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Putting people first: Dr. George Holcomb receives UMKC Alumni award

The question is obvious and unavoidable: What’s a world-renowned physician-surgeon-scholar doing in an MBA program?

For Dr. George W. Holcomb III (EMBA ’02), surgeon-in-chief at Children’s Mercy, the program provided far more benefit than he ever imagined.

Shortly after being named to his medical management post, Holcomb enrolled in the Executive MBA program offered by the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“I really wanted to better understand business principles and financial management so that I could more effectively run our Department of Surgery,” Dr. Holcomb said. “What I learned most during my time at the Bloch School was operational management and human resources, and these areas have helped me much more in my position as Surgeon-in-Chief than understanding an income statement or balance sheet.”

Inspired by the people-management skills he received at Bloch, he advocated for Children’s Mercy to engage with the Bloch Executive Education Center to train many of his colleagues – both physicians and non-physician executives.

His service to his patients, his hospital, his university and his community are the reasons why Dr. Holcomb – known as “Whit” to his colleagues – was chosen as the 2017 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award from the Bloch School.

Best known for his interest in minimally invasive surgery in infants and children, and his emphasis on evidence-based medicine, Dr. Holcomb is the author of more than 240 peer-reviewed publications, 50 book chapters, and editor of six textbooks.

In addition to serving as surgeon-in-chief, he is also a senior vice president and director of the Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at Children’s Mercy. He also serves as a professor of pediatric surgery at the UMKC School of Medicine.

As an expert in minimally invasive surgery, he has given presentations and attended conferences across the globe, from Europe to Russia, China, South America, India and Cuba.

“I became intrigued with the use of minimally invasive surgery as, even in its early days, it was obvious that there was much less pain and discomfort to the child, which allowed a faster healing process,” he said.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes 16 alumni and one family with top honors. UMKC will honor Holcomb and other outstanding alumni at the 2017 Alumni Awards Luncheon April 20 on campus. The luncheon is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. Last year’s luncheon attracted more than 500 attendees and garnered more than $120,000 in scholarship funds.


Read the article via UMKC.

Learn more about the Department of Surgery at Children's Mercy.