67 KU students celebrate an important milestone to becoming a doctor

A whole bunch of young men and women gathered for Match Day. No, no one was looking for a date, but they were about to receive big news.

Sixty-seven students who have spent the last few years studying their heads off at the University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita were about to find out where they will spend the next three plus years doing their residency. This day is an important milestone on their way to becoming a doctor.

I got nervous for them just seeing all that anxiety and I wasn’t going anywhere. They could get the sheet with the destination on it before the program, or wait until they were called onstage to open the taped piece of paper.

But no one was to find out until noon, EST. Jacob “Jake” Umscheid looked at his watch. Two minutes to go. When urged to go ahead and take a peek, he said, “I’ve waited eight years, I can wait two more minutes.”

Exactly two minutes later his parents, Jeff and Paula Umscheid, and his fiancé, Kim Duncan, were all smiles because Jake will be staying right here in Wichita. His area is pediatrics. “I’m just fine with that. I get to stay here.” He’s getting married April 27, so that will make things easier.

It was fun watching the students who didn’t check ahead of time. As each student walked up to the mic and announced where they were going, some had difficulty opening the sheet because their hands were shaking.

Some were thrilled and demonstrative showing happiness, relief, and yes, a couple looked a bit disappointed. One young woman was very tearful when she found out she would be staying in Wichita. I found out later those were tears of happiness, not disappointment.

This group was being scattered all over the United States leaving the center of the country for California, Florida, Washington, Connecticut, Illinois, and Texas to name just a few.

Alma Habib, studying internal medicine, was all smiles. “Yes! I’m happy to be going to Minneapolis. It’s a great program. She and her husband, Adnan Shaaban, who is a doctor, are expecting their first child soon. Whew. Talk about an adventure.

Hannah Langley Blanton, who is specializing in radiology, got so excited when she found out she would be going to Indianapolis, she forgot to mention that she would be there for only one year, then on to Charleston, S.C., for four years. Her field is radiology.

She’s been married to Tate Blanton for nine months and he says he’s willing to go wherever he needs to go. But, without hesitation they agreed that someday they want to come back here to live.

And that’s exactly what the faculty and staff love to hear. Make these students doctors then keep them in Kansas.

I drove past the University School of Medicine probably a billion times before I knew much about it. I did know more than my friend however. She thought it was where you go get a flu shot if you can’t afford one.

Fortunately I was asked to be on a committee, 4-Wichita Advancement Board, a group to promote the visibility and importance of the KU Medical School here in Wichita.

I was very pleased to find that the KU School of Medicine is first in the nation in percentage of graduates who go to rural areas. First!

And there’s more. With 286 residents, 200 students enrolled, 871 volunteer faculty and 165 paid faculty, it is in the top 10 medical schools that have graduates entering family medicine residencies.

So the next time you’re whipping down the highway and see the giant sign, a Jayhawk with “We doctor Kansas” on the building, know that’s it’s another great thing about Wichita. Your next doctor might be in one of those buildings.

Also, if you’re ever invited to Match Day, go. It’s a lot more fun than graduation.

Reach Bonnie Bing at bingbylines@gmail.com