UMKC Med School’s New St. Joe Campus Recognized for Vaccine Efforts

Students at the new UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus take part in an orientation session.

It didn’t take long for the inaugural class at the UMKC School of Medicine’s new St. Joseph campus to make an impact on rural medicine.

Emma Smith, a medical student at UMKC School of Medicine’s St. Joseph campus, gives a COVID vaccination to fellow student Wes Stark.

In January, as the COVID vaccines were ramping up, the entire class of 20 UMKC medicine students at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph took up the charge to become fully vaccinated vaccinators themselves. For their efforts, the Patterson Family Foundation, a Kansas City family-led foundation promoting rural health care, awarded the school and Mosaic a $15,000 gift to use in recognition and support of their rural medicine vaccination efforts.

“A lot of individuals as well as the medical centers they work for really put a lot of resources, time and energy into getting the (rural) population vaccinated,” said Steve Waldman, M.D., dean of the school’s St. Joseph campus. “This is a very gracious gesture from the Patterson Family Foundation in recognition of the Mosaic-UMKC School of Medicine partnership and our efforts working in tandem to get the rural community vaccinated.”

The School of Medicine opened the St. Joseph campus in January in an effort to address the need for more rural physicians. Waldman said nobody realized just how quickly the effort would begin paying dividends.

UMKC students at Mosaic were only weeks into their medical school training when they became certified to administer vaccines and joined the volunteer effort to reach rural patients. They even administered shots to members of the school’s faculty as part of their vaccine training.

“The vision of the St. Joseph campus to increase additional rural health care providers was achieved and it occurred just a few weeks into the start of classes,” Waldman said. “In partnership with Mosaic Life Care, 100 percent of our students were trained as vaccinators and 100 percent of them volunteered to administer COVID vaccines. We didn’t have to wait four years for our students to start giving back. It happened immediately.”

Davin Turner, D.O., chief medical officer at Mosaic Life Care, said: “The students from UMKC School of Medicine were an amazing resource for Mosaic and their contribution was invaluable. We were honored to work side by side with the students as they assisted with our vaccination efforts. We could not have administered the more than 47,000 first and second doses without their tireless efforts. To have them part of our Mosaic community has been an immediate benefit, and we can’t thank them enough. We are grateful others such as the Patterson Family Foundation recognized their efforts as well.”

The gift from the Patterson Foundation will be used to reward and recognize those who gave their time and in some cases took the risk early on to volunteer before being fully vaccinated.

Waldman said part of the funds would also go to training additional vaccinators.

“Hopefully they’ll never be needed, but we’re excited about being a lot more prepared,” he said.