers, MD
Course Director: Medicine and Music

John Foxworth, PharmD
Patient, Physician and Society

Karen Johnson, MD
Docent Year 2

Jared Keeler, MD
Docent Year 1

Amgad Masoud, MD
Docent Year 2

Jennifer McBride, MD
Clinical Practice of Medicine

Jessica Neuhart, MD
Docent Year 1

Leslie McNolty PhD
Course Director for History of Medicine

Gazala Parvin, MD
Docent Year 1

Valerie Radar, MD
Docent Year 1

Alie Scholes, MD
Docent Year 1

Fariha Shafi, MD
Docent Year 2

Susan Storm, MD
Docent Year 1

Rose Zwerenz, MD
Docent Year 1  and 2

News & Events

Sirridge Medical Humanities Lectureship

The Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics presents the annual Sirridge Medical  Humanities Lectureship. The next lecture will be held in March, 2022.

Noback Burton Lectureship


Human Factor Submissions

The Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics and the Medical Humanities Interest Group are accepting submissions for the Human Factor. UMKC Health Science’s students with the best piece of prose, poetry, photography or short story will be published in the 2023 Human Factor. To be considered, students must send a copy of their work to