New year, pandemic trend offer reasons for optimisim

As cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue to trend down, we anticipate that with the coming new year SARS CoV-2 will become an endemic infection. With a combination of high vaccine coverage affording protection for most, we will hopefully no longer see the virus continue to widely circulate and cause severe disease where lockdowns, masks and/or social distancing are required. However, we know that periodic boosters may be necessary as immunity can wane and new variants could arise.

Meanwhile, our students continue with in person classwork. Our junior and senior students are in clinical clerkships and electives. And we are grateful to our clinical partners and our SOM staff and faculty for their engagement and support throughout the pandemic.

This fall, we’ve seen a successful recruitment of our 2022 physician assistant, anesthesia assistant and MD track students with upcoming interviews for our BA/MD class. During our faculty awards event at Diastole on October 28, we recognized 60 faculty who were promoted, with 14 to professor rank. We also honored six faculty who received awards in diversity and health equity (Dr. Liset Olarte Carhuaz), the Christopher Papasian, PhD, excellence in teaching award (Dr. James Wooten), the Louise E. Arnold, PhD, excellence in medical education research (Dr. Angellar Manguvo), the faculty researcher award (Dr. John Spertus), the Betty M. Drees, MD, excellence in mentoring award (Dr. Michael Wacker) and the clinical affiliate teaching award (Dr. Stacey Algren).

We also celebrated the 2021 class of top doctors recognized in the medical edition of Ingram’s magazine, where 12 of the 25 honorees selected by their peers were either our medical school alumni or our faculty. And Dr. Michael Weaver, ’77, the School of Medicine’s first African American BA/MD student received the Kansas City Medical Society Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his extraordinary career. Our research enterprise continues to grow. Our St. Joseph campus has successfully completed its first year and we look forward to graduating 110 students who will join our alumni ranks this spring, right ahead of our 50th year anniversary celebration on June 4, 2021, at the Loews Hotel in Kansas City.

All in all, we have many reasons to be optimistic as we move forward!

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