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Professor Kim Templeton receives national awards for her work in advocacy, research and education

Templeton, M.D., professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, garnered recognition from the American Medical Association Foundation, the Women’s Health Congress and the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Kim Templeton on bench in hallway
Kimberly J. Templeton, M.D., professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center, garnered multiple accolades in the past few months from national organizations wanting to show gratitude for her work.

If the medical community had the equivalent of an EGOT (Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony), at least one University of Kansas Medical Center professor would have it: Kimberly J. Templeton, M.D.

Templeton, professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, received the following prestigious awards from March to June 2022:

Below, Templeton provided some insight into these awards and what they mean to her

Q: Congratulations on the many awards! These are prestigious awards, and you've received them seemingly all at once. What has been your response to this outpouring of recognition?

It’s been gratifying to see that people are recognizing my work, although none of this gets done alone.  It’s especially gratifying when the announcement is made, and I didn’t know that I was being considered for any of these awards. 

I think I’ve been working on various aspects of medicine for long enough that people are starting to understand what I do and the change I’m trying to effect.

Q: What specific award did you win from the AMA Foundation? What does winning this award mean to you?

I received the Dr. Edmond and Rima Cabbabe Dedication to the Profession Award, one of the Excellence in Medicine Awards. This award recognizes “physicians who are committed to expanding knowledge through teaching, conducting research, and publishing, in addition to leadership and volunteerism in medical and other civic organizations.”

This award means a lot because, in part, it recognizes the entirety of my work, which includes teaching, research, and medical advocacy.  When issues arise in medicine, whether related to a patient issue or those impacting physicians, I think it is our responsibility to speak up.  As I tell medical students and residents, if there is a problem, it likely won’t get better on its own.  You may be the only one to see the problem because of your experiences and point of view or you may be the only one willing to speak up.  Once you speak up, you may find that you have allies.  But don’t wait until you have a title to address issues, because likely nothing will change.

Q: As part of your acceptance of the Bernadine Healy Award, you will be presenting a talk titled “The Care of Women: Raising the Bar and Removing the Silos.” What do you want people to take away from that talk, and how does it honor the memory of Healy, a renowned advocate for women’s health?

There are sex and gender differences in every aspect of health and disease.  Unfortunately, women’s health has typically been thought of as only reproductive health, with more recent emphasis on cardiac disease and bone health.

My talk will focus on osteoarthritis, which is more common among women than men at almost all ages and in all joints. However, people usually don’t think of that as part of “women’s health,” even though osteoarthritis (OA) is impacted by both sex and gender. Women are more likely than men to suffer from disability and lost time from work due to osteoarthritis. Women, especially those with OA, are also more likely than men to have multiple chronic health conditions.  If we are to improve care for women, we need to look at how health conditions may be linked, and that means removing current siloes in healthcare research and how healthcare is provided.  That reflects the work of Dr. Healy: understanding the entirety of what is encompassed by “women’s health.”

I’m speaking this month at a (virtual) meeting in Taiwan about how sex and gender differences are taught around the globe; most countries are not doing substantially better than the U.S.  However, if we are going to move to more personalized medicine, treating patients with an eye to their sex and/or gender is a critical place to start.

"This award ... recognizes the entirety of my work, which includes teaching, research and medical advocacy.  When issues arise in medicine, whether related to a patient issue or those impacting physicians, I think it is our responsibility to speak up."

Q: The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) sets the standards for the exams that medical students take to become licensed. You’ve been a volunteer with the NBME since 2005, and they awarded you the Edithe J. Levit Distinguished Service Award for your research related to the evaluation of health professionals and your service on multiple committees. Tell us a bit more about that work.

This award is given to an individual who has completed their terms of service with the NBME.  Given the amazing people who serve on the NBME, I was surprised and honored to receive this award.  I initially was asked to work with the NBME when they wanted to increase the amount of musculoskeletal content on the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 2 exam and was then to serve on the Step 2 Surgery Committee. Since then, I have served on numerous committees and task forces and as a member-at-large of the NBME. 

In developing exam questions, I tried to include as much in terms of sex and gender differences related to musculoskeletal health as possible.  And in helping to rewrite questions from other surgical specialties, I think I demonstrated that there isn’t any condition or topic you can’t bring back to its impact on bone health and osteoporosis. 

My most recent work with the NBME was on the RENEW (Reimagining Exams: the NBME Effort on Wellness) task force.  I was asked to participate because of my background in working on issues related to diversity, especially gender.  I recommended a qualitative study that asked students to describe their experiences in preparing for and then receiving the results from the Step 1 exam.  We looked at students in general but also with an emphasis on identifying differences based on gender and race.  This study is scheduled for publication next month.

Q: Each of your awards merits its own news article. We hope you don’t mind that we combined them all into one feature to show the state of Kansas and the medical community as whole what a rock star you are. Where are you going to showcase all your trophies and plaques? 

I’m not sure where these will go.  While I appreciate the tangible part of these awards, what means more to me are the conversations that I have had and continue to have as a result.  People have asked what I’ve been involved in to earn these recognitions, and this provides opportunities to engage with others in this work to hopefully expand on what has been accomplished thus far and to discuss ideas on new projects moving forward. 


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