New School of Medicine program designed to support underrepresented minority faculty

A new program launched earlier this year at the School of Medicine is helping develop and prepare underrepresented minority faculty for advancement from junior to senior faculty positions.

The URM Faculty Scholars and Fellows Program is an initiative of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. It works in collaboration with the school’s offices of Professional Development and Academic Affairs, and affiliate hospitals.

“Our faculty need to know that they’re coming into a supportive environment,” said Nate Thomas, associate dean for diversity and inclusion. “This program is based on the idea of promoting diversity and supporting our underrepresented minority faculty.”

Eight faculty members who are physicians at affiliate hospitals including Truman Medical Center, Saint Luke’s Hospital, Children’s Mercy and the Kansas City Veterans Medical Center, are currently participating in the 13-month enterprise.

The program started in October. Led by members of the medical school’s Collaborative Committee for Faculty Success, it includes seven two-hour sessions. The focus is on topics such as understanding the criteria and process for faculty promotion; recognizing personal strengths, weakness, opportunities;  and establishing attainable goals and strategies for successful promotion.

Participants also receive coaching from senior faculty and administrators.

“I want to learn how to become a more effective leader and craft my personal leadership style,” said Leah Jones, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

Santosh Shenoy, M.D., a clinical associate professor of surgery at Kansas City Veteran’s Medical Center, said he also joined the program to gain a better understanding of the administrative functions of graduate medical education and other physician leadership roles.

“This may enable me to advance my career and future opportunities at UMKC,” he said.

Thomas said another goal is for faculty members who complete the program and successfully go through the promotion process to ultimately become mentors and advisors and help future faculty members.

The first class of participants is scheduled to complete the program in November 2020.