Giving in Action: The Making of a Doctor

“When you have a young person who shows an interest in the 
field, we want to give them that little extra that continues to push them in that direction.” —Keith Allen, MD

Who’s next? As the country faces a shortage of doctors, the question of who will replace them is an urgent issue in the medical field. At Saint Luke’s, our core mission is to provide superior care—and we understand that fulfilling that mission starts with investing in new clinicians.

Saint Luke’s Cardiac Surgery and Transplant Research Scholar Program is geared toward students early in their professional journey, such as recent college graduates considering medical school, or those who wish to gain real-world experience and build their credentials. With just one student per year, the program is highly individualized and structured to meet the student’s particular needs. Working with the team at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, these scholars are able to interact directly with patients, as well as participate in some of the groundbreaking research that has helped turn the Heart Institute into an internationally recognized institution.

“When you have a young person who shows an interest in the field, we want to give them that little extra that continues to push them in that direction,” said Keith Allen, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon and director of surgical research at the Heart Institute. “We can mentor them and show them the spark that makes medicine such a fulfilling profession.”

The program began about 10 years ago after a patient, Kamal Mikhail, received a heart transplant at Saint Luke’s. Recognizing the vital role that advanced research and practice played in his care, Kamal and his wife, Mary Lynn, expressed their gratitude by establishing a fund to encourage students in the field. Their daughter, Gillian Dryton, became the program’s first scholar. She went on to become a doctor and has since returned to Saint Luke’s as an Emergency Department physician. 

Dr. Dryton’s success story has been followed by others. 

“Each of our research scholars has gone on to medical school and done very well,” reported Dr. Allen. “We’re helping young people achieve their goals in medicine.” Saint Luke’s also has a summer scholar program for high school students, as well as teaching affiliations with University of Missouri-Kansas City, offering mentorship to physicians at various stages of their professional journey. Championing these young professionals is key to Saint Luke’s goal of providing the best possible care to the community. 

We thank the Mikhails and all our donors for helping to make that possible.

Learn more about how you can support the program.