Leaders in Medical Education

Dr. Kayse Shrum, Dean at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine

Osmosis Team
Published on Aug 21, 2016. Updated on Invalid date.

Dr. Kayse Shrum is a native Oklahoman who earned her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. She joined the college’s faculty as a pediatrician in 2002. In 2013, she was promoted to her current position as president of OSU Center for Health Sciences and dean of OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, becoming the youngest and first female president and dean of a medical school in the state of Oklahoma. Dr. Shrum appreciates the challenges faced by rural communities in terms of accessing quality health care and understands the community-wide impact that the availability of physicians has on rural economies. During her leadership tenure, she has focused on growing the primary care rural physician pipeline by increasing the number of medical students from rural Oklahoma, by implementing a rural-focused curriculum, and by expanding rural-based residency training sites.

How did you decide on a career in medicine?
I always enjoyed science as a high school student and was majoring in science. One of my professors suggested to me that I should consider medicine. I followed his advice and visited a medical school and shadowed my family physician. After those experiences I was hooked.

What were a few key steps in your journey from an aspiring medical student to your current position as Dean ofthe School of Osteopathic Medicine at Oklahoma State University?
I was in a private practice group in which I was a partner prior to returning to the University. During my time in private practiced I missed interacting with students and residents. I had served as chief resident and really enjoyed it. I never had aspirations to be a department chair or administrator. However, I have always been willing to provide leadership when asked. Whether I am practicing medicine or serving as Dean I want to improve every day. I was asked to serve as an interim department chair to which I agreed. The department was a mess and I felt I could “clean it up” before they brought in a new chair. My successes in the interim position lead me to my current role.

What is the greatest difference between the clinical side of medicine and the administrative side?
The impact you have on patients health and healing is not through direct  patient care but indirect through the programs you develop and medical students and residents your college and hospital educate.

Can you shed light on what distinguishes an osteopathic medical school from an allopathic medical school?
The philosophy of osteopathic medicine differs from that of allopathic medicine and this is reflected in our curriculum. We have additional course work called osteopathic principles and practice. There is an emphasis on treating the whole patient. This concept is frequently simple stated by acknowledging that health and healing are impacted by a person’s mind, body and spirit.

What does an "average" day look like for you?
The first thing I learned as dean is that there will be no average day. Your calendar might not reflect what you will spend your time on that day. My days are split between students and faculty, the hospital, meetings with donors, legislative visits and attending various board meeting. Additionally, there is always the unexpected crisis that will require immediate attention.

What was/were the most memorable experience(s) during your medical education?
My first exam as a medical student, my first chest tube, my first night of call as an intern, my first code as a resident. I believe the “firsts” stick with you.

There is an enormous debate these days as to whether resources should be primarily allocated to fighting diseases or the distal causes of diseases. What are your thoughts on this issue of proximal causes versus distal causes?
I believe prevention is paramount to health and well-being but we cannot abandon a generation who will not benefit from research on distal causes. We have an obligation to patients to continue researching treatments and cures.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing physicians today?
Burnout. Physicians are being burdened more and more with less and less autonomy. The current system doesn’t allow physicians to focus on their patients.

What are most the important facets of an undergraduate’s application to medical school from an admissions perspective?
Science GPA,  MCAT score, a personal statement that reflects a desire to serve others and  an interview that reflects strong communication skills, empathy and humanism