The 2020 issue the UMKC School of Medicine publication, Human Factor, is now available online. Human Factor celebrates the connection between art, humanities and the practice of medicine.
The publication showcases the creativity, imagination and talent of our students, alumni, residents, faculty and staff. All of the printed words and images featured in this publication make the important link between an appreciation of art and compassionate patient care — illustrating the significant role of medical humanities.
This year’s issue features poetry, short stories, photos, drawings and and other original artwork including the cover image created by fifth-year medical student Rachana Kombathula.
Watch for a call for submissions to the 2021 edition of the Human Factor early next next fall.
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.
A Valentine’s Day visit from a group of nearly a dozen UMKC School of Medicine students brought smiles, and often tears, to patients at Truman Medical Center on Thursday, Feb. 14.
The fifth and sixth-year medical students are members of the school’s Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). They and their faculty advisor, Carol Stanford, M.D., professor of medicine a School of Medicine docent, spent a portion of their morning presenting roses and Valentine’s cards to throughout the hospital.
“This is one of the few times of the year where we stop what we’re doing and just take some time to appreciate the patients,” said sixth-year med student Ami Purohit, a member of the GHHS.
For a number of years now, Stanford and her honor society students have delivered roses and cards to patients on Valentine’s Day as part of the GHHS Solidarity Week for Compassionate Patient Care.
Deven Bhatia, president of UMKC’s GHHS chapter, said the organization purchased 250 roses. Earlier in the week, the students invited others throughout the med school to join them in creating more than 200 hand-made Valentine’s cards.
This was Purohit’s second year to join Stanford and her GHHS classmates on their Valentine’s Day rounds. She said she found the experience rewarding.
“A lot of times our patients are sick and they may or may not have family members coming to see them,” she said. “When you give them their rose and Valentine’s card, I think they feel that the love is mutual and we are here to take care of them. We want to treat them like people and not just a patient room number. They appreciate that.”
Many patients responded with more than smiles. They broke down in tears as members of the group delivered a rose, a card and encouraging words, “Get well soon.”
“They were crying,” Purohit said. “You can see how touched they feel when we hand them a rose and a card. That’s what has made this tradition last. I think it’s going to be around for a long time, just knowing the impact it has on our patients.”
Last year, the School of Medicine received the Gold Humanism Honor Society’s Distinguished Chapter of the Year award. The honor recognizes the chapter’s impact, leadership, service activities and humanistic learning environment.
Stanford said the chapter received the award for its program excellence, which included a national “Thank A Resident Day” that started just two years ago at UMKC.
The GHHS has 150 chapters in medical schools and nearly a dozen residency programs throughout the United States.
At the Penn State College of Medicine, Michael Green, M.D., a physician and bioethicist at Penn State University’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, uses the medium of comics to help medical students share their experiences of medical school.
Each year, Green, who is also the vice chair of the Department of Humanities, offers a seminar-style class in which students are encouraged to create their own comic book to describe their time in medical school.
Green presented the 23rd William T. Sirridge, M.D., Medical Humanities Lecture on Thursday, March 16, at the UMKC School of Medicine. He described how comics have become mainstream in today’s culture. He said today’s comic strips and entire comic books touch on almost every topic in all genres.
“So it’s not surprising then that there would be some comics that have some relevance to medical education as well,” Green said.
That has led Green to offer a four-week course in Graphic Medicine, an Intersection of Comics and Medicine. And while a large number of his students’ comics describe and depict good experiences as medical students, one serious theme has surfaced: medical students being mistreated by their superiors.
Such experiences are supported by data from the Journal of the America Medical Association, which found that nearly four out of every 10 students surveyed say they have experienced mistreatment in medical school. Only half say they report it, out of fear of retribution.
According to Green, these numbers have remained consistent in surveys taken throughout the past five or six years. And the data is relevant, he said, because it goes on to show that those who experience mistreatment as medical students have twice the rate of burnout as other medical students.
“It is something we should care about and think about,” he said.
Nearly one-third of all kindergartners in the United States begin school without the basic language skills necessary to learn to read. The Medical Humanities Interest Group at the School of Medicine is doing its part to help change that with a book drive through July 10.
The student group will be collecting new and gently used children’s books to donate to area clinics and doctors’ offices. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement recommending that parents and caregivers should read to children from birth to 5 years old.
Books will be collected in a donation box on the first floor of the medical school near the elevators. Books may also be dropped off in the Humanities Department office, room M4-C03D.
Physician and author Patrick Taylor, M.D., discussed his career in medicine and as a writer during the School of Medicine’s first Noback-Burton Lecture on April 28.
The new lectureship was endowed by James Riscoe, M.D. ’75, a member of the school’s third graduating class. Riscoe said he started the event to honor Richardson K. Noback, M.D., the first dean of the School of Medicine, and Jerry Burton, M.D. ’73, a classmate who is recognized as the first graduate of the medical school.
Riscoe said he chose Taylor as the inaugural speaker because the author is his favorite writer after Mark Twain.
“I don’t care if it is art, or poetry, or architecture, or exploring the Amazon,” Riscoe said. “I want this lectureship to be about what doctors do outside of medicine. I think (Taylor) is a living example of what you can do.”
Taylor joked with the audience of faculty, staff and students. “I have had a checked career,” he said, “which means I can’t hold a job for very long.”
In reality, Taylor earned his medical degree in Belfast and practiced in rural Northern Ireland before specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. In 1970, he and his family immigrated to Canada where he pursued a teaching and research career in human infertility. He has received three lifetime achievement awards for his work, including the Lifetime Award of Excellence from the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society.
Taylor has written six textbooks and 170 scientific papers, and was editor-in-chief of the Canadian Obstetrics and Gynecology journal for 10 years.
He began writing monthly medical humor columns in 1991 and became a book reviewer for Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humor. His series of Irish Country novels revolve around Fingal O’Reilly, an Irish country doctor practicing in Ballybucklebo, a fictitious Northern Ireland locale. The 11th book in the series is due for release in October. He has also written fiction novels about the Irish Republican Army during the late 20th Century Northern Ireland conflict, known as The Troubles.
Taylor read snippets of his writings and talked about medicine in the 1930s, when his character, O’Reilly, practiced. He said that more than the science of medicine, doctors at the time practiced the art of medicine with a personal touch. Taylor said if he had a message for medical students today, it would be to have fun.
“I hope your faculty of humanities will help you have a personal touch,” he said.
Art has long been a tool used to enhance one’s understanding of the science of medicine at the UMKC School of Medicine. Stuart Munro, M.D., adjunct professor of medical humanities and bioethics, discussed how a balance of the two makes for a more effective physician.
Munro was the keynote speaker on Thursday, March 24, for the 22nd annual William T. Sirridge, M.D., Medical Humanities Lecture.
Patrick Sirridge, one of Sirridge’s four children, opened the lecture with a brief photo history of his father during his time as a physician and docent at the School of Medicine. William Sirridge and his wife, Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., served as two of the school’s founding docents. Their fondness for the arts and literature led the couple to establish the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities. The office is now part of the school’s Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics that was created in 2013.
Munro, a long-time faculty member at the School of Medicine, served as inaugural chair of the department. He explained that in the early years of the school’s history, docents instructed students in not only the clinical skills of medicine, but also taught the basic science classes.
“And I’m sure that Bill and Marjorie managed to sneak in some humanities along the way,” he said.
Blending the various arts that are part of the school’s humanities curriculum with the science of medicine enables physicians to see their patients in a different light and with a fuller understanding, Munro said. He said it also helps them to grow their body of medical knowledge, while achieving greater satisfaction in their careers and personal lives.
Medicine demands a balance of the two, Munro said.
“Science is important, but it’s not enough,” he said. “The humanities are important, but they’re not enough. Science and the humanities, we have to find the middle ground.”
Munro joined the School of Medicine in 1985 as an assistant professor of psychiatry. He served as chair of psychiatry at the School of Medicine for nearly 12 years, and currently is course director for behavioral science and for the humanities course in music and medicine.
“Students are as creative and as eager to find their humanity as ever,” he said. “If we can help them do it, then I don’t feel pessimistic about the future of medicine.”
Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D. ’79, says he was struck by the concept of mercy as a young medical student just getting started at the School of Medicine. The notion of compassion toward others continued to develop further throughout his medical school career by following the lead of the school’s docents, who modeled for students a compassionate style of care.
Today, Hall-Flavin shares those same characteristics of mercy and compassion with his patients and others as an associate professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Hall-Flavin spoke on the Quality of Mercy in delivering the annual William T. Sirridge, M.D., Medical Humanities Lecture on Thursday, March 25, at the School of Medicine.
His talk explored the meaning of mercy and its role in our traditions, the spiritual domain and in its relationship to justice. He also shared how William Sirridge and his wife, Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., who served as Hall-Flavin’s docent, taught medical students how to treat their patients with empathy.
“He and Dr. Marjorie, along with other founding faculty, set the bar for docents for this medical school then, now and always for the future,” Hall-Flavin said.
Hall-Flavin said that William Sirridge often shared stories of medicine and caring for patients that filled his students with confidence and good humor.
“It was like being around a medical camp fire,” Hall-Flavin said.
The day turned out to be an extra special affair for Hall-Flavin. Prior to giving this year’s medical humanities lecture, Hall-Flavin received word that he was selected to take part in a master’s program in medical humanities at the King’s College in London. He has been a visitor at the center for neuroethics at the University of Oxford and is currently a member of the Oxford Round Table, an organization that promotes education, art, science, religion and charity through academic conferences and scholarly papers.
Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D. ’79, associate professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, will present the William T. Sirridge Medical Humanities Lecture at the School of Medicine at noon Thursday, March 26.
Reached by phone at the Mayo Clinic, Hall-Flavin said he planned to speak about the search for and meaning of mercy. He titled his lecture The Quality of Mercy, a nod to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Hall-Flavin said he vividly recalls being a candidate for the B.A./M.D. program and seeing the famous passage from the play (“The quality of mercy is not strain’d/It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven”) inscribed above the entrance to General Hospital No. 1.
“I remember at 17 looking at that and just stopping,” he said. “It just grabbed me. It was something that I’ve thought about frequently since then.”
Preserved when the hospital was torn down, the frieze stands outside Truman Medical Center. Hall-Flavin said the marker is more than a vestige to a building that that no longer exists. “I think it’s really kind of a daily reminder to everybody who walks through those portals of what a critical role mercy and all that it carries with it plays in our daily practice,” he says.
After graduating from UMKC, Hall-Flavin interned in internal medicine and trained in adult psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic. He completed a fellowship in chemical dependency at Cornell University. Board-certified in addiction psychiatry, he is involved in research that seeks to identify factors, including genetic factors, which render an individual susceptible to addiction and relapse. He also studies responsivity to antidepressant medication.
Hall-Flavin said he is at a point in his career where he is able to begin to cut back on his duties at the Mayo Clinic. He hopes to use the extra time to pursue his interests in the medical humanities and bioethics. He recently applied to a master’s program in the medical humanities at King’s College in London. A frequent traveler to England, Hall-Flavin has been a visitor at a center for neuroethics at the University of Oxford and is a member of the Oxford Round Table, an American-led educational organization.
Hall-Flavin said his interests in the medical humanities and bioethics are “a natural extension of how I was trained.” His docent was the late Marjorie Sirridge, M.D. Sirridge and her husband, William Sirridge, M.D., who died in 2007, worked to increase the opportunities for UMKC students to study humanities and bioethics and eventually established the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics. The William T. Sirridge, M.D., Medical Humanities Lectureship was established in 1994.
Hall-Flavin said he met with Marjorie Sirridge in early 2014, a few months before she died. “She asked me to consider doing the lecture,” Hall-Flavin said. “I said it would be an honor.”