Mary Frances and Tom Burke, ’79 and ’78
Co-owners, Burke and Burke, MDs

Mary Frances Burke (M.D. ’79) and Tom Burke (M.D. ’78) run their Wyoming medical practice much like their marriage: a partnership based on open, honest communication.

“Our practice was built on the value of establishing strong, functional relationships with our patients,” Tom says.

The couple met at the UMKC School of Medicine, but according to Mary Frances, it was not “love at first sight.” They were friends for three years before Tom asked her out, less than a month before he graduated.

“He was thinking a couple friendly dates to pass the weeks,” she says. “I had my sights on long term.”

Clearly, things didn’t go according to Tom’s plan. When he moved to Denver, the couple stayed in touch through love letters and weekly phone calls. A year later, Mary Frances graduated and moved to Denver; by August, they were engaged.

Over the course of his career, Tom has mentored dozens of doctors and medical students. He says none of that comes close to the benefits of collaborating with his wife.

“Through her eyes, I once again looked at my patients with wonder and appreciation,” he says. “We teach and learn from each other, and our patients benefit from both of our perspectives.”

Both agree their UMKC education shaped not just their medical practice, but their entire lives.

Mary Frances originally came to UMKC because she wanted to see patients from day one. She says that bedside experience gave her a deep respect for the vulnerability of patients.

“They are not a disease,” she says. “They are individuals, and deserve to be treated as such.”

Tom agrees, saying the bedside exams he conducted at UMKC helped him shape his practice today.

“I learned that listening to my patients was often the key to diagnosis,” he says. “I also learned not to take myself too seriously, and that I could share my humor with the rest of the team, including the patients.”

Today, they run Burke and Burke, MDs in Casper, Wyo. At the heart of the Burkes’ practice is a commitment to serving their community.

“Enabling people to grow through adversity and maximize their potential to leave this world a better place — there is no greater vocation on this earth,” Mary Frances says.

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