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Family ties: Siblings, mother-son duo find home at KU Wichita

March 25, 2020

Josh and Jacob Umscheid

Siblings Jacob and Josh Umscheid attended KU School of Medicine-Wichita and are now residents together in KU School of Medicine-Wichita's Pediatric Residency Program.

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

At KU Wichita, some students and residents develop close, almost family-like, bonds.

But the family ties are real for KU School of Medicine-Wichita pediatrics residents and siblings Josh and Jacob Umscheid and for mom Linda Smith, scheduled to complete her doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree in May 2020, and her son, Dylan LaRosa, who will follow in her footsteps this August at KU School of Pharmacy-Wichita.

Brotherly respect

The brotherly love and respect between Josh and Jacob Umscheid were evident as the pair joked around during a recent interview and explained why they chose pediatrics for their residency program. The fact that they were wearing similar red and black plaid shirts wasn't planned, they explained, just like both hadn't planned on becoming doctors after graduating from Andover Central High School.

Initially, Josh, the oldest by two years, was planning to major in engineering when he went to Kansas State University as an undergraduate.

Jacob, on the other hand, knew he wanted to go into the medical profession after being an ambulance driver during the summer before college at KU in Lawrence.

"I got people to the hospital and passed them off, but I wanted more responsibility to help people at their lowest," Jacob said about working as an emergency medical technician with Mulvane and Butler County EMS crews.

As the pair stayed in touch while in college, Jacob would often tell Josh "about how cool premed was at KU," Josh recalled.

Jacob and Josh UmscheidJosh decided a medical career would be a better fit for him, as well. He'd also become interested in medicine as a fan of the TV show "House, M.D." "I know this sounds dumb and uninformed, but it's the honest truth," said Josh about having a fictional show inspire a career. The reality of practicing medicine, of course, is nothing like TV, he added.

While KU and K-State may be in-state rival universities, there was no sibling rivalry when it came to the pair deciding to go to KU School of Medicine and accepting residencies with the KUSM-Wichita Department of Pediatrics. Both like that their final two years of medical school and residencies brought them back to the Wichita area, where they had grown up and still have family.

"We were both born at Wesley," Josh said. "I thought it would be fun to work at the hospital where I was born."

With their easy smiles and quick humor, they said they are better suited to work with kids.

"We have to be kind of ridiculous to work with kids. If we went into a kid's exam room all serious, they'd be mortified," said Josh, a second-year resident. "I love seeing babies every day."

While Jacob may have influenced Josh's move to a medical career, Jacob said that Josh indirectly motivates him.

Jacob, a first-year resident, joked he's going to have to figure out how to one-up his older brother who was named resident teacher of the year and will be chief resident in his third and final year of residency. To that, Josh replied, "He's being so modest. He's so much smarter than me."

The two are enjoying their proximity during their residencies as they anticipate they will go their separate ways to pursue fellowships in specialized pediatric areas: Josh in nonoperative pediatric orthopaedics and Jake in pediatric cardiology.

‘Looking forward ... to experiencing what she's experienced'

Seeing a child get excited and motivated is rewarding for parents, especially when it's for a shared pursuit.

"It means a lot that he has seen the passion I have and all the studying I've had to do, sometimes not seeing him and his (twin) sister for a few days, and to have him still choose (pharmacy)," said Linda Smith about her son's choice to follow in her footsteps to attend pharmacy school.

Her 20-year-old son, Dylan LaRosa, is currently a full-time student at Butler Community College and works part time as a technician at a Wichita Dillons pharmacy. After being a lifeguard at McConnell Air Force Base, Dylan applied for a job at the pharmacy and found he really enjoyed the work.

"It was fun to see because he got excited and he doesn't usually get excited," Linda said.Linda Smith and Dylan LaRosa

For Linda, a nontraditional student and the wife of an active duty Air Force noncommissioned officer, the path to pharmacy school wasn't a straight route. With her husband stationed in North Carolina, where she finished an undergraduate degree in psychology, Linda started researching places that had an Air Force base and a pharmacy school in close proximity. The family found both of their requirements in one city - Wichita.

Linda said after getting her bachelor's degree in psychology, she realized she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. When family kept asking her to research prescription drug treatment for her mom's heart condition, she found something about pharmacy clicked.

"I love puzzles and digging into things and everything about Pharm.D. appealed to me," Linda said. "So, I put both feet in and haven't looked back."

As a nontraditional student, Linda said she has been "taking advantage of all experiences available." She's involved in several pharmacy student organizations, including Phi Lambda Sigma, and is part of lobbying efforts with the American Pharmacists Association. She's also participated in medical missions to Kenya.

"I'm actually looking forward to (pharmacy school) and to experiencing what she's experienced," said Dylan.

For his mom, that's good news to hear.

"The Wichita campus has become like family to me," Linda said," and I hope he finds the same family I found."

KU School of Medicine-Wichita
Last modified: Mar 26, 2020
Media Inquiries:

Belinda Venters
316-293-3536
bventers@kumc.edu

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Public Affairs
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214

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