Students return to campus

January 27, 2014

All of our students are back on our campuses after the holiday break. Those who are now in the final stretch of their education are undoubtedly looking forward to commencement, residencies and post-doctoral training. For all of our students, however, the weeks ahead are filled with the sort of research and service opportunities that turn health care providers into health care leaders.

They'll get a big assist thanks to changes at Dykes Library. Many of you are aware that over the past few months the library staff has been making significant changes to address dramatic changes in publishing and the educational landscape. As demand for print materials decreases and demand for electronic materials increases, the library is changing its environment. They are reorganizing with a renewed focus on our core missions of education, research and patient care.

The most immediate benefit for students - as well as our entire faculty and staff - is the revised access policy. The library is now open 24 hours a day and seven days a week to anyone with an employee or student badge. The library is also sharing space with student services administration and the registrar and financial aid offices, so students have a one-stop shop for study and research support, registration and financial aid assistance, and student services help (additionally, the Office of Student Life is still open in its current location in Orr-Major). The library will also expand areas for learning and collaboration, and staff are making plans to add technical support so students will be able to bring in their laptops, tablets, mobile devices and other technological equipment to have them serviced.

Look for more details about changes at the library in this week's KU Med Central. Until then, on behalf of all of our students, faculty and staff, I'm grateful to all of the Dykes Library staff - particularly Heather Collins, Crystal Cameron-Vedros and Rachel Gyore, with leadership from Michael Harmelink and Vince Loffredo - for this transformative effort.

Our library staff will undoubtedly be helpful to students as they prepare for one of KU Medical Center's signature annual events, one that demonstrates our commitment to educating leaders who will shape the future of health care.

Students have from now until the end of the month to submit abstracts, and we are now recruiting faculty judges for, the annual Student Research Forum (more information and application forms are posted here). Sponsored by the Graduate Student Council, this event showcases all three of our schools, with students from Medicine, Health Professions and Nursing making presentations - our nursing students who are currently in other countries even make a presentation via Adobe Connect - and graduate students present their Ph.D. and master's work. Students organize the entire two-day event (with support from our Office of Graduate Studies), an effort that includes determining who to invite to present the annual A.L Chapman Keynote Research Lecture. The forum is April 2-4 this year, so I hope everyone will make plans to attend some of the sessions (a schedule is here).

Selected winners from this year's forum will advance to the annual Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka in February 2015. Last year's winners, Greta Stamper, Chris Jehle, Bliss O'Bryhim, Kristin Watt and Cara Busenhart, will be representing KU Medical Center next month in Topeka - we wish them well.

Students are also spending important time in communities near and far. For example, over break, four undergraduate nursing students - Danielle Deshazer, Brittany Hernandez, Kimberly Utter and Kelsi Dudzik - took a 34-hour one-way plane trip to serve as Jayhawks in Malawi, a study abroad and service-learning program for which they will receive KU course credit (they chronicled their experiences on this Facebook page). Meanwhile, senior nursing students have begun their eight-week clinical unit in Populations, which focuses on non hospital-based health care settings. They'll be spending time at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, City Union Mission, Kansas City Hospice House and Harmon High School in Wyandotte County. And later this month, the Laptad Academic Society of student nurses will present medicine and funds they have raised to Silver City Health Center.

Medicine and Health Professions students are starting work on their Community Health Project, another service-learning opportunity. The program started in 1993 with a group of five medical students who did internships at Catholic Charities, the Duchesne Clinic, Project EAGLE and the Rose Brooks Center. The program has grown significantly over the last two decades - last year 25 students placed at community agencies. The program is run by student directors who are advised by faculty members Cheryl Gibson, Wendy Hildenbrand and Stewart Babbott. Student directors select and work with student interns, who interview at various agencies through mid-March. In April they begin eight-week internships in which they're expected to work 256 hours. During that time, they design and implement an academic project to benefit the agency, make an oral or poster presentation about their experiences, and submit a final summative report, all of which will be showcased here on campus sometime over the summer.

These are just a few of the projects our students will be working on in the weeks ahead. As all of us look forward to the warmer weather ahead, I hope you'll make plans to attend their presentations and find every way you can to support our future health care leaders.

Last modified: Jan 30, 2014