Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., 1921-2014

Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., 1921-2014
Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., 1921-2014

Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., a cornerstone of the UMKC School of Medicine, died peacefully on July 30. She was 92.

Sirridge was integral to the School of Medicine from its inception, serving as a founding docent and later as the School’s dean. Combined with her deep appreciation for medical humanities, Sirridge brought an approach to medicine that emphasized empathy and compassion for the patient, characteristics that are bedrocks of the School’s curriculum.

Sirridge earned her medical degree in 1944, graduating first in her class from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Just two years later, when informed that it was not acceptable to become pregnant while completing one’s residency program, Sirridge put aside her career to begin a family.

She resumed her medical career in 1951, picking up where she had left off by specializing in internal medicine and hematology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and the University of Kansas Medical Center. She published her first book in 1967, Laboratory Evaluation of Hemostasis and Thrombosis, which has gone through three editions.

After working in private practice and serving on faculty at the University of Kansas School of Medicine for more than a decade, Sirridge and her husband, William, were recruited to serve as two of the three founding docents for the new University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine when the School opened in 1971. Sirridge spent the remainder of her career in numerous roles at the School.

“We have all been extremely privileged to have worked with Dr. Sirridge for many years and have been enriched by her tremendous wisdom and guidance,” said School of Medicine Dean Betty M. Drees, M.D., F.A.C.P.  “Her contributions to the School of Medicine are many and  will have a lasting and positive impact on future generations of physicians.”

She was highly active in health-related activities at all levels and served on many community-related boards. Among a long list of medical-related honors, Sirridge received the Alma Dea Morani, M.D. Renaissance Woman Award from the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine in 2010. Her civic efforts were also recognized with many awards and honors including the Outstanding Kansas Citian and the Kansas City Career Woman of the Year awards.

While serving as a docent, Sirridge established the UMKC Program for Women in Medicine in 1983 to help female students and physicians succeed in a male-dominated system. Due in part to her influence, the UMKC School of Medicine boasts one of the highest rates of female students among the country’s co-educational medical schools.

When the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NLM) created a traveling exhibit in 2003 called Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating American Women Physicians, Sirridge was included as one of the pioneering women in medicine. The exhibit now exists online to honor the achievements of those women who excelled in their medical careers.

Asked how she stood out and made a difference as a physician, Sirridge wrote in her NLM biography, “I genuinely care about patients. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of patient care.”

Marjorie and William Sirridge endowed the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Marjorie Sirridge became its first director in 1992, building a program of courses in medicine and the humanities that other medical schools in the country have copied. She later endowed a professorship in medical humanities.

Sirridge was appointed dean of the medical school in 1997 and served in that role until 1999, when she again turned her focus to the medical humanities program. The School of Medicine honored her in 2005 with an appointment as a professor emerita.

In 2011, the Kansas University Women in Medicine and Science organization honored Sirridge by establishing the annual Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., Excellence in Medicine and Science Award.

“There have been many ups and downs,” Sirridge said in her Changing the Face of Medicine biography. “But I have never felt that I made the wrong decision when I decided to be a physician.”

A private, family service will be held. The family suggests contributions to The Endowed Lectureship of Dr. Marjorie Sirridge at the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

Read the Kansas City Star obituary.