Transformation Journal
Volume 2 | Issue 1 | January 2018

What is Character?

Ryan Spellecy, PhD
Character is important to our work at the Kern Institute because we seek to educate physicians whom we ourselves would want to care for us in our most vulnerable hours. If the Kern Institute is to succeed at transforming medical education via the Triple Aim of Character, Competence, and Caring, one task we must complete is a robust definition of character in medicine. This is necessary to guide our efforts related to character, whether that be evaluating character in the admissions process, creating a learning and working environment in which character can flourish, or determining how to measure character, and so forth. To that end, we set out to define character for the Kern Institute in mid-2017 and arrived at a working definition last December.

To craft this definition, we conducted character listening sessions with faculty, staff, and students, the results of which were presented at the Association for Moral Education conference in St. Louis last November. Our NTN partner school, Vanderbilt, conducted similar sessions which also included patients, an activity we will accomplish in early 2018. We also worked with our other NTN partners as part of a collaborative work group on character to further refine our definition, which we will continue to refine as we move forward. The following is a brief synopsis of that more robust definition of character.

Character is an internal state that motivates our actions, and consists of character traits as well as practical wisdom that guides and regulates the exercise of character traits. Everyone has character, but at the Kern Institute, we are focused on the discovery, nurturing, and celebration of good character. Character is consistent over time, and requires authenticity as a deep reflection of who we are. This does not mean that a physician of character will never make a mistake, or will never act unethically. These mistakes or lapses are an opportunity for growth. Caring is a character trait, but it is also essential to practical wisdom for the physician. Lastly, we believe that Character can and should be “caught, taught, and sought”.
Collaborative Work Groups
The National Transformation Network (NTN) is working collaboratively across several areas to help inform its 2018 initial priorities. Work groups are addressing issues such as women’s leadership, faculty development, holistic admissions, and the learning environment, among others. Over the coming year it is expected that the recommendations resulting from the work groups will form the basis of the National Transformation Network’s first collaborative initiatives.
Learn more about the NTN at 

A Kern Connection Café Discussion

Promoting Resiliency and Avoiding Burnout
Join us for a Café discussion on Promoting Resiliency and Avoiding Burnout,
facilitated by Jennifer Apps , PhD and José Fran co, MD.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018
3:00-4:00 pm
Medical College of Wisconsin, HRC Auditorium
Light refreshments will be served | To register, click here.
Medical Education:
Where Are We and Where Should We Be?
The Kern Institute proudly welcomes
Molly Cooke, MD , MACP, who will present January Grand Rounds at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Cooke is a Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and Co-Author of Educating Physicians: A Call for Reform of Medical School and Residency. As a Senior Scholar of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, she co-directed a national study of medical education.
Thursday, January 25, 2018
9:00 am
Medical College of Wisconsin, HRC Auditorium
To register, click here.
Identity and Resiliency:
An Exploration of the Black Experience
in Academic Medicine
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health proudly welcomes keynote speaker Feranmi Okanlami, MD , who will chronicle his journey of resiliency in the face of unbelievable circumstances while successfully achieving his dream of becoming a physician.

Dr. Okanlami is a Stanford alum who earned his MD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and is currently completing his Family Medicine residency. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
4:30-7:30 pm
University of Wisconsin, Health Sciences Learning Center
To register, click here.
Webinar on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience
February 2, 2018
1:30-2:30 EST
To register, click here.

The National Academy of Medicine's Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience will host a webinar to release several resources and provide a first look at an online repository aimed at providing users with resources related to clinician burnout and promising solutions to promote clinician well-being. 
Webinar speakers will give an overview of these new resources and will provide updates on the work of the Action Collaborative. The webinar presenters include:
  • Moderator - Charlee Alexander, National Academy of Medicine
  • Research, Data, and Metrics Presenter - Robert Harbaugh, Society of Neurological Surgeons
  • Conceptual Model Presenter - Art Hengerer, Federation of State Medical Boards
  • External Factors and Workflow Presenter - Daisy Smith, American College of Physicians
  • Messaging and Communications Presenter - Neil Busis, American Academy of Neurology
Utilizing Character to Rediscover Joy
in the Practice of Medicine

The Kern Institute and the MCW Office of Diversity & Inclusion proudly present February Grand Grounds:

A video presentation of David Brooks, author of The Road to Character, from the 2017 AAMC Opening Plenary Session, with a discussion facilitated by Ryan Spellecy, PhD.
Thursday, February 22, 2018
9:00 a.m.
Medical College of Wisconsin, Alumni Center
To register, click here.
Register Today
for this UCSF Innovative Medical
Education Conference
The University of California San Francisco and the Medical College of Wisconsin will present a three-day intensive course for medical educators designed to explore:
  • Emerging trends in medical education
  • Strategies for curricular innovation
  • Innovative teaching methods to both clinical and foundational science teaching

Flexible programming topics will be offered in areas such as teaching clinical reasoning, creating equitable and inclusive learning environments, new models of faculty development, and curricular innovations.

For more information or to register for this course, click here: Developing Medical Educators of the 21st Century .
Educator's Symposium Highlights
Mindfulness, Joy, and Humanism in Medical Education
On January 5-6, 2018, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth hosted their 2nd Annual Educators’ Symposium. This year’s topic focused on mindfulness, joy, and humanism in medical education. The keynote address was given by Dr. Richard Levin, President and CEO of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Over 130 faculty and students registered for the events that included a medical education research poster session and three tracks of breakout groups for attendees:
  • Mindfulness, Joy, and Humanism in Medical Education
  • Optimizing Teaching and Learning
  • Evaluation and Feedback

Of particular interest to NTN partners was a session led by Dartmouth faculty, William Nelson, PhD, (pictured above) and Greg Ogrinc MD, MS, discussing character in medical education. Participants at the character session focused on how to identify virtues during admissions process, how to teach virtues in the curriculum, and how to assure competence of virtues at graduation.
MCW Team working on Culture and Systems Transformation
This team, led by Chris Decker, MD, is dedicated to innovating culture and systems through collaboration with MCW leaders and departments, as well as key healthcare system partners. The work this group engages in is to support and guide the efforts of the other three teams, which are focused on transformational change centered around faculty, students, and curriculum. In addition to supporting these three areas, this team also leads overarching efforts to promote women’s leadership and wellness for faculty, students, and staff at MCW, as well as affecting national change in these areas through the National Transformation Network. 
Upcoming MCW Events
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Journal Club
4:00-5:00 pm | MCW Discovery Classroom
Led by Jos é Franco, MD
To register, please click here.

Thursday, March 29, 2018
Grand Rounds
9:00 am | MCW Alumni Center
Trading Places by David Carbone, MD, PhD, James Comprehensive Cancer Center,
The Ohio State University
January's Book Suggestion:
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
After decades of research, Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, PhD, discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a  fixed mindset —those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset —those who believe that abilities can be developed. 

In the latest edition, Dweck introduces a phenomenon she calls false growth mindset and guides people toward adopting a deeper, truer growth mindset. She also expands the mindset concept beyond the individual, applying it to the cultures of groups and organizations. With the right mindset, you can motivate those you lead, teach, and love—to transform their lives and your own.
Transformation Journal is produced monthly by MedEd Next
MCW Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education