NewsBlack History Month 2024


KC physician mentors underrepresented medical students, establishes nonprofit

Life Flight
Posted at 3:30 PM, Feb 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 01:05:39-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Black Americans comprise more than 12% of the population but account for less than 6% of doctors in the United States.

Thus, one area doctor is hoping to improve physician diversity in Kansas City.

Dr. Michael Weaver called St. Luke’s on the Plaza home for decades. In his role as the medical director of various departments over the years, he added another title to his job description: mentor.

“It is absolutely amazing and heartfelt,” Weaver said.

He takes on the role time and time again because of his dedication to social justice and a diverse workforce.

“I think those are really important drivers to keep this movement going,” he said.

Weaver stresses the importance of having a physician who looks like the patient, especially in minority communities.

In a 2020 study, CNN reported Black newborns are less likely to die when cared for by Black physicians.

Critical Mass Gathering Event
Dr. Weaver and local physicians host a mentorship conference each year called the Critical Mass Gathering Event with students from three local medical schools. The name is based on the physics theory that it takes a critical mass to maintain a movement.

To continue his work, Weaver recently started the Mission Vision Project. The nonprofit brings together underrepresented minority medical students with practicing physicians who look like them.

“The literal sense of community and belonging and sort of the idea of being able to see what you can be, that’s kind of our tagline,” Weaver said. “It’s hard to hit a target you can’t see.”

Growing up near 27th and Prospect, Weaver explored his love of biology while in high school.

UMKC Medical School class of 1977
Dr. Michael Weaver, pictured fourth from left, with fellow medical students.

But when he was accepted into the University of Missouri-Kansas City's medical program, the son of two teachers looked for guidance.

“I realized there weren’t very many people who looked like me that could mentor me. In fact, in emergency medicine, there were zero,” he said. “It was clearly a challenge … Not only just in terms of motivating me to be the best I can be but there is sort of a social capital that you have when you have friends who have been through the same things.”

Now retired from St. Luke’s, Weaver’s full focus is on providing the support he was unable to receive.

“We want Kansas City to be the best city it can be, and so we want all of our citizens in Kansas City to be as healthy as they can be,” Weaver said. “This is something we need to do to come together as a community to make sure we have all the resources to make the next generation of physicians more diverse in Kansas City.”

The Junior League of Kansas City is honoring Dr. Weaver for his efforts at its C3KC conference on March 23. The Junior League is presenting him with the Branton/Hall community collaborator award.