The Collective – Affiliate Updates

We are excited to announce that Truman Medical Centers/University Health has become University Health! The name University Health reflects our commitment to patient care and highlights our role as an academic medical center and as the primary teaching hospital of the UMKC Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Dentistry. University Health has a long, proud history as Kansas City’s essential hospital. Our team remains dedicated to providing comprehensive care to patients, whether those patients have top-notch health insurance or no insurance at all. Our name has changed but our mission remains the same. Our dedication to this mission has helped us attain the recognitions described below and will drive us to accomplish even greater things going forward.

The Lown Institute Hospitals Index ranked University Health first in the state of Missouri, and 11th in the nation out of 3,200 hospitals examined. The Lown Institute Hospitals Index is the first national ranking to examine a hospital’s racial inclusivity with regard to its patients. The Institute created their rankings by assessing how well the demographics of a hospital’s Medicare patients matched the demographics of the hospital’s surrounding communities.

University Health’s workforce and diversity and inclusion initiatives placed us in the top 20 of the most diverse workplaces in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine. Other hospitals in the top 20 include the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, putting University Health in very good company. Forbes surveyed 50,000 Americans to pinpoint their employer’s dedication to diversity. The diversity ranking features the top 500 employers that received the most recommendations, had the most diverse boards and executive ranks, and the most proactive diversity and inclusion initiatives. 27 hospitals made the top 500 employers list. University Health ranked 18th for hospitals with an overall ranking of 155.

The Collective – STAHR Updates

The STAHR Ambassador Program is in full swing. We have transitioned back to in-person meetings and have already hosted our Kickoff Retreat and our first Workshop on Academic Support. Both events had more than 60 in attendance. In November, we successfully held our second workshop, which was centered on Mental Health and Wellness.

The STAHR Scholars Program has transitioned to providing our scholars with year-round support. In addition to the programming offered in the summer, we provide students with additional assistance as they aim to become the most competitive applicants for health professional school. We are currently supporting 34 students: 20 high school and 14 undergraduates. Our office assists with personal statement and resume review, interview prep, and resources for ACT and MCAT prep.

The Collective – UMKC DEI Updates


Drop in with the Office of DEI – As the Associate and Assistant Deans of DEI joined UMKC SOM during the pandemic, we recognize the need for the SOM community to have the opportunity to get to know us better including our plans for the Office of DEI. We plan to have regularly scheduled “drop ins” for people to stop by and say hello or to ask any questions. Please watch for more information about the dates, times and locations for these sessions at the Kansas City and St. Joseph campuses.


Anti-Racism and Cultural Bias Program – The program was formally incorporated into the School of Medicine curriculum with all medical students required to participate in the program prior to beginning clinical clerkships. Professor Mikah Thompson taught the first module entitled Cultural Self-Awareness/Cultural Sensibility during the 2020-2021 academic year. Remaining modules include Implicit Bias and Medicine, Privilege and White Fragility, The Social Construction of Race, Intersectionality, Microaggressions and Medicine, and Capstone. The Office of DEI is collaborating with the Office of Graduate Medical Education to expand the educational trainings about DEI to resident and fellowship trainees. More information coming in the future.


Critical Mass Gathering – The 16th Annual Critical Mass Gathering event was held on October 17-18, 2021 to support under-represented in medicine pre-medical and medical students as they traverse the continuum of a medical career. More than 100 participants attended the virtual event with seminars about financial literacy, specialty speed mentoring and networking, and discussion with the deans from the Kansas City medical schools. Chief Health Equity Officer from Humana Incorporated, J. Nwando Olayiwola, MD, MPH, provided the keynote address.

The Collective – Affiliate Institutions

Children’s Mercy Hospital


Virtual Equity and Diversity Education Sessions

  • Date: May 25th, 2021
    Topic: Immigrant and Refugee Families – Addressing Culturally Sensitive Strategies in a Healthcare Setting
    Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
  • Date: June 24th, 2021
    Topic: Unconscious Bias for Healthcare Professionals
    Time: 12:00 – 1 PM
  • Date: July 22nd, 2021
    Topic: Culture & Language: Engaging Families Through Health Literacy
    Time: 12:00 – 1 PM
  • Date: August 26th, 2021
    Topic: The Impact of Micro-Messages in the Workplace
    Time: 12:00 – 1 PM


Remembering Sister Corita Bussanmas
Sister Corita Bussanmas, co-founder of Operation Breakthrough (OB), passed away March 27, 2021 at the age of 87. A 50-year champion of children and families facing adversity, Sister Corita spent most of her life providing social services, education and health for those most in need (https://operationbreakthrough.org/sister-corita-bussanmas-1933-2021). To honor the life of Sister Corita, Children’s Mercy Hospital had a formal collaboration with Operation Breakthrough, named Partnership for Resilient Families, which combined early childhood education and healthcare delivery efforts at OB.


Chief Residents
Each year, Children’s Mercy Pediatrics Residency Program selects three resident leaders from the second-year class to continue at CMH for an additional year after graduation and serve as key leaders of the residency program and the hospital.

We are excited to announce the Pediatric Chief Residents for the 2022-2023 academic year will be: Dr. Darius Blanding, Dr. Zuri Hudson and Dr. Jordan Marquees. They will start their Chief Resident year in July 2022. For the upcoming academic year, July 2021-June 2022, our Chief Residents will be Drs. Adam, Brown and Meyer.

  • Darius Blanding, M.D.
    Dr. Blanding grew up in small town South Carolina and graduated with an honors biology degree from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University before completing medical school at the University of South Carolina-Greenville. He came to Kansas City for the first time to interview for our residency program and we are excited that he has chosen to stay for a fourth year and serve as Chief Resident. Throughout his residency training, Dr. Blanding has been recognized for his friendly demeanor and approachability mixed with his leadership skills that are highlighted in medical school student government positions and work with diversity and inclusion at both CMH and UMKC. Dr. Blanding has career aspirations that include pursuing a fellowship in Gastroenterology followed by a career in medical education.
  • Zuri Hudson, D.O.
    Dr. Hudson was in the first cohort of the Mercy +ME pilot-year program of the rotation that was funded by the Black Community Fund of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. After growing up in Sharpsburg, Georgia, she headed to Atlanta and Georgia Institute of Technology (She will tell you ‘Go Jackets!’) where she earned her undergraduate degree in biology.  She continued her education at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee where she earned her medical degree as well as a master’s degree in business (M.B.A) and a master’s degree in biological sciences (M.Biol.S.).  When you meet Dr. Hudson, you will quickly see why her peers identify her as energetic, enthusiastic, and approachable in her role as a physician and leader. Dr. Hudson post-residency plans includes a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology and continued work on her passions of diversity, equity and inclusion in academic medicine, mental health, and advocacy.
  • Jordan Marquess, M.D.
    Dr. Marquess is a Kansas City native who earned an honors degree in biology from Kansas State University along with a minor in leadership studies before completing her medical degree from the University of Kansas. Our residency program was happy Dr. Marquess chose to ‘stay home’ and complete her training at CMH where she has utilized her leadership background to demonstrate for her peers a friendly and enthusiastic energy with disciplined and professional expectations for patient care and creating positive work environments. Dr. Marquess is considering fellowship opportunities in hospital medicine or critical care after her Chief year with a goal to be a lifelong formal and informal leader in medicine.

Walking the Talk: Glass Ceiling
In honor of Women’s History Month, Michelle Wimes, SVP and Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, sat down with Children’s Mercy medical and research trainees to learn more about the obstacles they’ve overcome, who they see shattering glass ceilings, and what excites them about the future. Here is the Youtube link: https://youtu.be/9Bu_Rggjnfg


STAR Program

Congratulations to Dr. Bridgette Jones and Vickie Yarbrough on student and teacher selection of Children’s Mercy Summer Training in Academic Research (STAR) 2.0 Program, which provides a hands-on, high-quality research experience during the summer academic break for high school students and educators. During the 6-week program, held June 21 to July 29, 2021, participants will get the chance to:

– Work with Children’s Mercy faculty on an original research project.
– Develop a research publication for submission in a peer-reviewed journal.
– Learn about clinical and translational research methodology, writing, statistics, medical ethics, and career development.
– Network and learn with other students/educators from across the country.

The STAR Program 2.0 is held at the Children’s Mercy Research Institute (CMRI) and will also collaborate with the STAR Program at Duke University. The CMRI integrates research into healthcare by fostering a partnership among healthcare professionals, researchers, patients and families. Together we are pursuing discoveries to improve the health and well-being of children everywhere. The CMRI is located on the Hospital Hill Campus at 2401 Gillham Road, Kansas City, Mo.

Students and teacher are:
Mikayla Stamps – she is a student at Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kansas
Paw Wah – she is a student at Northeast High School
Zackary Shelby – he is a student at Lincoln Prep
Yvonne Villa – she is a student at East High School
Kaison Hill-Beard – he is a student at Lincoln Prep
Ms. Danielle Farr – middle school science teacher at University Academy


Children’s Mercy Hospital Notes

Two abstracts from Clínica Hispana de Cuidados de Salud (CHiCoS) Research Group have been accepted for presentation at the upcoming Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in May. Congratulations to project leads Jodi Dickmeyer and Ryan Northup. The titles are “Where are they now? Spanish utilization and career direction of graduates of a pediatric bilingual continuity clinic” and “Spanish-speaking families’ perspectives on the acceptability and impact of culture and language coaching for bilingual residents.” The abstracts will be presented as an “e-Poster with Chat Q&A” as part of an on-demand virtual poster session available throughout the meeting and until January 2022.

In honor of Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31st), CM Pride Employee Resource Group hosted two guest speakers: Rachael Cady, Kansas City Center for Inclusion and Dr. Rachael Allen from UMKC.

African-American Advancement celebrated Women’s History Month with a special wellness session titled, “Survival Over Sisterhood,” which is a reflection opportunity to talk about how we treat and/or celebrate one another.

In partnership with Interfaith Employee Resource Group and Spiritual Services, CM celebrated a virtual Festival of Colors-Holi celebration, a popular festival that celebrates the eternal and divine love of Radha and Krishna.

Children’s Mercy Office of Equity and Diversity and Spiritual Services conducted a Service to Honor Those Lost in the Atlanta Tragedy on March 23rd, 2021.

Truman Medical Center

Truman Medical Centers/University Health is excited to highlight two staff members who are expanding their roles to enhance the organization’s value in equity, diversity, and inclusion in our health care system.

Dr. Brett Ferguson, DDS, FACS, FICD, has become TMC/UH’s Medical Director of Health Equity. Dr. Ferguson serves our community as an accomplished oral and maxillofacial surgeon. He says he is happiest in the operating room. Among several other notable accomplishments, he is the recipient of the 2019 W. Kendall McNabney Heart for Healing Award, the first Black person to be elected to the board of trustees of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and chair of UMKC’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Hospital Dentistry. Many lives have been changed due to his passion to serve our community.

Kamera Meaney, MA, MBA, has assumed the role of Director of Nursing Administrative Services. She will lead projects on nursing wellness and resiliency, provide administrative support for the TMC/UH and UMKC academic-practice partnership, and will serve as the liaison between TMC/UH’s Nursing Administration and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Department. She is an alumna of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions Leadership Program and has been highly successful in implementing special programs and leading initiatives to advance equity in healthcare service delivery.

We congratulate Dr. Ferguson and Mrs. Meaney on their new roles. TMC/UH is confident they will enhance health care equity in our community.

The Collective – UMKC DEI Updates

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and the School of Medicine DEI Council are actively working to ensure that all identities represented at UMKC SOM are seen, heard, valued and appreciated. We are aware that we cannot make announcements and statements for everything, but we strive to provide some form of recognition for all.

2021 Residency Match

Congratulations to our Students in Medicine, Academia, Research, and Training (SMART) Program who matched for residency training. We are so proud of you and all of your hard work towards this wonderful achievement.

  • Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt – General Surgery – St. Joseph’s Hospital – Tacoma, WA
  • Rico Beuford – Emergency Medicine – Duke University Medical Center – Durham, NC
  • Manuela “Mela” Garcia – Family Medicine – Texas Tech University – El Paso, TX
  • Nina Govalla – Psychiatry – University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, AZ
  • Nila Jones – Internal Medicine – Kettering Health Network – Kettering, OH
  • Ginika Osude Ibezim – Family Medicine – University of Texas at Austin-Dell Medical School – Austin, TX
  • Debra Wekesa – Internal Medicine – University of Nebraska Medical Center – Omaha, NE

DEI Highlights


Women’s History Month
– Thank you to the presenters, panelists, members of the UMKC SOM Chapter of AMWA, and supporters of Women’s History Month activities. The month-long celebration included webinars about financial literacy, negotiation skills, leaderHERship, and a community service activity.

Panel Discussion – Thank you for attending our panel discussion about the documentary, Black Men in White Coats, on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. This was an impactful and informative discussion about the impacts of being a Black man in the medical profession, reasons for the decreased numbers of Black men in medicine, and potential action steps to mitigate this problem. Thank you to our moderator and panelists.

Michael Moncure, MD (moderator)
Jordan Grimmett
Darius Blanding, MD
Jackson Sadler, MD
Michael Moncure
Michael Weaver, MD
Gerald Woods, MD

Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia – Thank you for attending our panel discussion about anti-Asian racism and xenophobia on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. This was an empowering and safe space discussing the unfortunate rise in racism and xenophobia experienced by the Asian American/Pacific Islander community including the associated feelings about these acts and impact on the community. Thank you to our moderator and panelists.

Valerie Chuy (moderator)
Victoria Shi
Yen Luu
Nabeel Rasheed
Robin Imperial, MD
Rex Liu, MD
James Kim, MD
Nolan Kagetsu, MD

UIM Student Recruitment – At the School of Medicine, we continue to take action-steps towards supporting the recruitment of diverse students. This includes enhancing the pathway from our SOM high school and college student health sciences development programs with activities such as automatic interviews of participants for the Physician Assistant Program.We continue to create and strengthen partnerships and collaborations with K-12 schools, historically Black colleges/universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and non-profit organizations. More information to come in the future.

Learning Environment – The Learning Environment has been active and busy over the last few months in designing and creating content that promotes professionalism and respect at the SOM. The Project Expect Respect website is now up and running. This initiative is designed to highlight the stories and lived experiences of our SOM community in efforts to promote learning, teachable moments, and empathy from the experiences of others. Please visit https://med.umkc.edu/ProjectExpectRespect to share your story or read the stories of others. The Project PEAK (Professionalism, Empathy, and Kindness) website is also up and running. This initiative provides an opportunity to share stories and experiences about the core values of the medical profession. Please visit https://med.umkc.edu/ProjectPEAK/ to read and listen to colleagues stories as well as to share your own.


UMKC School of Medicine STAHR Program

  • The Ambassador Program wrapped up the year with its Culmination Ceremony on Wednesday, April 28th.  At the event, all professional mentors, student leaders and student mentors were honored. Additionally, we highlighted our 18 Spring 2021 graduates (6 from Medicine, 5 from Dentistry, and 7 from Pharmacy).
  • We are gearing up for our virtual Summer Scholars Program that starts June 1st for undergraduate students and June 14th for high school students. This summer, we will host 112 scholars in the program (40 undergraduates and 72 high school students). We are excited to kick-off the program soon! Take a look at what our 2020 Scholars had to say about the their experience in the program. What has UMKC STAHR Summer Scholars meant to you?