Tag Archives: Students

Faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends receive discount on Hospital Hill Run registration

UMKC will be part of a grand tradition on June 3 when Kansas City celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Hospital Hill Run.

The UMKC School of Medicine, UMKC Health Sciences District, and University Health all serve as co-sponsors Kansas City’s oldest road race. With the sponsorship, UMKC faculty, staff, students, alumni can receive a 20 percent discount when they REGISTER using this code: UMKCSOM23. For younger participants, K-12 registration is offered as well.

Today, the Hospital Hill Run is one of region’s premiere running events and includes a 5K Run, a 10K run and a half marathon. More than 170,000 runners of all levels, from Olympic athletes to weekend warriors, and from throughout the world have participated in the event that takes place each June.

The UMKC School of Medicine was only few years old when the school’s founder, E. Grey Dimond, M.D., launched a running event in 1974 to coincide with a postgraduate course dealing with health and physical fitness. That event would become the Hospital Hill Run.

During those early years, the 13-mile half marathon route took runners by many of the hospitals affiliated with the School of Medicine: Truman Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Menorah Medical Center, Research Medical Center, Baptist Medical Center, Saint Luke’s Hospital, Trinity Lutheran Hospital, Trinity Lutheran, and St. Mary’s Medical Center.

As it did then, the race still begins and ends in front of Kansas City’s Crown Center.

In his biography, “Take Wing! Interesting Things that Happened on My Way to School,” Dimond wrote that, “Near the beginning of their route, the runners came up a long slope, immediately by Diastole. For many years, it gave me a surge of happiness to stand on the southwest corner of 25th and Holmes and see the thousands of men and women go by, many calling out a greeting.”

Visit the Hospital Hill Run website for more details.

Class of 2023 urged to ‘change the world’ in School of Medicine hooding ceremony

School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson (M.D. ’78) encouraged the graduates of the Class of 2023 to be grateful, remain humble and have courage in the next step of their journey as health care professionals. Jackson spoke to more than 180 students participating in school’s annual hooding ceremony.

The May 12 ceremony at Swinney Center recognized 110 doctor of medicine graduates, as well as those earning their master’s and doctorate degrees and graduate certificates in the anesthesia assistant, bioinformatics, health professions education and physician assistant programs.

Jackson congratulated the graduates and told them that their experience at the School of Medicine has prepared them well to care for the patients they will see in the future.

“More than ever, the world needs you. Go out and change the world,” Jackson said. “We are so proud of you, Class of 2023.”

Graduates and their family and friends in attendance also heard from Richard Barohn (M.D. `80), the school’s 2023 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award recipient. Barohn currently serves as the executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Missouri and dean of the University of Missouri School of Medicine.

“I have learned that each time you get elevated to the next level of training or a new career trajectory, it will seem that the next year will be the most difficult work year of your life,” Barohn said. “It’s hard work, but it will be the most fulfilling work that you will do. You will be able to go to work every day knowing that you can make the world a better place because of your skill, your knowledge and your compassion.”

The School of Medicine also recognized 30 students with the school’s annual senior awards. Students and their awards include:

  • Sumaiya Alam | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Harinee Arunachalam | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Anissa C. Bernardez | Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Memorial Award for Excellence in Microbiology; J. Michael De Ungria, M.D., Humanitarian Award
  • Noah Paul Brown | UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Endowment Fund: Outstanding Senior Partner
  • Jordan J. Frankow | Merck Manual
  • Erin Kathleen Galakatos | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Jordan I. Grimmett | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Sydney M. Habert | Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence
  • Roxanna Hamidpour | Merck Manual; Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Siddhanth Sudhir Hegde | Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Basic Science Award
  • Jordan Henry Held | Ratilal S. Shah Medical Scholarship Fund; Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Faith Marie Kapp | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Sahithi Katragadda | Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence
  • Yen T. Luu | Lee Langley Award for Academic Excellence; Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation; Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Award for Research Mahnoor
  • Farhan Malik | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Camryn Joan Maloney | Bette W. Hamilton Memorial Award for Excellence in Immunology
  • Madhavi C. Murali | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Francesca Moisson | Laura L Backus Award for Excellence in Pediatrics; Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Christy N. Nwankwo | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Joseph O’Brien | Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award
  • Molly Pasque | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Shaan Prakash Patel | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Alyssa Nicole Rivera | M.S. Anesthesia Student Ambassador Award
  • Carston Roach | Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Memorial Award for Excellence in Pathology
  • Tariq Said | Pat D. Do, M.D., Matching Scholarship in Orthopaedics
  • Neal D. Shah | ACP Senior Student Book Award; Richardson K. Noback Founders’ Award for Clinical Excellence
  • Turquoise N. Templeton | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Sophi A. Thurman | James F. Stanford, M.D., Patient Advocate Scholarship
  • Kevin J. Varghese | UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Endowment Fund: Excellence in Medical Education
  • Carolyn Lucy Yoakum | Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Harry S. Jonas, M.D., Award


School of Medicine honors 2023 Take Wing Award recipient, Richard Barohn, M.D.

School of Medicine honors 2023 Take Wing Award recipient, Richard Barohn, M.D.

Richard Barohn (M.D. `80) was a 17-year-old high school senior when he was accepted to the UMKC School of Medicine, still in its infancy at the time.

“I really do believe that being accepted into the UMKC School of Medicine is like winning the lottery,” Barohn said. “And I believe I won the lottery very early in life. Then it was up to me come through and take advantage of that opportunity.”

His time at the School of Medicine has served the 2023 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award honoree well, leading to a 20-year military career serving in the U.S. Air Force and becoming a recognized leader and research scientist in neurology and neuromuscular research. Following a stop at the University of Texas Southwestern, where he dove deep into his research interest, he spent another 20 years at the University of Kansas Medical Center, leading the neurology department as well as a team that developed Frontiers, a clinical and translational science institute that includes UMKC as one of its partners.

Today, he serves as the executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Missouri and dean of the University of Missouri School of Medicine, with oversight of the university’s entire health care and medical education system.

In his May 12 Take Wing address to students, faculty, friends and colleagues, Barohn discussed his own career path and provided advice for younger physicians, outlining the career paths available to them.

“So now you’ve finished medical school, you’ve finished your residency, you’ve finished your fellowship, what the heck do you do next?” he said.

Barohn offered an outline of career options, from clinical practice to teaching, research and academic administration. Each have been a part of his career, and Barohn said the foundation for that career was laid during his time at the School of Medicine.

“Perhaps I have used my lottery ticket to become a successful physician and, in my case, a successful academic leader, teacher and researcher and more recently an academic administrator,” he said.

Lt. Cmd. Catherine Olguin of the U.S. Public Health Service presents 2023 School of Medicine graduate Jada Ohene-Agyei with an Excellence in Public Health Award.

Just prior to the Take Wing presentation, Jada Ohene-Agyei, a fifth-year student, received the 2023 Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee.

The national award, presented to Ohene-Agyei by Lt. Cmd. Catherine Olguin of the U.S. Public Health Service, recognizes medical students who help address public health issues in their community and protect, promote and advance the health and safety of our nation.

Ohene-Agyi has been active in many volunteer programs and organizations, serving as a leader with the student chapter of the American Medical Association and as president of the local Student National Medical Association chapter. Last summer, she led a team of nearly 70 student and faculty volunteers from UMKC’s health sciences schools in a one-day community health and wellness fair at the Kansas City Health Department.

Sophie Bernstein, a fifth-year medical student, received the award in 2022.


Commitment to quality of care and patient safety takes the spotlight

Mamta Reddy, Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair of Patient Safety, with some of the 2022-23 QIPS Faculty Scholars Kevin O’Rourke, Valerica Mateescu, Kevin Gray, Majdi Hamarshi, Alicia Daggett and Geetha Kamath.

Betty Drees, M.D., was just a few years into her term as dean of the UMKC School of Medicine in 2007 when Vijay Babu Rayudu, one of her medical students, died unexpectedly.

“This was very much a life-changing event for many people,” Drees said, during the school’s 10th annual Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day on May 5.

Today, the event Drees was instrumental in establishing highlights the school’s commitment to improving the quality of care and patient safety. Each year, medical students, residents and fellows present research conducted throughout the year focused on the topic of quality and patient safety.

During a morning session of the event, 49 poster presentations were made to a panels of judges that selected the top two student posters and the top two resident/fellow posters. Medical students Paige Eichhoff and Sydney Edson, resident Ramy Ghaly, M.D., and fellow Anna Nelson, M.D, received the top poster awards.

A record 58 abstracts were submitted on various topics related to the quality and patient safety, 36 of those from medical students. A panel of 30 judges also selected the top two student and top two resident/fellow presentations that were given as oral presentations during the afternoon session of the event. Medical students Madeline Glodowski and Mallika Joshi, resident Fouad Jaber, MD and fellow Edward Lyon, DO, received the top abstract awards.

Julie Banderas, right, receives the Faculty Mentor award from Betty Drees.

In addition, Julie Banderas, Pharm.D., assistant dean for graduate studies and allied health, was presented with a Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. Drees also received special recognition with a Quality and Patient Safety Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sanjay Saint, M.D., MPH, chief of medicine at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the George Dock Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Saint, gave the day’s keynote address focused on implementing change to enhance patient safety.

“When I was in training, we would just tolerate those things that we couldn’t change,” he said. “Now, I think we’ve got an army of people out there who are going to change the things we can no longer tolerate.”

Patient safety, implementation science, and medical decision-making make up a large part of Saint’s research efforts. He has written nearly 350 peer-reviewed papers, more than 110 of those appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, The Lancet or the Annals of Internal Medicine. He is also a special correspondent to the New England Journal of Medicine and an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Association of American Physicians (AAP).

In 2011, members of the Rayudu family gave a gift of $500,000 to establish a Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair of Patient Safety. Mamta Reddy, M.D., currently serves the school in that role. Two years later, the School of Medicine conducted its first Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day.

“To see what’s going on today makes me feel really proud to be here at UMKC,” Drees said.

To see a list of all the presentations given at this year’s event, go to the school’s Quality Improvement/Patient Safety page.

Alpha Omega Alpha honor society welcomes 2023 inductees

The School of Medicine welcomed 21 students and one medical resident as new members of its Missouri Delta Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society on May 10 during a celebration at Diastole.

Members are selected based on character and values such as honesty, honorable conduct, morality, virtue, unselfishness, ethical ideals, dedication to serving others, and leadership. Selection to AOA memberships is an honor that recognizes one’s excellence in academic scholarship and the highest ideals of professionalism in medicine.

Last fall, 15 senior members, those graduating this year, were selected for induction to the honor society. They include Sumalya Alam, Anissa Bernardez, Noah Brown, Patricia Carey, Annahita Fotouhi, Jordan Frankow, Herschel Gupta, Siddhanth Hegde, Jordan Held, Sahithi Katragadda, Camryn Maloney, Asha Nanda, Molly Pasque, Shil Shah and Arjun Rao.

Four junior members and two more senior members were chosen this spring for induction. Junior class inductees include Victoria Cegielski, Karishma Kondapalli, Nabeel Rasheed and Victoria Shi. Jourdan Brandon and Emily Gharabegi were the senior class inductees.

Reuben de Almeida, M.D., an internal medicine physician, was the resident inductee.

This year’s AOA student officers were Neal Shah, president, Joe Bean, vice-president, Kevin Varghese, secretary, and Sid Ramesh, treasurer.

Catherine Spong, M.D., ’91, delivered the annual AOA lecture on May 11. Spong serves as professor and the Paul C. MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She began her career with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institutes of Health, serving in numerous roles including director of extramural research.

Speaking to students and faculty, Spong talked about how to leverage one’s research opportunities.

“What I want you to do is think about the big questions, the untouched areas and the clinical questions that you face,” Spong said.

Ultimately, she encouraged each one to have a passion and love for what they do.

“Bring passion to what you do because it makes it so fun,” she said. “It makes it easier to be creative. It makes you more motivated and also makes everyone around you more creative.”

More than 4,000 students, residents/fellows, faculty and medical school alumni are elected to the AOA each year with nearly 200,000 members elected to the society since it began in 1902.

UMKC students put research efforts on display at Health Sciences Research Summit

Sayra Nieto Gomez, fifth-year medical student, presents her poster at the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

The idea of seeking out a mentor and embarking on a research project was a somewhat frightening experience for Sayra Nieto Gomez when she got started.

But with the support of a program for students underrepresented in the health professions and a willing faculty mentor, the fifth-year UMKC School of Medicine student was one of nearly 70 students who presented a research project at the 2023 UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

The event took place on March 22 at the Children’s Mercy Kansas City Research Institute, returning the summit UMKC’s Health Sciences Campus after being held at the Student Union on the UMKC Volker Campus for the past several years.

The annual summit provides an avenue for health sciences students to display their research, while also fostering collaborations across disciplines and schools that will provide  economic, health, education and quality-of-life benefits for the community.

Students from the schools of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, education, computing and engineering and psychological sciences presented posters that displayed a vast array of research on medical science topics to community health programs.

Faculty members from the health sciences schools judged and scored the presentations based on overall quality and aspects of the presentations, including the research hypothesis, background, methodology and conclusions. The top three scores were announced in three categories: overall, graduate students (residents, post-doc, fellows), and undergraduate students.

Nieto Gomez’s presentation placed second in the overall division. She worked with her mentor, Karl Kador, Ph.D., a scientist at the School of Medicine who focuses on retinal research, to produce an abstract that looked at how early stage retinal ganglion cells are formed.

“Hopefully we can take this information and one day apply it to find cures for blindness,” she said.

Medical student Josephine Nwankwo gave the top-scoring poster presentation at the UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

School of Medicine student Josephine Nwankwo had the top-scoring presentation in the overall division, while medical student Keerti Ivaturi had the top poster presentation in the undergraduate division and pharmacy resident Rachel Askew earned the top score in the graduate division.

Nieto Gomez is member of STAHR (Student Training in Academia, Health, and Research), a collaborative of the UMKC schools of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy designed to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs and better prepare them for success academically and professionally.

She said participating in the STAHR program and meeting with other underrepresented minority students provided her with the encouragement she needed to embark on a research project.

“The conversations we had in the STAHR program with other students, and hearing about how they were doing research and how they got involved helped,” she said. “It made me feel that if I can see other students in the program doing research, then I can do it.”

UMKC pharmacy resident Kristen Mize gives her poster presentation.

Kristen Mize, Pharm.D., a UMKC pharmacy resident who works with ambulatory care patients at a KC CARE Health Center clinic, was another student who presented a poster at the Research Summit. Hers described her efforts to provide early, preventive eye exams for patients with diabetes.

Mize explained how she is trained to perform simple eye exams using a retina imaging machine to look for early signs of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of adult blindness and vision loss. It occurs when a diabetic’s blood sugar level rises too high, causing small blood vessels in the retina to break and leak blood or fluid into the eye, damaging the retina.

The project also looked at the effect her service has had on patients keeping current on eye exams.

“The purpose is to catch things early before the patient knows they have that issue,” Mize said of the exam.

Mize also planned to present her poster at a pharmacy conference later in the week with a broader message for pharmacists and other health care providers.

“For pharmacists, I want to show that we can do this,” she said. “I got trained on this machine and I’m the only person at KC CARE offering the exam right now. Next month I’m going to be training nurse practitioners, and they’ll be able to do it. Our message to those who aren’t ophthalmologists is, you can make a difference in this, too.”

2023 UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit
Top Scoring Posters and Presentations

  • 1st Place – Josephine Nwankwo, School of Medicine: Relationship between SES and Utilization of a Hospital Based Food Pantry
  • 2nd Place – Sayra Nieto Gomez, School of Medicine: Early Stage Retinal Ganglion Cells Have Increased Axon Growth
    Mentor: Dr. Karl Kador
  • 3rd Place – Vijay Dimri, Shruti Mishra, Mauli Patel, School of Medicine: Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome in a Trauma Patient with Multiple Gunshot Wounds
    Mentor: Dr. Binod Wagle

Undergraduate Posters

  • 1st Place – Keerti Ivaturi, School of Medicine: Effects of Placenta Glucocorticoid Receptor Knockout on Gene Expression and Fetal Survival
    Mentor: Dr. Dave Bridges
  • 2nd Place – Samuel Brown, School of Medicine: Pericyte Recruitment and von Willebrand Factor Expression are Associated with Blood-Brain Barrier Tight Junction Formation During Embryonic Development in Mice
    Mentor: Dr. Nihar Nayak
  • 3rd Place – Paris Yates, School of Medicine: Is Ciclesonide a safer glucocorticoid alternative  in the developing brain for  preterm birth?
    Mentor: Dr. Paula Monaghan-Nichols

Graduate Posters

  • 1st Place – Rachel Askew, School of Pharmacy: Impact of pharmacist-led intervention of dispensing naloxone to an at risk of overdose patient population
    Mentor: Dr. Yifei Liu
  • 2nd Place – Dr. Soumya Rao, School of Dentistry:  Loss of Function Mutations in SF3B2, A Regulator of mRNA Splicing, as a Cause of Oculo-Auriculo-Vertebral Spectrum
    Mentor: Dr. Timothy Cox
  • 3rd Place – Roland Klar, School of Dentistry: 3D printed multi-gradient microsphere scaffolds for guided osteochondral tissue engineering
    Mentor: Dr. Stefan Lohfeld

UMKC Medical Students Celebrate Match Day

Stories of an untraditional medical student and two siblings who fulfilled their dream
UMKC medical students and siblings Sumiya and Mozammil Alam celebrated MatchDay with family and friends.

Tears flowed down his cheeks as UMKC medical student Keith Loftin embraced his wife on Match Day inside the UMKC Student Union, holding a letter in his hands that spelled out the next four years of their lives. His misty-eyed parents looked on as well as he read the news.

Loftin had matched in a residency position at Samaritan Health Services in Corvallis, Oregon, where he will enter his preferred specialty of psychiatry.

Match Day 2023 Results

“It’s amazing to be here with all these people who have supported me, all the people who care about me,” Loftin said. “It’s all kind of surreal right now.”

Loftin was one of the 112 members of the UMKC School of Medicine class of 2023 that participated this year’s National Resident Matching Program. Like many in the class, he was elated at receiving his first choice of residency positions.

“I found psychiatry and realized how much I connected with it and how much I loved working with my patients and decided this is where I need to be,” Loftin said. “It felt like this is where I belonged.”

His journey to becoming a physician, however, took a different path than the rest of his classmates, most of whom are half his age.

Keith Loftin and his family
UMKC medical student Keith Loftin celebrated his match in psychiatry with his wife and children.

Prior to moving with his wife and two children to Kansas City and entering medical school, Loftin was a high school science teacher in Jefferson City, Missouri. Before that, he spent nearly seven years in the Army working on Chinook helicopters, then returned to school to earn a master’s degree in education. All the while, Loftin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and science at the University of Missouri before joining the Army, said he harbored a hidden desire to become a doctor.

“I was teaching a class for high school students who wanted to enter health care and they kept asking me why I hadn’t gone to medical school,” he said. “After about the 100th conversation my wife and I had about it, she finally said you know what you need to do and that started the ball rolling.”

With the backing of his wife, and while still teaching his high school classes, Loftin began the tedious process of studying for the MCAT exam and preparing to become a full-time student again for the first time in nearly 17 years.

“Medical school was a challenge, but doable,” he said. “I faced a lot of personal challenges.”

During his time as a medical student, Loftin underwent multiple surgeries for back injuries from his time in the Army and helped his wife through the loss of her mother. His efforts paid off on Friday. Loftin applied for residency positions in psychiatry at hospitals across the country from Oregon to Florida, knowing the day would come when he would have to move his wife, a 17-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son again.

“It’s a little tough,” he said. “It’s not so bad for me. I moved six times to different duty stations when I was in the Army. It’s going to have its challenges, moving my family, but I know my son is excited about it.”

Brother and sister

While Loftin celebrated with his family, Mozammil and Sumaiya Alam were enjoying the day with family and friends as well. The brother and sister from Kansas City, Missouri, had the unique experience of going through Match together.

Mozammil received his desired match in neurology and will be headed to the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. Sumaiya matched in internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

“I’m going to Atlanta,” Sumaiya screamed. “ I started crying before I even opened my envelope. This is what I was dreaming.”

Mozammil was sharing a similar excitement.

“There is so much joy right now,” he said. “We both got the matches we wanted.”

While the two were able to lean on each other for support throughout medical school, they were also able to turn for advice about the residency process to their brother, Mobashshir Alam, a 2018 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine and now a gastroenterology fellow at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

“He was really helpful in guiding us through the match process,” Sumaiya said.

Mozammil said having his sister by his side helped as they have gone through the same highs and lows of medical school together.

“We definitely have relied on each other for multiple things,” he said. “During the interview season we were always there to support each other.”

Nearly half of the UMKC students who matched will be entering residency programs in one of the primary care specialties. Internal medicine drew the largest number of students with 19, followed by family medicine with 11 and pediatrics with nine. A growing number of graduates will also be going into psychiatry, which had 11 matches.

Twenty students will remain in Kansas City to do their residencies at UMKC School of Medicine-sponsored programs. Overall, 33 UMKC grads – about a third – will stay in Missouri for their residency programs.

See the full list of UMKC School of Medicine students who matched in programs across the United States from Honolulu, Hawaii, to New York.

School of Medicine Dean Mary Ann Jackson, M.D., congratulated the class, calling Match Day a defining moment in their journeys.

“The lessons you learned here will carry you through your career,” Jackson said.

School of Medicine Grads Selected as Student Honor Recipients

UMKC celebrated more than 800 Fall 2022 graduates on Dec. 18 at the T-Mobile Center in downtown Kansas City.

Two graduating School of Medicine students were honored as Dean of Students Honor Recipients for the 2022 fall semester.

Francesca Moisson, who will graduate with her M.D. degree this month, and Turquoise Templeton, who will receive her master’s in bioinformatics, were recognized for their scholastic performance, community leadership and service.

Moisson and Templeton are two of five School of Medicine students who graduated in December. They are joined by Molly Pasque, also receiving her M.D. degree, Zhiheng Zhang, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in biomedical and health informatics, and Jennifer Dutton, master of medical science-physician assistant.

Each semester, the Dean of Students Honors program distinguishes honors graduating students who maintain high scholastic performance and actively participate in university and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom. Seven UMKC recipients were recognized at a special breakfast celebration in their honor.

“Our students embody the values of UMKC with their dedication to their academic success and service to the university and surrounding communities,” said Michele D. Smith, Ph.D., vice provost for student affairs and dean of students. “As the dean of students, I am proud to recognize their achievements and know without a doubt they all have successful futures ahead of them.”

UMKC recognized its 2022 mid-year graduates at the annual mid-year commencement on Dec. 18 at Kansas City’s T-Mobile Center. Bob Carpenter, a UMKC alumnus and announcer for Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

Med Students Organize a Big Gift from Santa

Rohan Chakrabarty (top left) and Dylan Hailey (middle) are surrounded by volunteers who helped purchase toys for Operation Santa’s Sleigh.

Santa drives a Lamborghini.

That was the case on Dec. 11 when a couple of UMKC School of Medicine students who also happen to be car enthusiasts organized Operation Santa’s Sleigh, a parade of more than 30 exotic cars with police and fire department escort that delivered nearly $11,000 of toys and gifts to Children’s Mercy-Kansas City Hospital.

“Many kids get sick and find themselves in the hospital during the winter holidays, which is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year,” said UMKC medical student Rohan Chakrabarty. “We work closely with Children’s Mercy Hospital, so we chose to partner with them in a toy-drive project with a car-enthusiast twist.”

Chakrabarty and classmate Dylan Hailey are self-described car fanatics. Earlier this year the two decided to put their passion for cars to work organizing car shows and related charity events to benefit causes related to health care.

The pair organized their first event, a car show with the theme Cars Beyond the Boulevard, last May to benefit Care Beyond the Boulevard, a mobile medical clinic that serves the homeless and poverty stricken in downtown Kansas City. With the help of some of Kansas City’s leading car clubs, their show drew nearly 300 cars and raised more than $12,000 for the clinic.

“We had some goals in mind about how many cars we wanted and how much money we wanted to raise and we smashed all of them,” Hailey said. “It was awesome. We were just so stoked by how successful it was.”

It was enough that the pair went a step further in September, working with a lawyer the pair created their own non-profit organization. The 0-to-60 Foundation partners with some of Kansas City’s top car clubs, such as KC Exotics & Supercar Club and the Dream Team Car Club KC, to organize charity events.

“They have been super welcoming of us and, honestly, they really have become our friends and the community people we can turn to if we have questions about things,” Chakrabarty said. “We just used our passion and started networking with a bunch of these people. Obviously, they have a shared passion with us with cars and they liked hearing our story.”

Chakrabarty and Hailey put together an executive board for the 0-to-60 Foundation and with the help of medical students Lara Makhoul, Shelby Soukup and Isabella Boedefeld and others, assembled teams of nearly 50 students from throughout the UMKC community to help the cause.

The next idea was to create one big event that anyone – car enthusiast or not – could get involved with. That became Operation Santa’s Sleigh. Reaching out to local companies and doing fundraisers, the foundation raised $10,832 dollars. More than 20 UMKC students and car club members then met to participate in two toy buying events at local Target stores. The first event filled more than 12 shopping carts with purchases.

The group also reached out to the Kansas City police and fire departments, which agreed to get involved and provide an escort for an exotic car parade that totaled nearly 50 vehicles from Kansas City’s World War I Memorial to Children’s Mercy to deliver the toys.

Many of those went to the hospital’s Snowflake Shop, which will allow families and patients to pick up gifts at no cost. Others will go to units throughout the hospital that can be used communally, Chakrabarty said.

“I can’t imagine being a kid during Christmas and having to be in a hospital, not to mention the other struggles those families are experiencing during this time,” said Chakrabarty, who had his own hospital experience as a child who underwent an open-heart surgery. “You put all that together and it made me feel like this would be something good for us to do.”

Chakrabarty and Hailey say they already have their next event in mind, organizing another car show to help Care Beyond the Boulevard raise funds to purchase and equip a new clinic bus.

“We think we could definitely blow some of the donations that we’ve had so far out of the water,” Chakrabarty said. “We’re thinking really big and want to make sure we make a really big impact. We have the gears turning in our heads.”

Of course, Chakrabarty is willing to admit that there may be a little more than altruistic motives behind their efforts.

“Some of these events are selfish for us because we get to see all the cars, and in some cases get to drive some of these cool cars,” he said. “That’s really awesome. It kind of comes full circle.”

Rural medicine program expansion leads to School of Medicine renovation projects

A rendering of  the School of Medicine’s new second-floor learning space. Rendering by Odimo, LLC.

Missouri is getting help with its rural physician shortage from the UMKC School of Medicine.

In addition to planning a major expansion of its rural medicine campus at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, the medical school is making renovations to its Kansas City building in the Health Sciences District (HSD).

“Ensuring top-notch education and training at both of our campuses starts with creating learning spaces that are state-of-the-art,” said School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. “These renovations are key to our mission.”

The updates will provide new high-tech teaching areas for students in rural medicine as the school continues to expand its medical education program with a goal of ultimately increasing the number of physicians practicing in rural Missouri and surrounding areas.

“These HSD renovations are intimately tied to the program at St. Joseph to provide the same pre-clinical training for rural medicine on the Kansas City campus as what students are receiving at Mosaic in St. Joseph,” said School of Medicine Vice Dean Paul Cuddy. “We’re training students in St. Joseph to practice in these rural areas. As part of that training operation, some of what we’re trying to do is improve the educational spaces for our students.”

Currently underway in Kansas City is a fourth-floor renovation and expansion of an existing classroom space into an area that will accommodate up to 30 students. The room will house three 85-inch display monitors, two high definition cameras for video conferencing and white boards for group collaborations. The project also includes construction of a new student study area for HSD-based students with an interest in rural medicine.

Rendering of the new fourth-floor study area. Rendering by Odimo, LLC

After the construction on the fourth floor is complete, another renovation project is scheduled to begin early next year on the school’s second floor. That project will combine the current Graduate Medical Education office suite with an adjoining area to create a large, state-of-the-art educational space.

The new second floor educational spaces in Kansas City, while big enough to accommodate a large number of students, will also be set up to allow for small-group learning, using multiple study-group tables of up to six students, as opposed to typical classroom or auditorium seating. Each workstation will have a 65-inch display monitor for remote learning and lectures. The room will also have an 86-inch multi-touch display monitor and high-definition cameras for video conferencing.

The classroom is being designed to create an intimate setting that mimics the classroom setting planned for the new medical school building that will be constructed soon on the St. Joseph campus. The goal is an active learning environment intentionally designed to merge the two campuses.

The construction taking place in Kansas City and St. Joseph is part of the School of Medicine’s ongoing efforts to meet the medical needs of rural Missouri. Nearly half of Missouri’s rural counties are facing physician shortages according to a Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services report.

The School of Medicine opened its rural medicine program in St. Joseph in January 2021. Now it is working to extend those educational experiences to students on the Kansas City campus.

“We’re trying to set up these classrooms to make the two campuses as seamless as they can possibly be through technology and educational spaces,” said Mike Wacker, associate dean for academic affairs. “Students taking classes in the Health Sciences District will have an opportunity to have exposure to the activities that are really geared to students with a rural medicine mindset. The fourth-floor classroom will be set up so students feel as if they are sitting in the classroom at St. Joseph. We’re being very intentional about making that experience very consistent.”

Renovations on the School of Medicine’s fourth floor are expected to be completed by the end of the year, with classes to be held in the new learning space as early as January 2023. Work on the second-floor project is projected to begin in January, and is expected to be completed in time to be used for classes in the 2023 Fall semester.

Earlier this year, the school completed a renovation of the second-floor medical education media center. The area was transformed to serve as an extension of the school’s Clinical Training Facility, offering additional simulation-based training with the use of high-fidelity simulation manikins and training models.