Knowledge and Enthusiasm are Key

Kimberly Wiele Receives School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award

A staff radiologist  at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Kimberly Wiele is described as one of the best breast imagers in the country. That’s not just because of her ability to detect malignancy, evaluate findings and perform breast procedures. She also is hailed for her disarming bedside manner, counseling patients during a time of anxiety and fear.

“Many have asked if the job is depressing and my answer is always ‘no,’ because first of all, many patients find out that they do not have breast cancer. Even for those who do, we can honestly provide real hope,” Wiele said. “We are able to detect tumors much earlier now because of advances in digital mammography and breast MRI. This has led to a reduction in mortality from breast cancer. Advances in treatments for breast cancer have also come a long way.”

Wiele, who is also an assistant professor of radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University, received her M.D. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine in 1981. Wiele’s husband, Robert Wiele (M.D., 1978) and son, Benjamin Wiele, (M.D., 2012), also graduated from the UMKC School of Medicine.

“I decided when I was 14 that I wanted to be a physician and when I heard about UMKC as a junior in high school, I couldn’t wait to apply! What a huge privilege to get to go to med school straight out of high school. I absolutely loved it.”
At the UMKC School of Medicine, Wiele discovered her passion for radiology.

“I was instantly fascinated by the use of technology to diagnose complicated diseases,” she said. “The young radiologists who mentored me enthusiastically taught me how much imaging influences patient care and they made the task of solving diagnostic dilemmas so much fun in the midst of the challenges.”

Wiele will be honored by the campus and the UMKC Alumni Association with the 2015 School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award. She is among the 17 UMKC alumni who will be recognized at the annual Alumni Awards luncheon on Thursday, April 23. The luncheon is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. Last year’s luncheon attracted nearly 600 attendees and garnered more than $117,000 in student scholarships.

Wiele co-authored Washington University’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology breast imaging core curriculum and a case-based review book designed for radiology residents. She participates in research studies, teaches residents and fellows, and mentors students.

“I think being a teacher is almost a given for physicians — we just want to share what we do with others, and so it’s completely natural to want to pass it on to the next generation of physicians,” Wiele said. “I love to teach residents how to do biopsies. We also train fellows in breast imaging, and at the fellow level, we can really hone skills so that these young professionals go out into practice ready to function as diagnosticians and team players in a field that demands detailed precision and expertise.”

Wiele also makes time for community service and is in her 14th year as president of her church’s chancel choir.

“I became a Christian in 1985 and knew that God had given me so much, including the calling to be a physician, and that I would need to use my influence to help others come to understand the hope and joy and power of genuine faith,” she said. “Serving my church and the ministry of Young Life is a natural outflowing of that faith. Music in ministry is my favorite ‘hobby’ and also a great way to invite others to enjoy so many genres of expression for the ages. Singing is just such a joy.”

Wiele’s disarming bedside manner comes from many sources, including knowledge.

“People can handle bad news in baby steps if they are armed with good information — it helps them to cope with the fear which largely stems from not knowing what lies ahead,” she said. “Our nurses also work alongside of us and reinforce the conversations we begin with the patients. This is what makes our practice so rewarding. We try to take the ‘worst day’ and with our team, turn it into a ‘I think I can face this’ day and ultimately give them the tools to fight it.”

She also attributes her positive attitude to family.

“My dad had a little saying posted in the stock room of the shoe salon he managed when I was a kid that he exemplifies in his own life: ‘Enthusiasm is contagious, and so is the lack of it,’ ”  she said. “I try to bring enthusiasm to everything I work on and I try to give my best. Dad also wisely knew that if you find something you love to do, you will never ‘work’ a day in your life. On the days that I am weighed down, I remind myself of these things.”

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