UK HealthCare

Take Your Legislator to School Day


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2009) Kentucky's legislators, the mayor of Lexington, and the secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services experienced medical school firsthand as "students" in the University of Kentucky College of Medicine's inaugural Legislative Mini-Medical School on Monday, Oct. 19. Legislators experienced – in one day – examples of the events and milestones medical students encounter in four years of training, from white coat ceremony to graduation.

[IMAGE1]“I am thankful that so many of our legislators took time out of their busy schedules to spend some time and learn a little more about what is happening in medical education and research at the University of Kentucky,” said UK President Lee T. Todd, Jr. “We have a lot of great stories to tell, and it was exciting to share some of that with Kentucky’s elected officials.”

In just nine hours, legislators attended lectures on metabolism, diabetes and obesity; toured the gross anatomy lab; learned about the difference between a normal and a fatty liver in a histology small group study session; toured radio telemetry labs, metabolic chambers and other research labs to learn how UK studies the effects of hypertension, diabetes and obesity; participated in clinical rotations with UK physicians, residents and medical students; and graduated and received their "match day" placement information for their residency programs.

“I am so proud of what we do here at the UK College of Medicine," said Dr. Jay Perman, dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for clinical affairs. "Our faculty, staff and learners, time and time again, demonstrate a strong commitment to health care within the borders of the Commonwealth and throughout the country. The entire college community is initiating change – in medical education, in research, in patient care. Legislative Mini Medical School was our opportunity to share that with a handful of Kentucky’s leaders.”

[IMAGE2]Medical students and residents were selected to represent the UK College of Medicine as ambassadors, guiding the legislators throughout the day's activities and participating in their clinical rotations. Legislators were placed in different medical specialties, from seeing patients in the Department of Pediatrics to observing a neurosurgery.

"It is so exciting to be part of this experience that allows our legislators to get a hands-on appreciation of being a medical student. Medical school is easily pigeonholed to be just about science, but it is so much more," said Logan Davies, UK M.D. and M.B.A. candidate, class of 2011. "It really is a life-changing opportunity to give back to our communities as only a physician can, and I think it is awesome that our busy legislators have taken the time to see the world through a medical student's eyes."

Davies and Rachel Saunders (UK medical student class of 2012), previous interns for the UK Jumpin' Jaguars program, shared a special presentation with the legislators. The program addresses the need for health education and more physical activity in elementary schools.

[IMAGE3]A special focus for the day, diabetes and obesity research at the UK College of Medicine, allowed legislators to better understand the impact of the diseases, specifically in Kentucky, and the current research at UK on this subject. As a part of this, legislators visited UK's first research-dedicated facility, the Biomedical Biological Sciences Research Building, where researchers do approximately $34 million in research each year.

"Kentucky is ranked seventh for obesity prevalence, hypertension, and diabetes. Unfortunately, obesity does not exist in a vacuum. Rather, obesity promotes the development of several types of disease, and when these diseases coexist their ability to cause problems is magnified,” said Lisa Cassis, professor and director of the UK Graduate Center for Nutritional Sciences. 

Research at UK is directed at understanding why obesity is at the center of so many of these "Kentucky uglies." As part of their medical school experience, legislators experienced laboratory bench science approaches to research on obesity and diabetes.

[IMAGE4]To understand the different aspects of becoming a physician, legislators received debt statements and additional details about life during medical school throughout the day, letting them know how much they'd spent throughout their "four years."

During a question-and-answer session with university leadership, including President Todd, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Karpf, Provost Kumble R. Subbaswamy, and Dean Perman, legislators asked questions regarding UK's involvement in research, the status of the UK Chandler Hospital construction, and UK's progress in reaching "Top 20."

At the graduation ceremony, legislators received their diploma, residency match information and their statement of cumulative debt.

Those in attendance included: Rep. Rocky Adkins, Sen. Tom Buford, Sen. Julie Denton, Rep. Bob DeWeese, Rep. Bill Farmer, Rep. David Floyd, Rep. Jeff Hoover, Secretary Janie Miller, Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry, Rep. Sannie Overly, Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, Rep. Tanya Pullin, Rep. Carl Rollins, Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, Rep. Arnold Simpson, Rep. John Will Stacy, Sen. Kathy Stein, Sen. Damon Thayer, Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, Rep. Susan Westrom, Sen. Ken Winters and Sallyann Bergh, an observer from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

This event marks the official launch of the UK College of Medicine's 50th anniversary. The UK College of Medicine celebrates educating the best physicians, providing outstanding care in both urban and rural communities, and conducting breakthrough research. The college gives rise to innovative change that positively impacts the Commonwealth—both economically and through quality health care.