The School of Medicine has announced a number of new staff appointments and changes in the Office of Student Affairs at both the Health Sciences District campus and the St. Joseph campus.
On the Health Sciences District campus, Betsy Hendrick has been appointed as a senior education team coordinator.
Hendrick has served as ETC for the past year and a half with the Blue Unit and interim ETC for teams on the Purple and Green units. She also serves as the school’s immunization coordinator, facilitates the health disparities elective and assists with Match Day planning.
Also joining the Health Sciences team will be Nyia Duncan, who recently joined the St. Joseph staff as education team coordinator. Duncan will be transitioning to the Health Sciences District campus as an ETC in February. She is recent graduate of Ottawa University with a master’s degree in business administration and human resourses. At Ottawa, she served as a resident director and student affairs graduate assistant.
At the School of Medicine’s new St. Joseph campus, based at Mosaic Life Care, Hilary Yager will serve as program coordinator and administrative assistant. Alex Luke, M.D., joins the staff as academic initiatives specialist. Also, James Shackelford will serve as senior student recruitment specialist and coordinator of special initiatives
Yager is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and brings a broad occupational history that includes teaching, working therapeutically with students, and overseeing summer camps and events. She has worked to streamline connections between School of Medicine faculty, staff and students with Mosaic Life Care.
Luke received his bachelor’s degree from Missouri Western State University, then worked as a medical scribe in the emergency department at Mosaic before joining the UMKC School of Medicine’s M.D.-only program in 2017. He has held multiple tutoring and academic support roles during his undergraduate and medical careers, and will begin a residency in neurology in July.
Shackelford previously worked in the School of Medicine Deans Office as executive assistant to the dean before leaving the university to run for public office. A graduate of the UMKC Bloch School of Management, he has a master’s degree in public administration.
The School of Medicine has announced that Bridgette Jones, M.D., M.S., has joined the Office of Student Affairs in a new role of assistant academic dean.
In this position, Jones will work with students across all six years of the curriculum on matters pertaining to academic affairs. She will maintain regular office hours in both the Years 1 and 2 office on the Volker campus and in student affairs at the School of Medicine.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Jones to student affairs where her enthusiasm for student engagement and support will contribute to the enhancement of student services,” said Interim School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.
Jones holds a faculty appointment as an associate professor of pediatrics in the divisions of Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutic Innovation and Allergy/Asthma/Immunology at Children’s Mercy. A clinician scientist with a focus on therapeutics and interventions to improve the lives of children with allergic disease and asthma, she also serves as the associate program director for the Children’s Mercy Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology training program.
She is the inaugural chair of the Faculty and Trainee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the medical director of the Office of Equity and Diversity at Children’s Mercy. In that role, she develops and maintains a pipeline of diverse and successful trainees and physicians in medicine to ensure their career development. She has also been a national advocate for diversity and equity for women in medicine.
Jones was recently nominated for the American Medical Association Inspiration Award that recognizes physicians who have contributed to the achievements of women in medicine. She will be honored by the AMA Women Physician Section with the award during the AMA House of Delegates interim meeting in September during Women in Medicine Month.
Jones is active on a national leadership level as well. She currently serves as chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs, chair of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma Immunology Asthma and Cough Diagnosis and Treatment Committee, and serves as a member of the Food and Drug Administration Pediatric Advisory Committee.
She was appointed by the United States Secretary of Health to serve on the National Institutes of Health Task Force on Research Specific to Pregnant Women and Lactating Women. She has received funding through the National Institutes of Health and other extramural and intramural resources to support her work.
She is married to Rafiq Saad and is the mother of two daughters, Lola and Nora.
The School of Medicine has announced that Robert Riss, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, will serve as the next assistant dean for career advising.
In his new role at the School of Medicine, Riss will be responsible for oversight of all career advising services.
Riss is an associate director of medical student education and director of curriculum for the highly regarded pediatric clerkship at Children’s Mercy. His leadership in revising the pediatric clerkship curriculum using a scholarly approach and innovative facilitation of technology is cited as a reason for improved performance of students taking their NBME exams.
He has served on many leadership committees at UMKC and Childrens’ Mercy and currently serves as co-chair of the Medical Student Education Special Interest Group with the Academic Pediatric Association. He is also a faculty member of the association after recently completing the organization’s Educational Scholars Program.
Riss has received many awards for teaching and leadership including UMKC’s Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Award, as well as the Children’s Mercy Gold Apple Mercy Mentor Award and a faculty award for outstanding teaching support of student medical education.
He currently participates in educational research focusing on curriculum design, evaluation and implementation utilizing technology. He is an educational consultant on the NIH grant: SPeCTRE: The Sunflower Pediatric Clinical Trials Research Extension in which he is charged with designing a curriculum for primary care physicians to increase the research capacity for pediatrics in the state of Kansas.
Riss received his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine and completed his postdoctoral training as a pediatrics resident at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.
The School of Medicine recently welcomed two new Education Team Coordinators to the Office of Student Affairs staff.
Krisana West will serve as the New ETC for the Gold Unit and Nick Dean has joined the staff as ETC for the Purple Unit and the allied health students.
West joins the School of Medicine after 15 years at the University of Central Missouri as an advisor for teach education students. She and her husband, John, who also works near Hospital Hill are relocating from Warrensburg to Kansas City with two Siberian huskies and a rat terrier.
West said she looks forward to working with students, faculty and staff at the School of Medicine, exploring Kansas City’s many cultural activities and trying new restaurants.
In addition to working with medical students on the Purple Unit, Dean will also advise students in the Master of Science Anesthesia, Master of Science Bioinformatics, Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant and the Master of Science Health Professions Education programs. He has worked in higher education for the past five years as an academic coach and academic counselor at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, before that. He received a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Arkansas and a bachelor’s in history from Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia. He will be entering a Master of Library Science program at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, this winter.
A lover of documentaries, food, especially Thai and Chinese, and travel, Dean said his favorite place to visit has been Montreal, Canada. He hopes to make Quito, Ecuador, his next international trip. He moved to Kansas City with his husband, Thomas, and a cat.
More than 20 new medical schools have opened in the United States in the last 10 years, including a dozen in the past five years alone. And more are on the way.
As manager of the UMKC School of Medicine Office of Student Affairs, Cary Chelladurai understands some of the unique challenges student affairs leaders will face in establishing and maintaining their own departments.
Chelladurai has been working with the Association of American Medical Colleges since earlier this year, sharing its Professional Development Initiative program with other medical school student affairs associate deans, department managers and supervisors.
The AAMC is made of up of all 151 accredited medical schools in the United States and 17 in Canada. In 2016, the national organization’s Group on Student Affairs crafted the Professional Development Initiative to support its members’ student affairs offices.
After attending the AAMC’s first professional development workshop at a national meeting in 2016 and participating in subsequent webinars, Chelladurai implemented the program’s tools at the UMKC School of Medicine.
“We used them with restructuring our office,” said Chelladurai, who has served in her current position since 2012. “We’ve used them with rewriting job descriptions and, being short-staffed, deciding what duties are most important. It’s a framework and a tool that helps us figure that out so we don’t have to do it from scratch.”
Last February, the AAMC asked Chelladurai and a colleague at the University of Alabama to serve as subject matter experts on the program and present it to others at medical schools across the country. The two teamed up to present the material to about 30 student affairs leaders at the AAMC’s national conference in April.
They began offering a series of three online virtual classroom video conferences earlier this summer. The series provides interactive and collaborative discussions and personalized case studies that explore challenges that student affairs departments have faced. The first online video conference took place in July with following sessions slated for September and October.
The entire program highlights eight specific areas of focus for student affairs offices. It also provides a support network for making programs relative in a changing environment and to help student affairs professionals realize their own potential and career fulfillment.
“We’re talking to our colleagues across the country, telling them how we have personally used this program and giving them ideas about how they can use it at their own medical schools,” Chelladurai said. “It’s helpful to the new medical schools that haven’t developed their student affairs departments yet but they’re in their planning stages. They can use it to make sure they have someone covering all the areas of focus.”
It’s also beneficial to more established student affairs offices that are working to find new and better ways to serve their student populations.
“This information and the tools are free and they’re online, so even if a school can’t afford to send someone to a conference, they can benefit from these tools,” Chelladurai said. “That’s one of the good things about the virtual classroom series. They don’t have to travel. We’re teaching this to 25 of our colleagues across the country. They just need to tune in for a couple of hours three times and they’re getting the professional development instead of spending the money and time travelling to a conference.”
Nikki Collier, a former senior support assistant in the Office of Student Affairs, has been named the education team coordinator for the Red Unit.
Collier started her new role June 15. She replaced Gladys Zollar-Jones, who recently retired after a lengthy career of service at the School of Medicine.
Collier received a bachelor’s degree in fashion marketing and management from Stephens College. She worked at a property management company in Springfield, Missouri, while completing a master’s degree in mental health counseling at Missouri State University.
Collier joined UMKC as an administrative assistant in the Blue Unit in December 2014. She became senior office support assistant in the Gold Unit earlier this year.
Education team coordinators assist medical students with academic scheduling and degree requirements. They connect students with services and resources, act as student advocates and can serve as a liaison between the student and faculty members or docents.
An education team coordinator is provided to medical students in their first two years on the Volker campus. Students are assigned a new education team coordinator when they arrive at the Hospital Hill campus for Years 3-6.
Eight students from the School of Medicine took part in UMKC’s mid-year commencement ceremony on Dec. 19 at Swinney Recreation Center.
Seven students received their M.D. They were Chiazotam Ekekezie, Ehren Ekhause, Eric Roychowdhury, Vedica Sharma, Rana Singh, Ryan Stokes and Gretchen Woodfork . Greyson Twist received his Master of Science Bioinformatics degree.
The University’s combined mid-year commencement ceremony honors graduates from the Conservatory of Music and Dance, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, School of Biological Sciences, School of Computing and Engineering, School of Education, School of Law, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy and the School of Graduate Studies.
The School of Medicine will recognize its 2015 spring graduates on May 20 at the Kansas City Music Hall.
As apartment buildings go, this one was always intended to be more than just a roof, a view and an in-unit washer and dryer.
High expectations surrounded the construction of the first Hospital Hill Campus student housing project by the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The new structure is supposed to help draw the most talented future nurses, dentists, pharmacists and physicians to study and practice in Kansas City; stabilize an evolving neighborhood; stimulate spinoff development; promote increased student traffic between UMKC’s two campuses; and help break down a generations-old racial barrier.
State and city dignitaries, neighborhood leaders, university officials, faculty, staff and students gathered at the Hospital Hill Apartments for a grand opening celebration and delivered their verdict: Mission accomplished.
Developer Hugh Zimmer, one of the leaders of the Beacon Hill Development Corporation that built the project, summed up the group’s feelings about the realization of a long-held “dream” to restore a once-proud and stable middle-class neighborhood called Beacon Hill.
“Since the groundbreaking for this project, 12 additional new homes have been completed and 10 additional lots have been sold, and 28 additional lots will be available for sale in the next few months,” Zimmer said.
A healthy-food grocery sponsored by Truman Medical Centers and a boutique hotel are in the planning stages; and the apartments are filled with a diverse mix of bright, eager students – 60 percent of whom take all or most of their classes at the UMKC Volker Campus four miles away.
Vaishnaui Vaidyanathan, MS 3, moved into the new apartment complex in August and now serves as a resident assistant. Vaidyanathan said she appreciated the convenience of living near the medical school and hospital and for her classes and clinical rotations.
“I really like living here,” Vaidyanathan said. “Being close to my classes at the med school is really nice. I can study at the med school and if it’s late, I don’t have very far to go to get back to my room at night.”
She said she also likes the diversity of the student body in the apartments.
“I like the apartments not beacuse they’re new but because there are so many different people here,” she said. “My roommate is a pharmacy student, so there is interaction with a diverse group of students. I’ve already met so many different people.”
A procession of speakers representing a variety of stakeholders participated in a ribbon-tying ceremony, as opposed to a ribbon-cutting. UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton explained the symbolism.
“Today is all about tying things together. We’re tying city and state, campus and community, east side and west side, business and government,” Morton said. “This building is a statement about what we can accomplish when we come together.”
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander said the building is a key addition to a Hospital Hill district that is the epicenter of a growing industry vital to Kansas City’s future – health care.
“UMKC is one of the bedrocks of Kansas City. Everybody knows that,” Kander said. “This will help UMKC to attract and educate students who will work in that vital industry.”
Mayor Sly James added that the building is both “an exciting milestone for UMKC and for this entire community,” as well as an amenity that will help to attract and keep highly talented young people from around the region and country to Kansas City.
Juan Garcia, president of the UMKC Student Government Association, said completion of UMKC’s fourth student housing building represents an evolutionary change for the university’s student body.
“We have more students living on-campus or within walking distance in community rental housing, than ever before,” Garcia said.
“No longer is UMKC merely the school that recedes in your rear-view mirror after class, as you drive back to your other life. As students, we are making our home here, in great neighborhoods that are part of a great city – a city that many of us will continue to call home after graduation.”
Tim Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri System, said the building is an example of “leadership in action.”
“We are seeing the fruits of leadership from a city and a state, from a university and a private sector business partnership, and from a community that cares,” Wolfe said. “The Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, in particular, deserves credit for their leadership. The board insisted on market rate development agreements in order to spur additional development in the surrounding area. The result is progress in health, in economic development and in neighborhood renewal.”
Morton singled out Nikki Krawitz, the longtime vice president for finance and administration for the University of Missouri System.
“It was her leadership, determination and effort that made today possible. Thank you, Nikki,” Morton said. “I am proud to stand here with so many people who contributed to this project, and to be representing Kansas City’s university. Today we demonstrate the full meaning of that phrase. This is what it means to be Kansas City’s university.”
Rima Chakraborty, MS 6, wiped the tears from her eyes late Friday morning, March 21, after reading a letter from the National Resident Matching Program congratulating her on her on a successful match:
“University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minn.
Chakraborty then turned and embraced her husband, Neer Dutta, a student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.
“We both have family in Minnesota,” Chakraborty said as Dutta stood next to her with a bouquet of flowers.
The two have been married for almost a year. Dutta said he would be working hard to land a residency position near Minneapolis when it’s his turn to go through the match process two years from now.
“I was hoping to go to the University of Minnesota,” Chakraborty said. “I wanted to go some place that I love. I opened the letter and thought, ‘It’s someplace I love.’ I’m very happy right now.”
Throughout the courtyard in front of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, 83 members of the Class of 2014 shared the joys and excitement of Match Day with friends and family.
Just less than one-third of this year’s class will be staying in state for their residency training. Of the 27 students who matched to a residency in Missouri, 16 will be going into UMKC residency programs, including three in the pediatrics residency at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.
Internal medicine programs landed the largest number of UMKC students, with 22 headed to programs across the country — from Florida to Texas to California. Pediatrics and medicine-pediatrics had the next highest number of matches with 11. Overall, 36 students from the UMKC School of Medicine matched in a primary care field.
School of Medicine Dean Betty Drees, M.D., F.A.C.P., congratulated the class on a successful Match Day and shared how alumni continue to tell her how well students from School perform in their residencies.
“Please go forward with great confidence,” Drees said. “You are well prepared for these programs that you have matched to and will all do exceptionally well.”
Vikram Chakravarthy, MS 6, said Match Day is a time that students have long anticipated and called it a culmination of many years of hard work. Chakravarthy and Aakash Shah, MS 6, thanked Felix Oka, M.D., assistant dean for career advising, and Connie Beachler, career counselor, for their support and help throughout the match process on behalf of the class.
“We would not be here today had it not been for these two individuals,” Shah said. “As the Class of 2014, we know that it’s your jobs, that you do year in and year out. But from the bottom of our hearts, this is what makes UMKC family. These are the people that go above and beyond their jobs to help us reach our dreams and aspirations.”
Kevin Xiao, MS 4, enjoys working with his hands. As an aspiring doctor, Xia found the idea of cardiothoracic surgery equally to his liking during his second-year human structure function class and spent time doing research and shadowing Keith Allen, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Saint Luke’s Hospital.
“The first time scrubbing in on an open heart procedure was nothing short of magical,” Xiao.
Xiao took that interest a step further earlier this year when the Society of Thoracic Surgeons awarded him a “2014 Looking to the Future Scholarship” to attend its national program in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 25-28.
The conference offered selected medical students an introduction into the field with presentations from current cardiothoracic surgeons on innovations in the field, misperceptions and stereotypes surrounding cardiothoracic surgery and the various training pathways to becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.
“I think one thing that was emphasized was to have a great attitude and work hard in every one of your clinical rotations. Cardiothoracic surgery is a field that is extremely demanding and hard working. There are very few integrated 6-year programs around the country right now and the match rate is less than 50% for those spots, so grades and Step 1 score are very important,” Xiao said.