Student Doctor Hannah Caplan has always been a helper. As a young girl, she spent summers and weekends baby-sitting and volunteering in her community. The Kansas City native knew at an early age that she wanted a career in health care. She recalls watching medical docuseries on television and being quite intrigued with episodes that depicted real-life traumas and how emergency personnel care for patients.
Years later, Hannah gave serious consideration to pursuing a pre-medicine track in college. However, she questioned if she could meet the rigorous academic demands it takes to become a physician. So, she began a journey toward becoming an athletic trainer. It was in the field of medicine. It offered exposure to high-acuity care, and it would allow her to help others. She thought it checked all the boxes. She was accepted into the athletic training program at University of Kansas (KU). Still, she felt something was missing.
The summer before she started her sophomore year at KU, tragedy struck the Caplan family when her older sister died from an accidental overdose. The loss left Hannah and her family forever changed. For Hannah, it became a defining moment and one that altered the trajectory of her life. “The unexpected death of my sister made me realize that life is short and tomorrow is never promised. I knew I needed to chase my dream and stop letting fear hold me back,” she said. And chase her dream is exactly what Hannah did. When she returned to KU for her sophomore year, she dropped out of the athletic training program and enrolled as a pre-med major.
During her tenure at KCU, Hannah has spent much of her time rooted in service to the University and her classmates. In fall 2019, as a student in the Biomedical Sciences program, Hannah was elected to serve as a Student Government Association (SGA) class representative. The following year, as an osteopathic medicine student (OMS), Hannah chose to once again pursue leadership as an SGA leader and was elected class vice president. Her commitment to serving the KCU student body continued into her second year as an OMS when she was elected to serve as SGA executive president for the 2021-22 academic year.
Beyond her service in SGA, Hannah has proven her leadership abilities in many other noteworthy areas. She served on KCU’s Community Outreach Task Force. During her first and second years of medical school, she was selected as a peer tutor, leading tutoring sessions for students in both the Biomedical Sciences and Osteopathic Medicine programs. She committed time to serve as an executive board member for the Advocates for Diversity in Medicine (ADM), a club committed to bringing future physicians together to learn from and celebrate their differences for the benefit of future patients.
Outside of her KCU commitments, Hannah has demonstrated her passion for providing care to underserve and marginalized populations throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area. Since 2016, she has volunteered regularly with Care Beyond the Boulevard, an organization that provides medical care to the homeless population. Her long-standing relationship with the organization has led to opportunities for other KCU students to follow in her footsteps and gain invaluable experiences for the underserved.
Hannah recently received the American Osteopathic Foundation’s Sterling Welch, DO, Scholars Grant in recognition of her outstanding academic achievement and leadership among her peers.
“I have witnessed how unselfishly Hannah has given her personal time to serve the needs of the broader community surrounding the University and how she has leveraged her leadership roles to bring about positive change,” said Sara Selkirk, KCU assistant vice provost of student services. “It has been a true privilege to see what she has accomplished and to know that she will bring the very best interests to the field of medicine and to her future patients.”