Transformational Times

Words of Hope, Character & Resilience from our Virtual Community

Friday, April 14, 2023

In This Issue:

Director's Corner

Adina Kalet, MD, MPH: Ode to Dr. Schwartz: The urban country doctor 


Poetry Corner

  • Country Doctors, CJ Dennis

Call For Submissions!

Transformational Times will have parent issues this year, around Mothers Day and Fathers Day. We are looking for a variety of submissions ranging from untraditional families, advice, what you wish you knew, or anything else folks might like to share around parenting. If you are interested, please reach out below if you are interested.

Reach Out
  • What is your favorite spring flower?
Let Us Know!

Answers from last week: Do you have a seasonal dish from your childhood that you look forward to each spring, please describe it, and the memory and/or person associated with it. 

-Creamed asparagus with boiled egg slices on Toast! I was a foster child of my great aunt and uncle who lived on a farm. The first several times my aunt served it, I wasn't a fan. What kid likes vegetables for breakfast? But I learned to enjoy going out to fence row to cut the asparagus at sunset, prior to it being planned for breakfast. Every time I fix it for my family, I think fondly of my relatives who loved me like a daughter! -Marsha Malloy, RN

-When I was a kid and my dad was left in charge of dinner, which was not very often, he would say "kids, we're going to have a surprise for dinner"... it was never a surprise. Dinner would be one of two things, either boxed mac and cheese with tuna, yuck, or hash browns and Italian sausage, with a runny fried egg on top. The latter dish has fondly been dubbed "Tommy Surprise" and is a meal that all of us adult children continue to make for ourselves. -Justine Espisito

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Director's Corner

Ode to Dr. Schwartz: The Urban Country Doctor 

Adina Kalet, MD, MPH

After reading Christopher Knight’s loving essay about his grandfather, country doctor Charles Kemper, published in this Transformational Times issue, Dr. Kalet gets curious about the family physician of her childhood who, despite practicing in a wholly different setting, shared much with the iconic country doctor. She dedicates her 100th Transformational Times Director’s Corner to Dr. Schwartz and all the physicians of his era...


I could, but usually didn’t, visit Dr. Schwartz in my pajamas. When we were little, with fever and sore throats, my mother would wrap my brother and me in blankets, take us from our two-bedroom apartment down six floors in the elevator, and traverse the lobby to the other side of the building. We would take a seat in the front room of his office and wait for him to emerge from his inner sanctum. 

Continue Reading


In memory of a country doctor

By Christopher Knight, MA


Some people don’t just follow a template; they do life their own way. An unlikely country doctor serves as an example for what the author imagines medicine and a healthy work-life balance should look like, and inspires the author’s work at MCW-Central Wisconsin every day… 

This weekend, we will celebrate the life of a country doc. Some of you may remember him as the 99-year-old keynote speaker from MCW-CW’s 2nd White Coat Ceremony, Charles Kemper, MD -- also affectionately known as the bird doctor or Doc Charlie from Chippewa Falls.

Graduating from high school at age 15, his mother forced a gap-year on him before he enrolled at Duke University, where he and his roommate were founding members of the La Crosse team. The team became a powerhouse, winning three national titles while he was there. He later attended medical school at the University of Maryland, which he considered the true national powerhouse.

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The unexpected question. Honor and integrity.

By: Leighton P. Mark, MD

In this essay, Dr. Mark recounts aspects of a conversation with Dr. John Yoon about important attributes a good physician should possess. Dr. Mark draws from over four decades of experience as a physician...

I admit to having read almost every issue of Transformational Times since it started showing up in my inbox several years ago. Perhaps being retired affords me the luxury of time and attention to read all my emails, including those that others might automatically relegate to the junk folder.

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Environmental sustainability and health: What more can we do for our grandchildren, patients, and communities?

By John Meurer, MD, MBA

Dr. Meurer tackles the tough, personal responsibility issue behind increasingly frequent, severe climate disasters such as storms, heat waves, and wildfires, with apologies for triggering any traumatic memories for readers...


Since 1900, energy consumption in the United States from petroleum, natural gas and coal has increased by 80 quadrillion thermal units contributing greenhouse gases to global warming. In the past 50 years, Milwaukee’s average winter temperature has increased 9°F. 

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Part 1: Looking for sea glass: Viktor Frankl and the ever-present, but illusory nature of meaning 


By Quinn McKinnon, MA 

This first in a series of pieces about “Why Meaning Matters?” explores (and underscores) the importance of the ideas of famed psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl, MD, PhD, who asserts in his book, “The Will to Meaning,” that meaning is ever-present, even under the most absurd, inhumane circumstances – something Dr. Frankl experienced firsthand. McKinnon puts these ideas in conversation with his own experiences while considering the direct implications for flourishing and the ends of medicine... 

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Kern Institute in the News

-Wisconsin Medical Journal recently published the four abstracts of our award winners of the 2022 MCW IHER Conference in the oral presentations and poster research and innovations categories. One of which is our very own Lana Minshew, PhD, MEd.

-Catherine (Cassie) Ferguson, MD wins the Faculty Vitality Award.

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Country Doctors

By: CJ Dennis

The quiet country doctors

Of many a country town,

Whose lives are spent to service bent,

With scant hope of renown

Those sturdy country doctors,

That walk the healer's way,

At beck and call of one and all

That pain be smoothed away.

Those patient country doctors,

That journey day and night

By country roads to far abodes

To ease some sufferer's plight;

Thro' fire and flood and tempest

They make their pilgrimage

To bring release and healing peace,

The comforters of age.

Those modern country doctors,

They do not advertise;

Surcease they bring for suffering

And hope to pain-filled eyes.

These be their ends to be man's friends,

And so they shape and plan,

Divorced from greed to serve man's need,

And give their lives to man.

Those quiet country doctors,

Unsung, unknown to fame,

Refusing none what may be done

In skilful healing's name

Philosophers, friends, mentors,

Thro' pain and death and birth,

And who shall say that such as they

Are not salt of the earth? 

Submit a Poem for Next Week

REACH Well-Being Session

April 18, 2023

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. CDT


Well Organized: Using Living Organized as a Tool for Well-Being

All students, trainees, faculty and staff are invited to join!

In this session, we'll unpack the parallels of living organized with our wellness. Through storytelling, we'll hear about people's everyday challenges with getting organized, share practical tips for overcoming mental barriers, and explore some of the health benefits of living organized.

Register Here

 Please plan to join us for a Grand Rounds presentation with Sabena Y. Jameel, BMBS, BMedSci, DFSRH, MMedED, FRCGP, PhD

Truth-Telling in Medicine


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

9:00-10:00 am CDT

This Grand Rounds seeks to gauge the boundaries of the practically wise physician when it comes to truth-telling in medicine. Character, caring, and competence all inform the way the truth is told. We will explore practical clinical examples of when the truth, and nothing but the truth, has been told while exploring how “the truth told slant”* may be more appropriate in particular contexts. We will discuss autonomy and the right not to be deceived pitched against a proven flowchart that justifies deception.

*Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Register Here

Please join us to explore, discuss, and align our efforts

to ADVANCE equity-focused initiatives in the learning


Thursday, April 20, 2023

9:00am - 1:00pm

MCW Alumni Center

The summit will highlight how MCW uses data to advance equity in the learning

environment with a focus on learners in three different stages:

1. Aspiring Health Science Learners

2. Health Science Students (e.g. medical, pharmacy, graduate)

3. Post Graduate Learners and Trainees

Target Audience

This summit is intended for faculty, staff, trainees, and students who are interested in

learning and discussing how the use of data can advance equity in the learning


Learn More
Register Here

Understanding Medical Professional Identity and

Character Development

April 28, 2023

8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CDT


Professional identity formation (PIF), as defined by the Carnegie Foundation, is the “ongoing self-reflective process involving habits of thinking, feeling, and acting” as a physician. The holistic development of these capacities of PIF can be interpreted as essential qualities of one's character and integrity.


Education in the professions must design learning environments that center self-reflection within the PIF curriculum and provide growth opportunities that challenge while offering support and guidance for PIF growth, as well as the learner's well-being. In this symposium, we aim to convene medical education researchers, instructors, and others to engage on the state of PIF research, the goals, and interests of attendees, going beyond the confines of reductionist approaches. Our overarching goal is to transcend to holistic and humanistic integration spaces, weaving a central thread that is crucial to the person’s professional self.

Keynote Presentation

Can You Imagine How Far They've Come?:

PIF As Immigration

Presented by

Lara Varpio, PhD 

Visit our website for more information about the program, including agenda, topics, and presenters.  

Register Here
The Transformational Times publishes weekly, delivering stories of hope, character and resilience to our virtual community.

Jeff Fritz, PhDEditor-in-Chief

Editorial Board: Bruce Campbell, MDKathlyn Fletcher, MD, Adina Kalet, MD, Wendy Peltier, MD, Karen Herzog, Justine Espisito, Nabil Attlassy, Julia Bosco, Ana Istrate, Linda Nwumeh, Wolf Pulsiano, Eileen PetersonAnna Visser, Sophie Voss, James Wu & Emelyn Zaworski

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