Having to stay after class at the request of her professor became the turning point in the life and career of Dr. Kayse Shrum, President of the OSU Center for Health Sciences (Tulsa) and Tuesday's program for the Okmulgee Lions Club. The question posed to Kayse was this, "Kayse, you have the highest grade average in this class, have you ever thought about applying for medical school?" All the others have already been accepted. Thus began a frantic search for a medical school compatible with her goals, beliefs, and proximity to home, Coweta, and settling on her decision to attend OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tulsa.
Kayse was a fast-pitch softball pitcher and had scholarship offers from the University of Nebraska, OU, and others, but chose to attend Connors State College, Warner, because three of her teammates were also offered scholarships there and it was close to home. She graduated with an Associate of Science Degree in '92, earning District Academic All-American honors, Who's Who in Junior Colleges, and inducted into Connors State College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. She continued her education at the University of Arkansas for one year before returning to Oklahoma and Northeastern State University, then deciding to apply for medical school at OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating 1998. She has been in her present position since 2013.
Dr. Shrum spends a lot of time and effort recruiting medical students for the college, even though they have around 3,000 applicants for 115 positions. Her big push is to provide medical doctors for rural Oklahoma because more than 25% of the state's 1,362 doctors are over 65 years of age and most of them are probably contemplating retirement. She was pleased to mention that Okmulgee Drs. Tim and Tracy Sanford are graduates of OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. Another recent Okmulgee graduate of the medical college is Dr. Megan (Moore) Wilson, daughter of Judge Pat and Lion Jill Moore, who were both in attendance for Tuesday's meeting. Also in attendance was Ashley Milton, coordinator for Dr. Shrum, whose grandparents, the late Walt and Marie Beymer, were long-time residents of Henryetta.
This year a $3.8 million grant from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) to the OSU Center for Health Sciences and OSU Medical Authority is a promise to bring more physicians to select regions of rural Oklahoma. The TSET funding prompted matching funds from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to further sustain these residency programs well into the future. This partnership will fund and establish medical residency programs to train doctors in rural and medically underserved areas, and provide a reliable stream of new doctors for years to come.
Oklahoma ranks No. 48 nationally in access to primary care physicians, and rural Oklahoma bears the brunt of this physician shortage. The shortage is on track to worsen in the immediate future as 40% of rural physicians are expected to retire in the coming years. Data show that most medical residents embrace the communities in which they train, and choose to stay there when they graduate. They become a part of those communities, hire from those communities, and make long-term investment.
Dr. Shrum's goal is to continue to recruit the best of the best to continue to provide top-notch medical care for all Oklahomans. What another inspirational story of (almost) local-girl-makes-good. When are you going to quit missing all these good programs? Make it a point to come visit the Lions and hear us roar!
Pictured top (left to right) is President Lion Beth Flud, Dr. Kayse Shrum, and Lion Dean Craig, substituting for Program Chairman Lion Jim McClendon.
(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig, with excerpts from Dr. Kayse Shrum )