A key component of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s mission is providing exceptional education for medical students, residents and fellows, and biomedical trainees.

In celebration of Women in Medicine Month, we commemorate three experienced female leaders who oversee our three areas of education at the UK College of Medicine.

Beth Garvy, PhD, professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics, is the senior associate dean for biomedical education. A UK faculty member since 1998, Dr. Garvy is a well-funded researcher who has led two collaborative Alliance Research Initiative teams and co-authored more than 150 publications, letters, manuscripts, book chapters, and abstracts. Before her current role, she served as chair of her department from 2012-2020.

Katherine McKinney, MD, MS, professor of internal medicine, is the senior associate dean for graduate medical education. She graduated from UK residency and fellowship programs and has served in graduate medical education leadership since 2013. As UK faculty she has taught many different courses and workshops for medical students, residents, and other health care trainees. She has also served on the National Board of Medical Examiners Patient Safety Test Development Material Committee, writing patient safety and quality improvement questions for the United States Medical Licensing Examination. Her outstanding teaching was recognized with the Academy of Medical Educator Excellence in Medical Education Award (previously the Abraham Flexner Five Star Master Educator Award) in 2013. She also serves as a primary care physician in the UK general internal medicine group. 

Stephanie White, MD, MS, associate professor of pediatrics, is the senior associate dean for medical student education. She joined the college in 2020 as the associate dean for diversity and inclusion, leading a dynamic team to achieve important milestones for the college to grow as an inclusive organization. Notably, she was part of the 2022-2023 class of fellows for the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM) Program for Women at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Dr. Garvy (BG), Dr. McKinney (KM), and Dr. White (SW) have made – and continue to make – extraordinary contributions to the field of academic medicine. In the following Q&A, they explain what their roles mean to them and their plans for continued progress.

Q: Why did you go into academic medicine or research?

BG: I went into research because I love puzzles. I love trying to figure out how something works and I love new data, knowing something nobody else has seen. Before I went to graduate school, I taught junior high school science. I always have had a love of teaching, and so an academic career was just a great fit for me, teaching and research.

KM: Initially after residency, I explored going into private practice, but I ended up having an opportunity to do a fellowship in patient safety and a master’s in educational policy and evaluation. I also became involved in the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course, first as a preceptor and then as co-course director. After focusing primarily on learning how to be a clinician “straight through” medical school and residency, these experiences really opened my eyes to educational methods and curriculum development. I discovered that I really enjoyed contributing ‘behind the scenes’ to taking care of patients – in other words, developing systems and processes to support training for physicians and other health professionals.

SW: People find their way to academic medicine through many paths; in my case, academic medicine found me. As a first-generation college student and the only physician in my family, I never considered who would teach me as a medical student or resident. However, during my pediatrics residency, I had several meaningful connections with faculty mentors who consistently met with me to discuss career options. These mentors shaped my career, provided sponsorship, and framed my perspective of the endless possibilities of academic medicine. Ultimately, academic medicine allowed me to continue the things I loved during residency: taking care of patients, connecting with learners, and contributing to improving systems.

Q: What are your goals for your area of education?

BG: In biomedical education, it is my goal to make sure the UK College of Medicine provides a welcoming, safe, and academically exciting place to learn. I want learners to be able to challenge themselves and to reach their career goals.

KM: My graduate medical education goals are really not mine as much as they are always driven by our community’s feedback about where we are now and where we need to go. Several “bucket list” projects include continuing to expand our institutional career development opportunities for residents and fellows, in addition to providing more efficient data access resources to our learners and faculty to support quality improvement projects. One overarching goal is ensuring our training programs are resourced to sustain the great work they are doing. We’ve grown a lot – by number of programs and number of trainees – and it’s important for us to ensure with our growth that we not only sustain educational excellence but ensure bandwidth and support for educational innovation.

SW: My vision for the Office of Medical Education is to become the preferred choice for medical school in the region, not based on our land-grant mission, but because of what’s wildly possible. We will do this through collaboration, innovation, and following UK’s strategic plan of putting students first.

Q: How have you found and/or fostered a sense of belonging and community at the UK College of Medicine?

BG: One of the things we have done is provide more tools for faculty to be able to provide a comfortable community for learners within their labs. In collaboration with the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development and the Office of Research, we put in place a mentoring program for all new faculty, and this fall, I am going to departmental faculty meetings to do continuing mentor education. Trainees spend a large proportion of their time in the labs they work in, and mentors and staff are key to helping them feel a sense of belonging. Most of our mentors are conscientious and provide an excellent environment for learners, but mentoring is a learned skill, so we are working at helping faculty grow in their mentoring skills.

KM: I’ve found I can really connect with people when focused on a common goal or project. So when I’ve been able to get to know folks through working on a committee or workgroup with them, or as part of a care team, that’s when I’ve felt part of a community due to that common purpose. 

My life is crazy busy outside of work due to family commitments, so it’s infrequent that I get the chance to really connect with colleagues unless attending a conference or event. Coming to work and being able to collaborate with people who have similar goals and interests, but who also care about people, is really energizing, and why I love my job and want to keep coming back to work at UK!

SW: I am fortunate to be part of several communities in the College of Medicine and UK. Having served as the associate dean for diversity and inclusion, I had the unique opportunity to help grow and foster a sense of belonging for others in the college. In doing so, connections to students, staff, and faculty throughout the college and the broader University have been invaluable. As the senior associate dean for medical student education, one of my primary goals is ensuring that all our campuses feel part of our UK family. Sometimes, this is easier said than done when we are separated by distance and different time zones!

Fostering a sense of belonging for others is a practice that must be done every day, with every decision, so that it becomes part of our fabric. I do not claim to have it all figured out or be perfect in execution, but we are better together, and thus, I am committed to being intentional and making it a priority.