Six-Year Med School

Hunter Faris
Photos and video by Brandon Parigo; interview by Stacy Downs; graphics by Sarah Richardson | Strategic Marketing and Communications

Video and Q & A with a student who says UMKC offers unique opportunities

Get to know our students, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about

Hunter Faris, ’19
Program: Six-Year Bachelor of Arts/Doctor of Medicine
School: School of Medicine
Hometown: Weston, Missouri



Why did you choose UMKC?

UMKC—all around—had many appealing qualities to me.

Affordability. UMKC tuition is some of the least expensive in the state. In addition, they offer a large amount of scholarships and help students attain the most amount of financial aid. I was able to attend this university at a very minimal charge and didn’t have to take out any loans, which was a top priority to me.

Inclusive and welcoming environment. The recruiters, staff, students and professors have all been inclusive since day one. I felt welcome on the campus and this allowed me to grow into the professional I am today.

Vast amount of opportunities. During my first semesters at the university, I felt the amount of opportunities available to students was exceptional. I was able to find a job, get involved in many student-led organizations, connect with professors, find a lab to do basic science research, narrow my goals for the future and volunteer in the community. Each has built towards the success I have attained today.

Location. With UMKC being centered in Kansas City, it has allowed me so many wonderful opportunities. There are always new places to eat, new activities that I can venture on, new concerts I can see. I love that I can get to anything I want in only 20 to 30 minutes tops with very little traffic. Kansas City has tons of opportunity for students, and I believe UMKC encourages and helps students find this opportunity.



Why did you choose your field of study?

As most students in high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do once I graduated. Playing sports sounded like the most enjoyable option, but I knew that wasn’t very realistic. I started to talk with my parents about options and what I enjoyed studying in school. Science and biology were my favorite subjects and I began to brainstorm professions that focused these topics. Medicine came to mind almost right away because my mother is an RN and I had plenty of experience seeing the hospital while going to work with her.

I started shadowing physicians and ultimately narrowed my choices towards a medical degree because I wanted to be the person who can diagnose a patient’s illness, follow him or her through a treatment plan and hopefully affect a positive result, whether that is curing the patient, working with them to improve their quality of life or helping them come to terms with end-of-life issues.

Since then I have continued down this path and am now a fifth-year student in the medical program. It has been really difficult and there have been plenty of points when I questioned whether or not this is what I want to do. I am glad I never changed my mind though because in the end I figured out this is the profession for me.


What are the challenges of the program?

There are going to be challenges no matter what medical school you choose, and this program is no exception (especially since you are completing medical school in six years instead of the traditional eight!)

Finding time to recuperate is a large one. Due to the year-round nature of the program, it is difficult to find time to get away and it wears on you as a student. As a student you will often be sleep deprived, hungry, frustrated, pushed to your limits, and, despite your best efforts, you will still meet failure.

Medical school is all about balancing your time and weighing the consequences of each decision whether it is choosing to take time to hang out with friends, watch an episode of Game of Thrones, or try and find time to visit your family. Even finding the time to do basic tasks such as laundry, cooking and exercising is often a challenge. What I have found is I never have enough time in the day, I’ll never get everything I wanted to done, and motivation is rarely enough to keep me ahead; however, you’re not the only one facing these challenges.

During the days that I feel especially overwhelmed, I remind myself that there are people out there with the same goal who are smarter and better than I am, and the only way I can be competitive is to work as hard as I possibly can. I truly do believe that if a student wants this enough, they will be able to overcome the challenges this program poses.



What are the benefits?

There are tons of benefits from this program. You get to complete medical school in six years rather than the traditional four years of undergraduate degree and another four of medical school. It allows students who already know that they want to pursue medicine from a young age to have a more direct route to reach their goal of becoming a physician.

The early clinic experience. When beginning the program, students are paired with docents who allow patient communication and interaction during the first week and from there on in the program. Students in the traditional route would not be able to work with patients at least until medical school and potentially even after the first year of medical school, while we start either after high school or after one year of college.

In our third year of the medical program we are paired with a fifth-year student who mentors us until they graduate. This is a unique experience that many students find worthwhile.

After White Coat Ceremony, in our fifth year, we are assigned new docents and we work with them once every week in primary care clinics on the fourth floor of Truman Medical Centers. Each week we provide care to these patients under the guidance of our docents and learn the methods needed to become a doctor through medication management and chronic disease management and increasing health benefits. This program has many worthwhile experiences for students and I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this program five years ago.

How has your college program inspired you?

The six-year medical program has challenged me more than I have ever been challenged. I think the most rewarding part of the program is working with students who are exceptional and seeing that I need to continue working just as hard in order to make myself stand out. I have also enjoyed taking classes year-round and completing more credit hours than I thought was possible in a semester. I have set new limits for myself and taught myself that I am capable of even more than I had imagined previously, thanks to this program.



What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

“Keep it simple” from Dr. Lawrence Dall. I have high ambitions with the research I complete with Dr. Dall. Ambitions on the level of wanting to change the world, but Dr. Dall keeps me focused. You can’t tackle all the issues and have to keep it simple to be able first to make a lasting change or improvement.

What do you admire most at UMKC?

I admire UMKC’s ability to facilitate worthwhile research opportunities for students. I have always had a passion for research and I have continued to find these outstanding opportunities to complete unique and innovative research here at UMKC. I give credit to the faculty as well. There are many that open up their facilities to dedicated students and allow them a great deal of responsibility and freedom with research. There are also many scholarships and presenting opportunities facilitated on our campus for our students to be recognized in their research.



What’s your greatest fear?

It would be a mix of failure and losing the ones I love. I have been fortunate in that I have not experienced much loss nor failure, but when I have, it has been devastating. The worst part is that often when it comes to loss, there isn’t anything I can do to go back and prevent it.

What is one word that best describes you?

Determined. I can’t let myself fail. I tend to overcommit myself and take on a little too much, but to me this just means many long nights and early mornings until I have completed all that I committed to do.


From across the country and around the world, our students come together in Kansas City to study business, medicine, theatre and more than 100 other academic areas. Roos become leaders in their fields and give back to their communities.

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