The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine has received the prestigious Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Engagement from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The award highlights the university’s longstanding commitment to supporting the Kansas City area and its underserved populations. According to the AAMC, UMKC has displayed unwavering dedication to reaching community members through nontraditional avenues of health care with low- and no-cost clinics, community events, education opportunities and more.
The School of Medicine is the only recipient of this award in 2023, further cementing its reputation of inclusion and community success. To School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., this award is a checkpoint, rather than a finish line.
“We are honored to receive this award, not only for the recognition of our hardworking students, staff and faculty, but for the visibility this brings to schools of medicine, like ours, that seek to better the community,” Jackson said. “Being a medical professional and working with wonderful collaborators at the School of Medicine and our affiliates is choosing every day to deliver the highest level of care to all people, regardless of who they are or where they come from. Connecting with the community through our many outreach efforts is teaching our students that optimizing care for all can occur in real time, and I can’t wait to see what more we can accomplish together.”
More than 60 key community partnerships help make university outreach successful. Strong bonds among UMKC and businesses, faith groups, neighborhood organizations, youth groups and local leaders have all played a key role in identifying areas of need and how UMKC can best serve.
One of the champions of community engagement, Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute, has been spearheading these efforts throughout her career at the university.
“We’ve received this honor because of our stellar community partners, staff and students who are committed to improving the health of Kansas Citians,” Berkley-Patton said. “We are being recognized on a national level because of their desire to make the world a better place, and I am honored to have a part in this community engagement journey. Thank you to everyone involved who has made this work possible.”
Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. has played a key role in Our Healthy Jackson County’s success.
“This award is a special opportunity for our community to recognize all the hard work that UMKC and their community partners, staff and students do to bring health care to Jackson County," White said. "Seeing the community become healthier together is proof that the Our Healthy Jackson County program needs and deserves the county’s investment now and in the future. With the support of UMKC, we are truly making a difference in our residents’ lives and it’s rewarding to know that our work is being recognized on a national level for others to follow."
In an online award presentation Oct. 25, the AAMC noted that the impact of the university is “Evident in its outcomes,” citing the success of Our Health Jackson County and the university’s partnership with KC Faith Community Action Board.
Jackson and Berkley-Patton will accept the award Nov. 5 at an AAMC conference in Seattle.
AAMC presenters said: “Community engagement at UMKC has a profound impact on learners, helping them to become more compassionate practitioners. When sharing his experience with the Community Health Research Group and the Health Equity Institute, led by Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton, fourth-year medical student Alex Geyer notes, ‘engaging with the community face-to-face, outside of the clinical setting, will help me be a physician worthy of my patients’ trust and serve as a role model for future budding physicians.”