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Dr. Marjorie Spurrier Sirridge

Year of Birth / Death

1921 - 2014

Medical School

University of Kansas School of Medicine



Career Path

Administration: Medical school deans
Internal medicine: Hematology
Education: Teaching
Dr. Marjorie Spurrier Sirridge


Dr. Marjorie Sirridge developed the "docent" system for medical education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and was one of the school's three original docents.
Dr. Marjorie Sirridge was one of the founding faculty members of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.


While in high school I realized that the study of science was not only easy for me, but that I enjoyed it. Most of the women in my family had been teachers and I felt that I had the potential to teach, but also to do something else. I enrolled as a pre-medical student in college but always left open a possibility that I would not be able to go to medical school, so I arranged my curriculum to allow me to become a science teacher or a medical technologist. Fortunately I scored extremely well on the MCAT and was finally encouraged to seek admission to medical school.


Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., recognized the benefits of exchange and collaboration in medical education and practice. She launched initiatives to help teachers learn from their students, and to improve opportunities for women in medicine to the benefit of their colleagues and patients. As an exemplar of her own philosophy she proudly served as a role model for physicians who balance family life with a demanding career.

In 1944 Dr. Sirridge graduated first in her class from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. During her post-graduate work Dr. Sirridge was informed that it was not acceptable to become pregnant while completing the residency program, so she dropped out of medicine for a time. When she later returned to medicine she specialized in hematology. Her book, Laboratory Evaluation of Hemostasis and Thrombosis, first published in 1967, has already gone through three editions.

As one of the founding faculty members of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine, Dr. Sirridge has taught medical philosophy to countless students since the school was established in 1971. Unlike most medical schools, UMKC combines undergraduate and medical programs to fully integrate the humanities, liberal arts, basic science, and clinical medicine throughout its six-year curriculum. A key component of the school's new model of medical education was incorporating early and continuing contact between students and a team of clinician-scholars called docents. One of the schools three original docents, Dr. Sirridge explained that the best patient care occurs when the health professionals themselves work as partners. This partnership includes the senior physician, the junior physician, and the student physician, and each teaches and is taught by the other.

While working closely with all levels of students through the docent system, Dr. Sirridge chaired the medical school's council on curriculum and was assistant dean for curriculum from 1985 through 1992. In 1997 Dr. Sirridge became dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and directed the school for two years. Because of their commitment to furthering the medical humanities, in 1992 Dr. Sirridge and her husband William Sirridge, M.D., endowed the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities at UMKC.

Due in large part to Dr. Sirridge's influence, UMKC School of Medicine holds one of the highest percentages of women medical students of any coeducational medical school in the country. Through her work at the school and her nationally published writings, Dr. Sirridge has helped women succeed in the medical profession. In 1983 Dr. Sirridge established the UMKC Programs for Women in Medicine to assist women students, physicians and faculty achieve equality in a still male-dominated system. Nationally, through articles in the Journal of the American Medical Women's Association and other publications, Dr. Sirridge has stressed the need for women to develop mentoring relationships with other women physicians. In one of her wide-reaching mentoring efforts, Dr. Sirridge compiled "Through a Woman Physician's 'I'," a collection of autobiographies of women physicians. Her own autobiography was included in In Her Own Words, published by E. P Dutton in 1989. In recognition of her efforts for women in medicine, each year the UMKC School of Medicine hosts the Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., Outstanding Women in Medicine Lecture series.

Throughout her life Dr. Sirridge has shown that women can achieve great things without sacrificing other aspects of their lives. "I feel that I have been an important role model for women and men because of my openness about my personal life and my commitment to family." This model of achievement without personal sacrifice is an inspiration to her own family. One son followed his parents' footsteps and is a physician; another son coupled a law degree with a master's degree in health sciences; the third son has a Ph.D. in psychology; and Dr. Sirridge's daughter, Mary holds her Ph.D. in philosophy.

Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

Financial support. My family was willing to do the best they could, but it meant getting a medical education at the lowest possible cost and working part time both in undergraduate school and medical school. Later it was the lack of a group of physicians to work with, particularly in research.

How do I make a difference?

I genuinely care about patients and I am a good and careful physician. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of patient care. Also I have a strong spirit of inquiry and despite working alone, I managed to do some reasonable research. I love teaching, particularly when students need help in really understanding the underlying physiologic processes. I feel that I have been an important role model for women and men, because of my openness about my personal life and my commitment to family. Also I have a strong commitment to the importance of medical humanities in the education of physicians and in service to the university and the community. Mainly, I guess I make a difference because I am proud to be a good doctor.

Who was my mentor?

My mother was my role model as teacher. My father in my spirit of inquiry. One woman physician whose first job was in student health at the school where I received my undergraduate degree. Two male hematologists who instilled in me a love of hematology as a science and as a chosen field of endeavor.

How has my career evolved over time?

My daughter, a philosopher, says I have had three careers: the first was as a practicing physician; the second was as a medical schoolteacher; and the third was as a teacher and supporter of the medical humanities as a part of a medical school curriculum. All have been satisfying and have enriched my life. My husband and I endowed the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities at UMKC School of Medicine and we feel very good about that endeavor. My career has always left me time for family and I feel very proud of our children and how their lives and careers have evolved. There have been many ups and downs but I have never felt that I made the wrong decision when I decided to be a physician.

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