U.K. College of Medicine Update
By Robert S. DiPaolo, MD, Dean
At the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, we pride ourselves in our work to ensure students are ready for their futures in health care and research. For proof of that preparation, all one must do is look at the accomplishments of our alumni.
Brent Morris, MD, a 2008 graduate, loves his job as an orthopedic surgeon with the Fondren Orthopedic Group and Texas Orthopedic Hospital in Houston. In addition to managing his busy practice, he remains active as a researcher, teacher, and fellowship director of the TERFSES Shoulder and Elbow Fellowship.
Dr. Morris says the UK College of Medicine was “instrumental” in shaping him for success during his medical career. It provided him several clinical and research opportunities, including his work to establish a clinical registry in 2011 that assessed opioid use in the orthopedic trauma population. His team’s research identified the surprisingly high prevalence of “doctor shopping” and postoperative opioid use among this group, and their work went on to be published in many well-regarded medical journals and publications.
“UK College of Medicine provides an incredible foundation to allow its graduates to seek out top residency and fellowship positions,” Dr. Morris says. “We receive practical skills to adapt to an ever-dynamic health care landscape, but also hands-on clinical skills that are hard to replicate and set our graduates apart.”
Ima Ebong, MD, a 2013 graduate of the College of Medicine, is an assistant professor of neurology and clinical neurophysiology at UK and director of diversity and inclusion for the department of neurology. As a first-year medical student, Dr. Ebong launched the University of Kentucky Minority Education Development Program (UKMED), an annual two-day recruitment program with a goal of attracting premedical students from non-majority populations to the college. The program just completed its 10th year of providing these prospective students a firsthand look at what they’ll experience in medical school. More than 250 people have taken part in this initiative.
Kristy Deep, MD, is a 2003 graduate of the College of Medicine and now program director for internal medicine residency at UK. She helped start the system’s palliative care program more than a decade ago, and her innovative thinking has made a lasting impact on how we care for our state’s sickest patients.
This is just what some of our alumni have accomplished so far, and the future looks just as bright. In fact, the UK College of Medicine’s Class of 2023 is the largest class we’ve ever admitted. This fall, we welcomed 138 students at our Lexington campus and 30 students at our Bowling Green Campus – a partnership with Western Kentucky University and Med Center Health. We also were excited to welcome 35 students who are members of the inaugural class of our new Northern Kentucky Campus, made possible through a collaboration with Northern Kentucky University and St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
Meanwhile, 12 students from this year’s class are participating in our Rural Physician Leadership Program, during which they’ll complete their first two years in Lexington and their final two years with health care providers in Northeast Kentucky. The program, with the help of Morehead State University, puts an emphasis on community medicine so students are trained to provide high-quality care in rural areas.
This large group of learners marks a pivotal achievement for the UK College of Medicine, especially as we work to not only educate, but also keep some of our graduates in the state serving the Commonwealth. Right now, Kentucky is facing a physician shortage, especially in rural areas, and the need for health care professionals becomes much more urgent when we consider the state’s struggles with high cancer rates, the opioid epidemic, tobacco usage, malnutrition, heart disease, and more. We hope that through our expansion within Kentucky, many of our learners will find home here to add to the workforce of practices throughout the state and help improve the overall health and well-being of our communities.
This is what Dr. Deep did. Her mission had always been to practice in Kentucky, specifically in Breathitt County where she grew up. But after completing her education with the UK College of Medicine, she realized her desire to fulfill health care needs in central Kentucky. So she stayed with us to treat our patients and mold the minds of our doctors in training.
“I was inspired by the faculty with whom I worked. They were the doctors that I wanted to be like – excellent critical thinkers, compassionate, and dedicated to the work we do here for Kentuckians,” she says.
Whether they choose to practice in Kentucky or make an impact around the world, here at the UK College of Medicine, we continuously strive to provide our learners with the educational resources they need to achieve their big dreams in health care.
And in return, the opportunities for our graduates are endless.