First-year course director, third-year clinical rotation supervisor, internal medicine residency program director, rheumatology fellowship faculty member, dean of graduate medical education, and practicing physician—J. Michael Finley, DO, has worn a lot of hats during his 30-year career, but none have provided more excitement than his current one as senior associate dean at the proposed Kansas Health Science Center-Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (KHSC-KansasCOM).

“There are few opportunities in one’s professional life to truly start something new,” Dr. Finley says. “The support from Kansas, Wichita, the medical community, and our proposed KHSC-KansasCOM team is truly remarkable and inspiring. It is a joy to begin the work to achieve success for the students, faculty, staff, and our community in Kansas that is home.”

It’s his wide range of experience combined with his ongoing personal growth and professional curiosity that Dr. Finley believes make him well-suited to help train the next generation of the region’s health care professionals.

Dr. Finley specializes in rheumatology and internal medicine and has been involved in medical education for 31 years, most recently as an independent consultant in medical and graduate medical education. Over the years, he has held a variety of hospital appointments in California along with academic positions at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine; Loma Linda University School of Medicine; Pacific Hospital of Long Beach; UCLA Harbor Medical Center; the Thomas Haider Program at UC Riverside School of Medicine; and Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Starting an osteopathic school of medicine isn’t new to Dr. Finley either. He was the associate dean for graduate medical education and chair of the Department of Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU), College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California, and held various academic positions there for nearly two decades. During his tenure at WesternU, Dr. Finley assisted with the development of an additional campus location in Lebanon, Oregon, for rural, underserved residents in that state.

“Each of the opportunities I have had during my career has allowed me to grow and understand the complexities of the journey to becoming a competent, empathic and caring osteopathic physician,” Dr. Finley says. “While my formal training ended almost 30 years ago, I am still learning every day.”

Putting all of his industry knowledge and experience to work, Dr. Finley is actively involved in helping shape what the proposed KHSC-KansasCOM will become and how it will impact not only the lives of those who attend but also the communities they serve.

“Working with the faculty, we intend to deliver an engaging, modern learning experience for our ‘developing colleagues’ that will equip and empower each of them for what is to come next on their professional journey,” Dr. Finley says. “We are mindful that each of our graduates may practice until 2060 and beyond, so preparing them with foundational knowledge and skills combined with the ability to adjust to the changing environment is what the proposed KHSC-KansasCOM is all about.”

Another aspect of the job that drew Dr. Finley to Wichita was the opportunity to work with Dean and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Joel Dickerman. The two initially met as residency program directors nearly 20 years ago and have developed a close relationship based on professional respect.

“It is fun to come to work every day. Dr. Dickerman and I have literally put the band back together again here in Wichita,” said Dr. Finley. “We complement each other with our backgrounds and skills, and the fact that we are both from the Midwest and love hockey helps a great deal as well.”

But the band is not yet complete, and Dr. Finley has a message for any other potential faculty members out there considering KHSC.

“If you are a pioneer wishing to make a substantial impact and contribution to the rising generation of osteopathic physician colleagues, come join us,” Dr. Finley says. “We are intentional in our vision and effort to disrupt medical school education and equip the proposed KHSC-KansasCOM graduates for the future that awaits them, and these colleagues need and deserve the best mentors and guidance we can give them.”

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