Emphasizing the Importance of Women in Medicine

A Message from the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean banner

When I enrolled in the six-year medical degree program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1973, UMKC was considered a pioneer because they admitted roughly an equal number of men and women to their medical school. Historically, that has not been the case at other medical schools across the country, though over the decades, other schools have caught up with UMKC.

We have seen a consistent trend over the last several years at MU with more women entering medical school. The Class of 2026, for example, consists of 75 women and 52 men. While we are admitting more women into medical school, we need to now ensure that more women go into traditionally male-dominated specialties, such as many of the surgical specialties.

In addition, it is important that women have equal representation in leadership positions in medicine. I am happy to say that we are making significant progress here at our medical school. More than one-third of our department chairs are women, which is almost double the national average. I hope to see that number increase.

A number of our women leaders have participated in the prestigious Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program (Drs. Kristin Hahn-Cover, Richelle Koopman, Elizabeth Parks and Laine Young-Walker). This is a competitive program to prepare the next generation of women leaders in science. I am glad to see Dr. Lee-Ann Allen, chair of molecular microbiology and immunology, was accepted into the new ELAM class beginning July 2023.

I was recently honored to take part in two important programs that emphasize the importance of women in medicine.

On May 19, our Women in Medicine and Medical Sciences (WIMMS) group hosted its eighth annual workshop. I was honored to share a few remarks at the event, which included a keynote from Dr. Abby Spencer, vice chair for education in the Department of Medicine and director of the Academy of Educators at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Spencer is an ELAM graduate.

In her keynote, “Thriving on the Journey: Building and Engaging Your Support Network to Enhance Connection,” Dr. Spencer shared the ways in which women in medicine need to take time for themselves. It was a great presentation and has applications for all of us. I would encourage you to take a moment to review her presentation for yourself. 

In addition to her keynote, the workshop included a roundtable discussion on solutions and life hacks for personal and professional challenges. What a great topic!

I am proud of the progress we have made at the MU School of Medicine in elevating the role of women in medicine and science. I am excited to see the many important accomplishments we will see from these brilliant doctors.


Richard J. Barohn
Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs/Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean,
School of Medicine