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.”

Health Sciences campus welcomes new alumni relations director

Amelia Howard, a member of the academic support staff for UMKC athletics since 2008, has joined the UMKC Health Sciences Campus as alumni relations director serving the schools of medicine, nursing and health studies, and pharmacy.

In this new role, Howard will engage with the alumni of these programs through outreach, events and programming. She’ll work closely with the deans and alumni boards of each school to continue to maintain and create new connections and opportunities for alumni to stay involved with UMKC and their respective schools.

Previously, Howard assisted with oversight of the educational development of 240 student-athletes, overseeing and managing the day-to-day operations of SASSO including a wide array of mentoring and tutoring programs. She also served as the campus SALC advisor and as director of student-athlete development programming, including the scheduling and implementation of speakers, workshops, bystander training and APPLE Team programming.

Howard is a member of the UMKC Staff Council engagement committee. She has also worked with the Flexible Work Arrangement Task Force, the Strategic Planning Committee, the UMKC Mental Health Task Force and the UMKC Green Dot Team. She received the UMKC Staff Council “Living the Values” award in 2019.

Howard has served as assistant director of academic support in the athletics department since 2015. Before that, she was the learning services coordinator for the Student-Athlete Support Services Office (SASSO). She joined the full-time staff in 2011 after working in different capacities for SASSO from 2008-2011 during which she mentored and tutored individual at-risk student-athletes, tracking academic progress on a weekly basis.

Prior to serving as an academic mentor, Howard was an NCAA tutor and proctor for SASSO from 2008-2010. She worked with student-athletes in all levels of English and Language Arts courses as well as proctored the study hall on a weekly basis.

Journey begins for UMKC School of Medicine Class of 2028

The UMKC School of Medicine Class of 2028 participated in the annual InDOCtrination Ceremony.
Second-year medical student Samuel Kim received the 2022 Richard T. Garcia award from Bridget Jones, M.D., assistant academic dean for student affairs.

Samuel Kim, a second-year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine, spoke from experience when offering words of advice to the incoming Class of 2028 Friday morning during the school’s annual InDOCtrination Ceremony.

People need people, Kim said, reflecting on his time as a first-year medical student.

“Even if you forget everything else from day to day, remember you need each other,” Kim said.

Kim shared his message as this year’s recipient of the annual Richard T. Garcia Award. The honor is given annually to a second-year student for outstanding leadership, compassion toward fellow students and first-year academic performance.

With a packed auditorium of family and friends looking on, the School of Medicine introduced a class of 105 new students who are beginning their journey toward becoming physicians. One of the morning event’s highlights was the introduction of the annual Garcia Award winner.

In receiving the award, Kim related how instrumental his classmates were during his first year of medical school.

“You all voted me as this award recipient because you thought I was the best in you, but honestly, you’re the best in me,” Kim said, speaking to the second-year class. “Every day I can smile, I can fail, I can succeed and I can study because you make it worth it. You remind me what goodness, patience, intelligence, prudence, love and wisdom look like. You’re my support.”

School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., echoed Kim’s encouragement for the first-year students to look to one another and others around them for the support they will need in navigating the school’s six-year program.

“Your friends, your family, your medical school peers and all of the staff and faculty here today and those you meet along the way will bring you support in times of distress and rejoice and celebrate with each of your accomplishments,” Jackson said. “It will be a wild ride at times.”

The first-year class is comprised of students from across the United States, from Massachusetts to California and come from small towns of 2,000 to metropolitan areas of more than 9 million people. It is also a diverse group with nearly one-fourth of the class made up of racial groups underserved in medicine.

Each of the students was introduced with their Year 1 docent units. The class then listened to a reading of the Oath of Physicians. It is the same oath the class will recite in six year upon graduation.

Jackson left the group with one final encouragement.

“Keep your passion, keep your focus and boundless energy. That is my hope and my vision for you today as you start your medical school journey,” Jackson said. “I promise you, the time is going to fly by.”

Student National Medical Association welcomes UMKC student to BOD

Fifth-year medical student Josephine Nwankwo has joined the Student National Medical Association Board of Directors (SNMA) as academic affairs co-chair.

She was elected to the role this spring during the 2022 SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference, the largest gathering of minority medical students in the nation. In her new position, she will work to further the SNMA mission of supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students by helping provide academic resources and opportunities to members.

Nwankwo has been active in the SNMA throughout her medical school career. She previously participated the organization’s National Future Leadership Program that provides training in leadership skills, networking and project development.

At the School of Medicine, Nwankwo has served as a mentor and assisted with the Saturday Academy and Summer Scholars programs. She is also is a member of the school’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Council and serves as vice president of the UMKC chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association.

The SNMA is the nation’s oldest and largest independent student-run organization. With more than 7,000 members, it serves to focus on the needs and concerns of medical students of color.

SOM’s Nwankwo receives AMA Foundation scholarship

Christy Nwankwo, a sixth year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine, has received a 2022 American Medical Association Foundation Underrepresented in Medicine Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship.

Nwankwo has been active at the School of Medicine in community involvement and advocacy. She has served in leadership roles with the Student National Medical Association as well as serving as clinic manager for the school’s Sojourner Health Clinic and the Kansas City Free Eye Clinic.

She has also taken on mentorship roles that include founding an organization to encourage high school students to consider a career in medicine. Nwankwo is active in research that explores dermatologic concerns for persons of color.

The AMA Foundation award is given to African American, Latinx/Hispanic, or Native American/Native Hawaiian/Alaska Native students who have demonstrated a dedication to serving vulnerable or underserved populations.

The Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship program provides tuition assistance to medical students in their final year of school. Since 1950, the program has awarded more $61 million in scholarships to medical students in 12 scholarship categories with a variety of focus areas, including serving those underrepresented in medicine.

White Coat Ceremony marks next step for UMKC med students

Medical students at the UMKC School of Medicine’s campuses in Kansas City and St. Joseph participated in the annual White Coat Ceremony on August 6 and 7, an annual rite of passage as they begin a more intensive part of their clinical training.

The physician’s white coat, one of the most recognizable symbols of the medical profession, signifies a growing set of responsibilities such as the development of a formal relationship between physicians and their patients. It is also a reminder of the physician’s obligation to practice medicine with clinical competence and compassion.

“I encourage you to wear your coat with pride and integrity,” Jill Moormeier, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, said during the ceremony for students on the Health Sciences Campus in Kansas City.

During the ceremony, students entering their third-year of the School of Medicine curriculum were coated by their new Year 3-6 docents.

Sharing how medicine has evolved over the years, Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., School of Medicine dean, called this a remarkable time in medical history for students to receive their white coats and continue their quest to become a physician.

“There is a constant over time, and that is, you affirm your commitment to medicine and embrace your coat as a symbol of compassion, of your professionalism and the honor and privilege of caring for patients,” she said.

At Mosaic Life Care, home of the School of Medicine’s St. Joseph campus, Jackson shared her message as family and dignitaries looked on while 21 students received their white coats. The students were coated by individuals they had identified as a supportive mentor or loved one in their pursuit of a medical career.

In addition to Jackson, the class received encouragement from Mosaic Life Care Chief Executive Officer Mike Poore and Edward Kammerer, Chief Medical Officer and Clinic President at Mosaic Life Care.

James Shackelford, manager the school’s admissions office, presented a special School of Medicine St. Joseph Campus award for Outstanding Community Engagement to the Missouri Northwest Area Health Education Center. The award is given to an outstanding individual or entity that has dedicated efforts to the betterment of the future academic medical community in Missouri and to the medical school in St. Joseph.

On the Kansas City Campus, the school recognized Valerie Rader, M.D., ’05, as this year’s Outstanding Years 1 and 2 Docent. A cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Rader has served as a docent for first and second-year students for 11 years, is a lecturer for the School of Medicine’s physician assistant program and in 2020 received a teaching award from the Department of Internal Medicine.

School of Medicine alumni Michele Kilo, M.D., ’84, and Barry Gubin, M.D., ’84, also presented the Marilyn McGuyre scholarship to third-year student Krish Sardesai. The scholarship honors McGuyre, who served as long-time director of student affairs and career counselor.

Students at both campus ceremonies were read a compilation of their class reflections on the Philosophy of Medicine as well as the UMKC version of the Hippocratic Oath that they will recite when they graduate.

The School of Medicine conducted its first White Coat Ceremony for third-year students in 2003. The program is sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to emphasize the importance of compassionate care for patients and proficiency in the art and science of medicine.