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Jewish doc recognized as ‘Smartest Diabetes Expert’

Patients of Dr. Michael Sokol should be pleased to learn that their doctor was recognized as the “Smartest Diabetes Expert in America” for the month of August.

“I am honored to have received this recognition,” said Dr. Sokol. “I have spent my career in pursuit of the highest knowledge for my field, which benefits my patients.”

Who makes that decision you might ask? The award is presented by MDLinx, an innovative Internet-based service that allows physicians and other healthcare professionals to stay current with academic literature.

“It’s a Web-based program and we’re given a quiz every day. Anywhere between 200 and 300 doctors in the field of diabetes participate at any one time,” he explained.

This quiz ranks doctors on the accuracy of their answers as well as the speed of their answers.

“So during the month of August I apparently got the highest score,” he said. “Since I’ve been doing it I’ve regularly been ranked in the top 10.”

Dr. Sokol said several other Jewish doctors in the area also regularly take this quiz, which is about a year old. He praises friend and fellow endocrinologist Dr. Andrew Green, noting that he often does well on the quiz.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he hasn’t won this as well,” said Dr. Sokol, who enjoys playing softball at the Jewish Community Center and bowling with B’nai B’rith when he has some time away from patients.

Dr. Sokol earned his medical degree from Northeastern Ohio University’s College of Medicine when he was only 23 years old. Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, he began his undergraduate studies when he was just 17 years old and completed both his undergrad and medical degrees in only six years because he attended class every summer.

“I enjoyed it, so I was lucky,” he said.

Dr. Sokol subsequently created and completed a combined internal Medicine and Psychiatry Residency at Brown University. During that tenure he assisted in teaching, patient-interviewing classes and co-authored several peer-reviewed articles and a textbook chapter.

Dr. Sokol did his endocrinology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a commissioned major in the U.S. Army Military Corps. He then served as assistant chief and then chief of endocrinology at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, associated with the Medical College of Georgia, during which time he was honored with the Army Commendation Medal. Dr. Sokol was also awarded the Masters Clinical Award in Psychopharmacology from the Neuroscience Education Institute.

Since 1993, Dr. Sokol has practiced internal medicine, endocrinology and psychiatry at Statland Medical Group at Menorah Medical Center.

Steven D. Wilkinson, Menorah’s president and chief executive officer, said Dr. Sokol is an asset to Menorah Medical Center’s mission of providing high-quality care to patients.

“His unwavering commitment to stay current on advances in treatment and technology in his field demonstrates a deep dedication to evidence-based clinical processes to achieve the best outcomes for his patients. This is what award-winning medicine is about,” the hospital’s CEO said.

Because Dr. Sokol became a physician when he was so young, he explained that he ended up with three specialties because he had “some extra time on his hands.”

“I created a residency that did not exist before at Brown University. I did a combined internal medicine and psychiatry residency and that residency still exists,” he said.

But when he was done, he decided he didn’t want to practice internal medicine or psychiatry full time. Since he had always been interested in what was originally called psychoneuroendocrinology, he decided to do an endocrinology fellowship as a commissioned major in the U.S. Army, which he did at Walter Reed Medical Center during Operation Desert Storm.

He chose the Army for two reasons. It had a very nice endocrinology program, “and I thought it would be an adventure.”

“It was great. I loved it. I’d recommend it for anyone,” said the doctor, who spent all his active duty stateside, two years in Washington, D.C., and two years in Augusta, Ga.

While he practices all three specialties, he said his focus is endocrinology. He enjoys the three specialties and said every day in the office is different, depending on whatever his patients’ needs are.

“I don’t like to be academically bored,” he noted.

He and his wife Shari chose to settle in Kansas City because Shari’s aunt and uncle, Ruth and the late Rabbi Morris Margolies, lived here.

“They had children here and we wanted to be somewhere where we had a core group of family,” he said.

Dr. Sokol currently serves as director of medical education at Menorah Medical Center and most recently as president of the Heartland Chapter of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. As a result of peer voting, Dr. Sokol has been listed since 2007 in the field of endocrinology in KC Magazine’s annual “Super Doc” feature. He also is a member of Rep. Kevin Yoder’s Health Policy Subcommittee; a group that helps the Kansas congressman develop ideas on health-related matters.

In addition, once a year Dr. Sokol goes to Washington to talk to Missouri and Kansas congressmen and senators on behalf of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists to inform them of important medical issues affecting our patients.” One of the top items on its agenda right now is the Diabetes Initiative, which is currently on Congress’ agenda and will raise awareness and direct monies toward the care of patients with diabetes.

A member of Kehilath Israel Synagogue, the busy doc enjoys volunteering and has served on the board as a vice president for the past seven years.

“The more you volunteer the more rewards you find yourself receiving,” he said.

“I also come from a family of community volunteers. My aunt, my mother’s sister, was the former president of the Akron Jewish Community Center and my father’s father, my grandfather, was one of the leaders of the Akron Jewish community,” he continued.

In a nod to Jewish tradition, Dr. Sokol said his parents always told him they didn’t care what he did professionally as long as he was able to teach it. He abides by their wishes.

“It’s not uncommon for me to have residents and students spend a month with me,” he said.