Tag Archives: Diversity and Inclusion

Surgical dermatologist Dr. Meena Singh to give 2020 Shannon Lecture

Meena Singh, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, will present the UMKC School of Medicine’s 2020 Dr. Reaner and Mr. Henry Shannon Lecture in Minority Health on Feb. 28. A specialist in treating all types of cosmetic and medical hair loss, Singh currently serves as medical director of the KMC Hair Center in Shawnee, Kansas.

She received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed her residency training at the Mayo Clinic. She subsequently completed a surgical fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery, recognized as the most effective technique for treating common skin cancer. Singh also completed a fellowship with the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery under world-renowned surgeon Dr. Marc Avram. She has trained in all areas of hair transplantation techniques.

With a special interest in treating ethnic skin/skin of color, Singh has conducted clinical trials for laser hair stimulation. She has also studied hair transplants for both scarring and non-scarring hair loss, skin cancer in transplant patients and tissue engineering. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed dermatology journals, book chapters, as well as the New England Journal of Medicine. She recently co-authored a hair transplant textbook. Her blog articles have been published in online periodicals and she has also been featured on the cover of New York Times.

She currently serves as vice president of the Greater Kansas City chapter of the National Medical Association (NMA) and the Secretary/Treasurer of NMA Dermatology.

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.

New Summer Scholars program opens the door of opportunity in health professions to college undergrads

Paul Ganss, EMS Education Program Director, used a mannequin to show STAHR Summer Scholar students how to apply a bag valve mask on a patient.

Two years ago, Karlin Byrd was a Kansas City high school student exploring her options in the health care professions through the UMKC School of Medicine’s Summer Scholars program. Now, getting ready for her second year of college, Byrd is back for more as part of the inaugural class of the school’s new Summer Scholars program for college students.

“My first time in the program, I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician,” said Byrd, who attended Lincoln Prep High School. “I did the clinical rotations in Summer Scholars and realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

After spending her freshman year at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, where she is now studying to become a pharmacist, Byrd has recently joined other college students from Kansas City in the new STAHR Summer Scholars program.

Much like the high school version of Summer Scholars, it provides experiences in clinical settings, supplemental instruction in the sciences, research opportunities, and reinforced skill development to support student academic progression and retention. This six-week program goes even further. It provides college students insights into the professions of pharmacy and dentistry as well as medicine and more.

More photos from STAHR Summer Scholars

“Our objective is to increase the diversity of applicants to each of the schools and of those who are going into each of the health care professions,” said Allan Davis, program coordinator. “We want to open up the options to undergrads so they can explore the programs, find what fits for them and what they’re interested in. We’re providing an experience to prepare students to come into these professional programs.”

Last October, the School of Medicine, in collaboration with the UMKC schools of Pharmacy and Dentistry, received a $3.2-million STAHR Partnership grant to help students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds enter and succeed in health profession degree programs. Part of that grant is supporting the new college Summer Scholars program.

Ten Kansas City residents attending college at UMKC, Johnson County Community College, Kansas State, Rockhurst, Metropolitan Community College, Haskell Indian Nations University, Donnelly College and Hampton University are participating in the STAHR Summer Scholars. Another group of 12 college students from across the country who are nearing completion of their undergraduate degree with plans to enter dental school are participating in a School of Dentistry program that includes a one-and-a-half-week component of Summer Scholars and its own eight-week online program.

Students spent the first week in a series of personal development workshops focused on things from how to write a resume and prepare for professional program entry exams to learning basic research skills.

As the program continues, the students will get an overview of the medicine and pharmacy professions through shadowing experiences at Truman Medical Center and the medical, pharmacy and dental schools, and hands-on experiences and spend time learning medical terminology.

They are also exposed to the School of Medicine’s graduate programs for physician assistants and anesthesiologist assistants.

“These students get an intense look at a day in the life of a health care provider as well as some clinical experiences,” Davis said.

For Byrd, it’s been an eye-opening experience.

“Hampton has a six-year pharmacy program and I discovered I could still see patients but it would be a different experience than being a physician,” she said. “I came back to ask more questions about the health care professions. Now, I’m learning about all the opportunities. I still want to continue in pharmacy, but going through this program is really opening my eyes to all the other professions like physician assistant and the anesthesiologist assistants.”

Jennifer Ramsey joins School of Medicine as STAHR program coordinator

Jennifer Ramsey
Jennifer Ramsey

Jennifer Ramsey recently joined the staff at the School of Medicine as coordinator of the school’s $3.2-million Students in Training, in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR) pipeline grant program. She will support the grant leadership team and the senior program coordinator once those positions are filled.

Ramsey is a certified health education specialist. As such she brings to her role excellent skills in program support and coordination, data management, and reporting on analysis results for reports and strategic decision making.

In addition, she has worked in higher education at the UMKC School of Dentistry, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, and in secondary health, math, and science education while living in Arizona.

Her office will be located between the dean suite and admissions. Her contact information is:  ramseyjm@umkc.edu and 816-235-6169.

The STAHR program is a two-pronged initiative to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering healthcare programs and better prepare them for success.

Harmony Gala supports scholarships for underrepresented minority students

Music and a festive atmosphere filled Pierson Auditorium in the UMKC Atterbruy Student Success Center  on Saturday night, Feb. 16, when nearly 200 people enjoyed the fifth annual UMKC Health Sciences Harmony Gala.

The event is sponsored by the UMKC Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council. It serves as a scholarship fundraiser to support underrepresented minority students enrolled in the UMKC health sciences schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy.

In addition to dinner and dancing, the event included a presentation of the 2019 Health Care Provider Diversity Awards. This year’s awards were presented to Children’s Mercy, the Sojourner Health Clinic, Saint Luke’s Health System and Truman Medical Centers.

The award acknowledges and honors health care professionals of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds for their outstanding commitment to provide health care to underserved populations in the Kansas City metro area.

Local Wall of Respect coming to UMKC campuses

The Wall of Respect, a 12-foot yurt representing the diversity of cultures in Kansas City, is coming to the UMKC Health Sciences campus Feb. 4-8.

Fifty-one years ago, a group of Chicago artists created a community mural called the Wall of Respect that revitalized the neighborhood in the city’s South Side. Last year, in the same spirit, Kansas City’s Jewish Community Center created its own Wall of Respect to celebrate the diversity of cultures in the community.

That project, a 12-foot yurt decorated by local artists, will be on display in the third-floor atrium of the UMKC Health Sciences Building for one week beginning Feb. 4. The following week, Feb. 11-15, the yurt will be set up at UMKC’s Student Union.

Wall of RespectA yurt is a circular tent typically made of felt or animal skins mounted on a collapsible frame. The local Wall of Respect project was decorated by artists representing the African American, Jewish, Asian American, Latinx/Hispanic and Native American cultures that enhance the diversity of Kansas City. Murals are painted inside and outside the yurt as well as on the roof.

Tamica Lige is chair of the Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council that is bringing Kansas City’s Wall of Respect to the university’s two campuses. The council is made up of representatives of the UMKC schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy, Children’s Mercy, Saint Luke’s Health System and Truman Medical Center.

“This is a good way for us to be involved with not only spreading the message of diversity, but also an appreciation of the arts,” Lige said. “It’s exciting that we can bring this community piece that represents diversity and inclusion in Kansas City to our campuses.”

Lige said cutout handprints will be available for visitors to decorate and hang inside the yurt to share their own ideas and stories of culture.

Jill Maidhof, director of the Jewish Community Center, will lead a walking tour and give a presentation on the yurt at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Health Sciences Building.

The yurt display is coming to UMKC as a leadup to the Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council’s annual Harmony Gala event on Feb. 16. The annual dance event is a scholarship fundraiser for underrepresented minority students at the health sciences schools. Registration is still available online at umkcalumni.com/harmonygala.

“This is the perfect time to bring the yurt to campus, in conjunction with the Harmony Gala,” Lige said. “It’s about diversity, it’s inclusion, it’s recognizing disparities and trying to address them. It’s a way to visually represent where we want to go in representing the various cultures of our community within our schools.”

Lige said this will be the first time the yurt has visited UMKC.

“It’s exciting to have it at both campuses,” she said. “We’re looking forward to sharing it with the Volker campus. The majority of what we do is focused on students here on the health sciences campus. This gives us an opportunity to serve the greater student population of UMKC and that’s really rewarding.”

Noted mental health expert to present 2019 Shannon Lectureship in Minority Health

Altha Stewart, M.D.

Mental health expert Altha J. Stewart, M.D., president of the American Psychiatric Association, will be the keynote speaker for the Dr. Reaner and Mr. Henry Shannon Lectureship in Minority Health on Feb. 22 at the School of Medicine.

She will speak on “Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Health Disparities: Implications for Children’s Mental Health and Well-being.”

Stewart has spent decades as chief executive officer and executive director of large public mental health systems in Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan. She currently serves at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center as associate professor and chief of social and community psychiatry. She is also director of the school’s Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth.

Before going to the University of Tennessee, Stewart was the executive director of a federally funded system of care program in Memphis  for children with serious emotional disorders and their families.

An experienced health care administrator and nationally recognized expert in public sector and minority issues in mental health care, Stewart also worked as executive director of the National Leadership Council on African-American Behavioral Health.

The annual Shannon Lectureship takes place each February to create awareness about health disparities. It has welcomed such distinguished national speakers as former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan, as well as noted local leaders in minority health.

School of Medicine welcomes new staff

Rachel McCommon, Allan Davis

The School of Medicine has recently welcomed two new staff members in the offices of Diversity and Inclusion, and Admissions.

Rachel McCommon is coordinator of diversity and strategic initiatives. She will focus on multicultural affairs to support student and resident success and strategic planning to support faculty and staff working with a diverse student population.

Allan Davis serves as coordinator of diversity programs and recruitment. He will coordinate the school’s high school pipeline programs, Summer Scholars and the Saturday Academy.

McCommon joins the School of Medicine with more than 10 years of experience addressing areas of multicultural programing, student success, recruitment and community outreach. Her efforts have also focused on issues that impact access to higher education for underrepresented K-12 students and supporting current college students.

McCommon graduated from Emporia State University with a degree in rehabilitation service education and a minor in leadership. She received her master’s degree in higher education administration from UMKC and previously worked in the university’s undergraduate admissions office as the multicultural recruiter. She also taught college prep and life-after-college classes at Alta Vista Charter High School in Kansas City.

She has been particularly involved in issues that impact the success of women and Latinx students. McCommon actively participates in Cuerpo de Areito, a Puerto Rican folkloric dance group to support and educate others on Puerto Rican culture and traditions.

McCommon said she is excited to add to the culture and environment of the School of Medicine and values the importance of supporting students with an open-door policy. She can be reached at 235-6251 or at mccommonr@umkc.edu.

Davis joins the School of Medicine with experience as a recruiter and instructor. A graduate of Brigham Young University with degrees in American studies and theater history, he also received a Ph.D. in theater and performance study from the University of Maryland with a research focus on whiteness in the United States.

He served as a course instructor for eight years at BYU, American University in Washington, D.C., and at Maryland, and has served as a recruiter for undergraduate and graduate programs. He also managed a living-learning community at the University of Maryland. After moving to Kansas City, Davis worked at the Office of Academic Affairs at the UMKC School of Pharmacy before joining the School of Medicine.

Dedicated to cultivating a diverse student body, Davis will lead the School of Medicine’s pipeline programs to provide enriching experiences for the next generation of medical professionals. He can be reached at 235-5434 or davisall@umkc.edu.

Local event promotes success for future underrepresented minority physicians

Future and current physicians participated in the annual Critical Mass Gathering event on Oct. 13 at the UMKC Student Union.

For more than a decade, underrepresented minority students in the Kansas City area eager for careers as physicians, have found encouragement at Critical Mass Gathering a free, day-long program to promote excellence and success in the field.

Underrepresented minority students at Kansas City’s three area medical schools, UMKC School of Medicine, University of Kansas School of Medicine and the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, and those in the greater Kansas City area interested in pursuing a career as a physician participated in the annual event on Oct. 13 at the UMKC Student Union.

This year’s program featured workshops such as strategies for medical students preparing to take medical licensing exams, scenarios of physicians in natural disaster and mass casualty events and one-on-one mentoring sessions with local physicians.

Following a dinner, students heard a panel discussion on financing tips, residency interview techniques, and preparing for boards. Stephen Odaibo, M.D., founder and CEO of RETINA-AI, a company using artificial intelligence to improve health care, gave an evening keynote address about the impact of artificial intelligence on the future of medicine.

“Critical Mass Gathering has been providing mentorship for 13 years, which is an essential component of successful matriculation,” said Nate Thomas, UMKC School of Medicine associate dean for diversity and inclusion.

Med school recognized for excellence in diversity, inclusion

The School of Medicine has been recognized by a national publication with a Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for its efforts in diversity.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine has received a 2018 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

The School of Medicine, renowned for its innovative six-year BA/MD program, is the only university program in Missouri and one of 10 medical schools in the country to be recognized. The award program is competitive each year; on average, 175 schools compete for the HEED honor annually.

“Our school is honored to receive the HEED Award,” said Mary Anne Jackson, interim dean. “Diversity and inclusion is top of mind in educating future physicians and health professionals because ultimately it means delivering the best patient care.”

As a recipient of the Health Professions HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing and allied health schools that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — UMKC School of Medicine will be featured, along with 34 other recipients, in the December 2018 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“We want people to see the UMKC School of Medicine as a place of best practices nationally and globally, and the HEED Award signifies one way we demonstrate our success,” said Nathan Thomas, associate dean of diversity and inclusion at the UMKC School of Medicine. “Our aim is to continue to attract outstanding diverse faculty, staff, residents and students to our university.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected the UMKC School of Medicine for several reasons:

  • Its decades-long successful high-school Summer Scholars and Saturday Academy pipeline programs
  • Students in Medicine, Academia, Research and Training (SMART) retention and graduation mentoring program
  • “Expect Respect” committee to address mistreatment issues and promote healthy work and learning environments

The School of Medicine recently received a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources to expand and enhance its pipeline and mentoring programs across the schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy.

In 2016, the UMKC School of Dentistry was one of three dental schools in the that won a HEED Award.

“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 magazine.  “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 accomplished every day across their campus.”