The High Priest of Sound

Paul Rudy has always been fascinated with sound. He’s ridden the sound waves to many impressive achievements as a composer, performer, Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Fellow, artist and sound healer. He’s currently the Curator’s Distinguished Professor, but his path to UMKC and the honorary title “High Priest of Sound” was as winding as the labyrinth he created on his Kansas farm.

“I understood the power of sound when I was a kid,” Rudy recalled. “My sister was watching a horror movie, and I was behind the couch playing. I heard this sound, and I stood up and started watching. It totally sucked me in. That movie scared the crap out of me! But I knew it was that sounds that drew me in.”

Rudy’s fascination with sound continued into his college career, even when he thought it wouldn’t.

“I did a jazz trumpet degree at Bethel College in Newton, then I quit music altogether and became a mountain climber and carpenter for four or five years,” he said. “That wasn’t stimulating my brain enough, though. I’ve been chasing my tail my whole life.”

The chase would bring him back to music in the late 80’s, when he joined a composition class at Wichita State University. It was there that he composed a piece of music his instructor described as graduate work. Invigorated by this taste of success, he applied for a music composition program at the University of Colorado and earned an assistantship in the program.

“I discovered the studio, and I fell in love with actually making and sculpting sound,” Rudy reminisced. “That’s why I went the electronic route.”

“Paul is a scientist.When I think of people in the Conservatory, I think of creators, musicians and artists, but I never think of science. And yet, Paul’s brain thinks like a scientist. He comes up with scientific principles, questions for us to analyze, and then he’s really good at analyzing data and distilling it down to what we need to answer our questions.”
– Gary Sutkin, M.D., director, Surgical Innovations Laboratory

It was this interest in electroacoustic music that would provide him with another opportunity in his academic career. This time, at UMKC’s Health Sciences Campus, working in tandem with Dr. Gary Sutkin, professor of surgery and associate dean of women’s health at the UMKC School of Medicine. Together, the two are studying how sounds in the operating room can affect health outcomes for patients during surgery.

“Paul is a scientist,” said Sutkin of his colleague. “When I think of people in the Conservatory, I think of creators, musicians and artists, but I never think of science. And yet, Paul’s brain thinks like a scientist. He comes up with scientific principles, questions for us to analyze, and then he’s really good at analyzing data and distilling it down to what we need to answer our questions.”

“I think my study with electroacoustics and knowing how the brain processes sound brought me to the operating room study,” Rudy says. “Sound is vibrating on us, acting upon us all the time. Every time we hear sound it’s not just hitting our ears; it’s hitting our whole body. There was a part of me that was excited about offering something other than just the study of music. This seemed to be an opportunity to take that work into a deeper, more significant arena, and it’s still unfolding.”

“We’ve been studying it for about two or three years, and we’re going to study it for about another 20,” said Sutkin, only half-jokingly. “We’re not the first ones to measure the sound environment, but I think we are the first ones to really delve into what we call ‘speech communication interference,’ when someone says something, and the other person doesn’t hear them. There are so many machines that are making loud noises, multiple conversations going on. We’re measuring those interferences, then I think we can make recommendations.”

Those recommendations could one day save lives by changing the very nature of how operating rooms are built and managed. For now, the pair are happy with the success they’ve seen, having been published in one medical journal, with a second article currently under review.

Rudy considers research a part of his creative process, satisfying his analytical side so as not to hinder creative flow while making his art. “The brain is really good at cataloging and organizing things, but the spirit knows how to make the best use of it all.” That was the realization, Rudy says, when creating became fun. “I felt like I had all these resources starting to really work together and complement each other.”

Rudy’s creative spirit carries well beyond music. Settled on 70 acres, north of Lawrence, Kansas, you’ll find Harmony Farm, a home as interesting and eccentric as the man who lives there.

“It’s become a canvas, of sorts, that I photograph and that I use to make modern day ‘Nazca Lines,’” says Rudy, referring to massive and mysterious geoglyphs etched across Peru’s Nazca Desert. While Rudy openly admits to keeping a quiet social life outside of the farm, he’s ever eager to share his passions with students at UMKC.

“Over the last ten years, I’ve started to love teaching,” Rudy says. “It went from being part of the job to something I really look forward to doing. Part of what I love is staying in touch with young people.”

“Paul is one of the most generous people I know, and one of the most open thinkers,” said Andrew Granade, former interim dean of the Conservatory. “I’ve been on dissertation graduate committees with him many, many times with his students, and they all sound like themselves. He has a unique ability to listen to them, respond to them and help them grow into the artist they need to be.”

Rudy challenges his students to find fresh perspectives, and he does so with zest, teaching a general education course he calls the artist in society.

“I’ve had students tell me they’ve never seen a piece of art before, I’ve had students tell me they’ve never had a conversation with someone they disagreed with before,” Rudy says. “And I just love seeing what happens when they have those new experiences. Part of my job is mentoring them into those new experiences. I present them with some really uncomfortable stuff, sometimes purposefully, for them to learn how to witness what happens in them when things get uncomfortable.”

“Paul is very Socratic in his teaching style,” said Granade, “I imagine the first couple of weeks it’s a little bit uncomfortable for them, because any time you have your beliefs or thoughts challenged, it’s uncomfortable. But what he’s doing is basically saying this is the role of the artist, literally the role of the artist in society is to open up these dialogues.”

Rudy says he wants students to think about the ways they act and react. How do they navigate obstacles? How do they learn and grow?

It’s a practice he recently had to exercise himself. But through a painful experience, he says he’s found one of his proudest moments.

Rudy’s long-time friend, poet Jay Hopler was 51 years old when he lost his battle with cancer in June. The two had studied together at the American Academy of Rome in Italy.

“In 2017, Jay was thinking about a poem that would describe himself, and he asked me, ‘If I were a piece of music, what would I be?’” Rudy says the melody was instant. “I heard the music in my head. That doesn’t happen often. Most of the time, it’s hard work, but I knew exactly what Jay sounds like.”

Holding up a copy of still life, Hopler’s final published book of poetry, Rudy turned to the last page of the closing entry, where just a few bars of music were included with the poet’s words.

“It’s the second-to-last line, even,” he notes. “I don’t think anybody’s ever done that before. A little piece of music, describing this poet, is part of his obituary poem. I didn’t know that until I saw the final copy of the book. I’m actually considering making a whole piece in memoriam of him to celebrate his amazing words and amazing life.”

It’s there Rudy shows his spirit again. His spirit for life, healing and creation through sound, even when faced with the loss of a friend. It’s this unique mindset that has pushed him to find success time and time again, both personally and professionally.

“For me,” Rudy says, “the bottom line is, ‘Is what I’m doing interesting?’ If not, is it the thing I’m doing? Or the way I’m doing it?” Adding, “It’s usually the latter.”

It’s this ability to reshape his own perspective that’s given Rudy new love for everything he does.

“I think that’s when my academic career started to change. When I realized it’s not the responsibility of my job to give me fulfillment, that’s my responsibility to find fulfillment in what I’m doing. I love these interesting collaborations that I’m constantly on the lookout for. Teaching is one of those collaborations between me and the generation that’s going to rule the world someday. How cool is that?”

Our Healthy Kansas City Eastside receives $5 million for community health initiative

The Jackson County Legislature approved $5 million to continue community health initiatives through Our Healthy Eastside Kansas City, based on the success of the coalition’s impact on COVID-19 and community health from its original funding in 2021.

Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., professor in the UMKC School of Medicine and director of the university’s Health Equity Institute, is leading the project. The funding will expand COVID-19 vaccinations, health screenings, reproductive services to address infant mortality and successful diabetes prevention programs in Kansas City’s Eastside. This funding is a continuation of the program’s initial $5 million grant.

Our Healthy KC Eastside is a community-wide initiative that promotes and delivers widespread COVID-19 vaccinations and other health services to residents on the east side of Kansas City. More than 60 community organizations and health agencies are partnering with OHKCE to support healthy lifestyles through vaccine events and health screenings such as blood pressure checks, diabetes screenings and dental education. OHKCE health agency partners include the UMKC schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing and Health Sciences, Children’s Mercy Hospital and University Health.

As part of the OHKCE initiative, more than 3,000 Kansas City residents completed surveys on their health beliefs, which showed that indifference or fear was not always behind low vaccination rates. Often, transportation or access to health care were factors. Providing health care delivery in community hubs on weekends and evenings provided better availability.

“This is a significant advance in assuring accessible and preventative health services are available to Jackson County residents,” Berkley-Patton says. “Our success with Our Healthy Eastside Kansas City is evidence that working collaboratively with community and health partners can greatly increase the reach of health care in the most underserved neighborhoods and have a positive impact on our entire community.”

“As a provider of community health and regional health education, UMKC recognizes the significance of this funding on our community,” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal says. “We thank the Jackson County Legislature for their leadership on this issue, and congratulate Dr. Berkley Patton on her dedication to high quality healthcare delivery to every citizen of Jackson County.”

Alumni join School of Medicine’s anesthesiologist assistant program faculty

Three UMKC School of Medicine’s Master of Science in Anesthesia program alumni have been selected for faculty leadership roles. They all have served as preceptors for many years and bring diversity in their clinical and leadership experiences, expertise and advocacy for the anesthesiologist assistant (AA) profession.

Jonathan Chambers, a 2010 graduate, has been selected to serve as director of didactic education.

Chambers, an anesthesiologist assistant at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, has been a clinical instructor since 2011. He will be responsible for classroom teaching as well as coaching the School of Medicine’s basic medical science faculty in adapting courses to the anesthesiologist assistant profession. He also will serve as chair of the curriculum committee and ensure that the program’s curriculum meets the standards of accrediting and certifying bodies.

Adam Petersen, a 2012 graduate, is the new director of simulation education.

Petersen served as an anesthesiologist assistant at Ozark Anesthesia Associates in Springfield, then joined Saint Luke’s Hospital Kansas City in 2016. He will oversee the program’s simulation education, including “boot camp,” which involves intensive simulation training the first six weeks of the program. Students then receive a weekly curriculum of simulation and skills training throughout their first year. Petersen also will work to incorporate additional simulation training in the second year of the program.

Maggie Munn, who graduated in 2014, has been named director of clinical education.

Munn is an anesthesiologist assistant at Saint Luke’s Hospital Kansas City, and has served as a clinical instructor at the School of Medicine since 2015. As clinical coordinator, she will be responsible for scheduling all first-, second-, and third-year students at their clinical rotation sites, and will ensure students are on pace to meet their clinical requirements. She also will coach students, providing feedback and helping them set goals for each rotation. Munn is active in advocacy for the AA profession. She has served on leadership committees with the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants since 2016 and as president and vice president of the Missouri chapter.

Many School of Medicine AA graduates and faculty are involved nationally with leadership roles within the AA profession. Matthew Pinegar, M.D., program medical director, is a member of the board of directors for the Accreditation Review Committee for Anesthesiologist Assistant. Lance Carter, program director, is a member of the exam-item writing committee for the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants.

The School of Medicine’s AA program started in 2008 and was the first AA program located west of the Mississippi. It is now one of 15 accredited AA educational programs throughout the country.

Established to help address the shortage of providers in anesthesia care, the program accepts up to 16 new students each year for admission and boasts a 100% certification exam pass rate and employment rate for its graduates. While certified anesthesiologist assistants can practice in 19 states and in Washington, D.C., the majority of UMKC graduates are employed in Missouri, where they deliver quality anesthesia care to patients.

Prerequisites for the program are a bachelor’s degree with pre-medical sciences classes and passage of the Medical College Admission Test or Graduate Record Examination. The 27-month program begins each January, and students receive more than 2,000 hours of hands-on clinical training with patients. A highlight of the UMKC AA program is the intense skills and simulation instruction in the clinical training facility, as well as experience in the operating room that begins in the first semester.

 

School of Medicine alumna, faculty member Amy Patel is 2022 Chiefs’ Fan of the Year

The Kansas City Chiefs are on a roll in the National Football League and UMKC School of Medicine alumna and faculty member Amy Patel, M.D., is now part of the excitement surrounding Chiefs Kingdom.

Patel, a 2011 graduate and assistant professor of radiology at the School of Medicine, is celebrating the team’s success as its 2022 Fan of the Year. With that, Patel is now the Chiefs’ nominee for 2022 NFL Fan of the Year.

Patel learned of the honor earlier this year before the Chiefs’ home-opening game against the Los Angeles Chargers when she was awarded the game’s Lamar Hunt Legacy Seat that recognizes a community member who represents the spirit of Lamar Hunt, the team’s founder.

“I got to meet (Chiefs’ owner) Clark Hunt and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who shared the news with me,” Patel said at the time. “I am still in shock! But I feel so honored to have my work recognized as well as my love of the Chiefs.”

As Chiefs Fan of the Year, Patel will receive two tickets to the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 12 and will be invited to take in all of the game’s surrounding activities.

Each of the NFL’s 32 teams selects a Fan of the Year. Through a combination of fan voting on the league’s web site that began this week and scoring by a panel of judges based on the individual’s enthusiasm, team fandom, inspirational story and community spirit, the NFL will select and announce its Fan of the Year at the Super Bowl.

Patel is a breast imaging specialist and medical director of the Breast Care Center at Liberty Hospital. With a primary focus on breast radiology and research in breast health equity, artificial intelligence, and digital breast tomosynthesis, she helped to build a comprehensive breast care program in Liberty.

Her love for the Chiefs began at an early age growing up in Chillicothe, Missouri. After earning her medical degree, she went to Harvard University, where she helped build a comprehensive breast care program at a local hospital. In 2018, Patel returned to Kansas City, where she is recognized as a champion of helping women achieve equitable access to breast care and a loyal fan of the Chiefs.

 

Health Sciences Campus welcomes new director of major gifts

Gus Sonnenberg, a 15-year fundraising veteran, has joined the UMKC Foundation as senior director of major gifts for the Health Sciences Campus. He will work specifically with the schools of Nursing and Health Studies, Medicine and Pharmacy.

Sonnenberg will work with the schools’ leadership to identify, cultivate, solicit and steward those who want to make an impact on student’s lives. He said he is making plans to meet with leadership, faculty and donors to understand the schools’ priorities and create a plan to move forward.

He brings with him a strong record of success managing capital campaigns, having secured six- and seven-figure gifts. He has also led continuing education conferences and taught courses on educational foundation fundraising and leadership.

Sonnenberg, a 1997 graduate of the UMKC School of Law, said he understands the role UMKC plays in serving the greater Kansas City area, and is excited about the work that can be done to advance programs and provide financial support for students.

Sonnenberg is a Kansas City native who attended Rockhurst High School and Creighton University on an Army ROTC scholarship before law school. He started his legal career as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Cass and Jackson counties, working on everything from traffic tickets to felony trials. He was recruited to become general counsel for the General American Mutual Holding Company Receivership, where he managed the distribution of $1.2 billion dollars to individuals and companies around the world.

After wrapping up the receivership, Sonnenberg changed careers and became director of development for Rockhurst High School.

He has been active in the Kansas City Bar Association, St. Elizabeth Parish, Cub Scouts, Brookside Soccer, and the Jesuit Schools Network. He and his wife Julie, a physical therapist and founder of Empower Physical Therapy in Prairie Village, have four children and live in Leawood, Kansas.

Rural medicine program expansion leads to School of Medicine renovation projects

A rendering of  the School of Medicine’s new second-floor learning space. Rendering by Odimo, LLC.

Missouri is getting help with its rural physician shortage from the UMKC School of Medicine.

In addition to planning a major expansion of its rural medicine campus at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, the medical school is making renovations to its Kansas City building in the Health Sciences District (HSD).

“Ensuring top-notch education and training at both of our campuses starts with creating learning spaces that are state-of-the-art,” said School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. “These renovations are key to our mission.”

The updates will provide new high-tech teaching areas for students in rural medicine as the school continues to expand its medical education program with a goal of ultimately increasing the number of physicians practicing in rural Missouri and surrounding areas.

“These HSD renovations are intimately tied to the program at St. Joseph to provide the same pre-clinical training for rural medicine on the Kansas City campus as what students are receiving at Mosaic in St. Joseph,” said School of Medicine Vice Dean Paul Cuddy. “We’re training students in St. Joseph to practice in these rural areas. As part of that training operation, some of what we’re trying to do is improve the educational spaces for our students.”

Currently underway in Kansas City is a fourth-floor renovation and expansion of an existing classroom space into an area that will accommodate up to 30 students. The room will house three 85-inch display monitors, two high definition cameras for video conferencing and white boards for group collaborations. The project also includes construction of a new student study area for HSD-based students with an interest in rural medicine.

Rendering of the new fourth-floor study area. Rendering by Odimo, LLC

After the construction on the fourth floor is complete, another renovation project is scheduled to begin early next year on the school’s second floor. That project will combine the current Graduate Medical Education office suite with an adjoining area to create a large, state-of-the-art educational space.

The new second floor educational spaces in Kansas City, while big enough to accommodate a large number of students, will also be set up to allow for small-group learning, using multiple study-group tables of up to six students, as opposed to typical classroom or auditorium seating. Each workstation will have a 65-inch display monitor for remote learning and lectures. The room will also have an 86-inch multi-touch display monitor and high-definition cameras for video conferencing.

The classroom is being designed to create an intimate setting that mimics the classroom setting planned for the new medical school building that will be constructed soon on the St. Joseph campus. The goal is an active learning environment intentionally designed to merge the two campuses.

The construction taking place in Kansas City and St. Joseph is part of the School of Medicine’s ongoing efforts to meet the medical needs of rural Missouri. Nearly half of Missouri’s rural counties are facing physician shortages according to a Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services report.

The School of Medicine opened its rural medicine program in St. Joseph in January 2021. Now it is working to extend those educational experiences to students on the Kansas City campus.

“We’re trying to set up these classrooms to make the two campuses as seamless as they can possibly be through technology and educational spaces,” said Mike Wacker, associate dean for academic affairs. “Students taking classes in the Health Sciences District will have an opportunity to have exposure to the activities that are really geared to students with a rural medicine mindset. The fourth-floor classroom will be set up so students feel as if they are sitting in the classroom at St. Joseph. We’re being very intentional about making that experience very consistent.”

Renovations on the School of Medicine’s fourth floor are expected to be completed by the end of the year, with classes to be held in the new learning space as early as January 2023. Work on the second-floor project is projected to begin in January, and is expected to be completed in time to be used for classes in the 2023 Fall semester.

Earlier this year, the school completed a renovation of the second-floor medical education media center. The area was transformed to serve as an extension of the school’s Clinical Training Facility, offering additional simulation-based training with the use of high-fidelity simulation manikins and training models.

School of Medicine appoints St. Joseph campus assistant dean of student affairs

Kristen Kleffner, Ph.D., has assumed a new role as assistant dean of student affairs for the UMKC School of Medicine’s St. Joseph campus.

In her position, Kleffner will oversee all School of Medicine student affairs activities and services for the St. Joseph students at Mosaic Life Care. This includes academic advising and support, career advising, financial wellness, events, student records, advocacy and organizations.

Kleffner has spent her career in medical education. She attended the University of Missouri–Columbia where she completed a master’s degree in counseling and a Ph.D. in higher education administration. She joined the School of Medicine staff in 2010 and has served in progressive roles in admissions, advising and career services before becoming assistant dean for the St. Joseph campus in 2020 when the school opened its new rural medicine site at Mosaic Life Care.

She has served on several committees during her tenure at UMKC including the Chancellor’s LGBTQIA Initiative, the General Education 2.0 Committee, and as the advisor for the Student National Medical Association.

“We are excited to have Dr. Kleffner as part of our Student Affairs team and look forward to her continued advocacy of students,” said Robert Riss, M.D., associate dean of student affairs.

SOM alumnus selected new internal medicine endowed chair

Clarkston, WendellThe UMKC School of Medicine announced that alumnus and former docent Wendell Clarkston, M.D., ’84, will serve as the new Arthur W. Robinson Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine.

The University of Missouri-matched position is based at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, where Clarkston, a professor of medicine and director of the GI fellowship program, will continue to serve as a mentor and educator, working to promote quality care and supporting the academic path for faculty.

He called the appointment a tremendous honor and thanked leaders at the School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s and the search committee.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Department of Medicine to continue to optimize patient care and medical education at Saint Luke’s Hospital and UMKC,” Clarkston said.

In addition to his roles as academic and administrative chair of internal medicine at Saint Luke’s, Clarkston is also vice chair of the Department of Medicine for Saint Luke’s programs at the School of Medicine.

He has also held many teaching and administrative roles at the School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s. In addition to serving as a School of Medicine docent, he has been both an assistant and associate dean for graduate medical education, a member of the UMKC promotions committee and chair of the credentials and professional affairs committees. As chair of the graduate medical education council, he worked with faculty, program directors and administrators at the school’s clinical partner hospitals to ensure successful Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation for many of the school’s post-graduate programs in their early years. He has also been a member of the Saint Luke’s quality board.

After receiving his medical degree from the School of Medicine, Clarkston completed both an internal medicine/pediatrics residency and a gastroenterology fellowship at UMKC. A nationally recognized expert in advanced endoscopy training, transplant hepatology and care of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, Clarkston has authored more than 80 papers, book chapters and national abstract presentations. He was honored in 2008 with the UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement award.

Donald Campbell, M.D., was appointed inaugural Arthur W. Robinson Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine in 2007 and has served in the role since. During his tenure, he worked on behalf of learners and trainees in the Department of Medicine to provide quality inpatient and outpatient clinical care, develop and implement enhanced quality monitors and to retain and recruit high quality faculty.

“The UMKC/Saint Luke’s endowed chair program is a truly amazing resource for both institutions,” Campbell said. “The program facilitates the recruitment and retention of thought leaders, master clinicians and researchers to both institutions.”

UMKC announces $30 million gift from Sunderland Foundation for Health Sciences District project

Conceptional drawing of a new building on the Health Sciences District.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced a $30 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation that will help fund a new building in the UMKC Health Sciences District to house expanded medical school teaching facilities and state-of-the-art dental teaching clinics.

The project will help escalate momentum for expanding the district into a major regional academic medical center that can provide innovative health care, attract top medical students and researchers and generate billions of dollars in jobs and economic development, while advancing care for the underserved.

The multi-story, $120 million Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building will also provide space for the UMKC Health Equity Institute, the university’s Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center and its new Biomedical Engineering program.

“We are grateful to the Sunderland Foundation for their investment in taking the Health Sciences District to the next level, spearheading an academic medical center with extraordinary community benefits,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “This gift by a local foundation that supports making big positive change in Kansas City is an investment not just in a building, but in a truly big, longer-term vision. We believe our new building will escalate momentum to exponentially expand the Health Sciences District in coming years to become the major regional academic medical center that we know it can be.”

Gov. Mike Parson, who in July signed legislation from the state of Missouri to appropriate $40 million for the building, said the appropriation came with a challenge to the Kansas City community to raise the additional funds needed.

“We are proud to support the efforts of UMKC to improve educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math to expand health care access in the state of Missouri, particularly in rural areas,” Parson said. “Missourians will reap the benefits of increased collaboration between health care services and the data science and biomedical engineering programs that will share the building. This partnership could help further health outcomes through new, innovative solutions right here in Missouri.”

Grants from the Sunderland Foundation focus on brick-and-mortar projects for established organizations to foster a stronger, safer and more vibrant future for the communities it serves.

“The Sunderland Foundation is proud to give to UMKC’s efforts to transform the Health Science District,” said Kent Sunderland, chairman of the Sunderland Foundation. “The cutting-edge facilities will provide innovative training opportunities for tomorrow’s doctors, dentists and healthcare leaders who will improve prosperity in our neighborhoods, cities and state. The Sunderland Foundation and UMKC share a mission of caring for the underserved and lifting neighborhoods.”

The new building will provide expanded classroom space and state-of-the-art educational facilities for UMKC medical students and programs, such as space for more simulation labs, which lead to better training for students and better care for the community.

It will also allow for increased collaboration among health care fields. UMKC is one of only 20 universities in the country where dentistry, medicine, nursing and health studies, and pharmacy share a single, walkable campus, which underscores the need to continue to provide opportunities for collaboration among the health sciences.

 

 

School of Medicine receives 2022 award for excellence in diversity

INSIGHT into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity publication for higher education, has recognized the UMKC School of Medicine with its Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for the second time in four years.

One of only two schools in Missouri to receive this year’s national honor, the School of Medicine also received the award in 2018.

“We are proud of the work at our SOM that allowed us to be recognized with the 2022 HEED award,” School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson said. “Our DEI efforts are made possible through not only the passion and commitment of our staff and faculty who lead initiatives, programs, and outreach, but we see these efforts translate to a positive impact on student recruitment, retention, completion and ultimately to benefit the health and welfare within our community and beyond.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity selected the School of Medicine for its efforts supporting diversity, equity and inclusion. Among those are new programs such as UNITED (Uniting Numerous Medical Trainees in Equity and Diversity), a program to support resident and fellowship trainees, an anti-racism and cultural bias program for medical students, a summer success seminar series for incoming B.A.-M.D. students, and expansion of the school’s successful STAHR (Students in Training, Academia, Research and Health) program.

The school’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has also received an increase in its budget to support programming and initiatives, has added an assistant dean to the office, and has been an active part of a care team for students in academic risk as well as admissions and selection committees for the school’s academic programs.

Dean Jackson praised her staff.

“Congratulations to Dr. Tyler Smith and Ms. Doris Agwu, our associate and assistant dean respectively, Drs. Ayanda Chakawa and Wail Hassan, who lead our Diversity Council, and all of the staff and faculty who work tirelessly to envision, promote and expand the DEI footprint at our medical school,” she said.

Smith said, “We are honored and humbled. Receiving the HEED Award recognizes our programs and initiatives that embrace the medical school’s mission towards creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture within the learning and clinical environments for graduate and medical students, residents, fellows, faculty, and staff. As a top priority at UMKC School of Medicine, we strive to infuse DEI into all academic units while ensuring that all identities feel seen, heard, valued and respected.”

The School of Medicine, as well as 64 other recipients, will be featured in the December 2022 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. A.T. Still University College of Graduate Health Sciences, an osteopathic medical school with a campus in Kirksville, is the only other Missouri college to receive this year’s honor.

UMKC received the HEED Award in 2019 and the UMKC School of Dentistry received the award for health professions schools in 2016.

“The Health Professions HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a Health Professions HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for schools where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”