Transformational Times

Words of Hope, Character & Resilience from our Virtual Community

Friday, February 24, 2023

In This Issue:

Associate Director's Corner

Cassie Ferguson, MD: Cultivating Compassion


Reflection on Black History

IWill 3.0

Poetry Corner

  • Seeds of a Dream, by Michael Kofi Esson

Upcoming Events/Announcements

"In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute."

-Thurgood Marshall, first African American U.S. Supreme Court member

"The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression."

-W.E.B. Du Bois

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Associate Director's Corner

Cultivating Compassion

By Cassie Ferguson, MD

We have chosen a profession that demands we witness and remain present for the suffering of others. We can train ourselves to be compassionate, while avoiding burnout...

As a pediatric emergency medicine fellow, I spent several months in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), caring for the sickest kids in the hospital. Adrenaline, fear, and what I’d like to think was a healthy amount of denial ruled most of the call nights that I spent alone (the attending on call from home). I have never felt as singularly responsible for another human’s life as I did during those months. I placed hundreds of central lines and interpreted thousands of blood gases. I intubated and re-intubated, titrated pressors, managed renal failure, and helped to crash patients onto ECMO. I stood at the bedside of patients dying both quickly and slowly.

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Just Inquiry - No Judgement

By Jeff Fritz, PhD

Dr. Fritz reflects on the significant role a Mind-Body Facilitator Training Conference played in his understanding and ability to experience self-compassion...

Sometimes my pursuit of perfection and excellence can take a dark turn, and I become overly self-critical and judgmental. It oozes out.

My spouse, Bonnie, was the first to notice it last fall. “You’re letting the things around you steal your joy again (the again is my addition, but I could read it in her eyes); why do you let it (things, experiences, my emotional state) steal your joy?” I had to admit I was in a deep funk and struggled to respond. Feelings of judgment blocked my joy.

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Heart Attack

By Karen Herzog

A path from fear to grace…


Compassionate medical care gave my mom 43 more years of life after a heart attack at age 47.

I was 14 when the attack began while Mom was carrying hay to the calves on our family’s dairy farm in Iowa. For reasons I don’t understand, it took 24 hours for attending physicians at our small-town hospital to diagnose it. She was admitted for observation, then transferred by ambulance to a better-equipped hospital 30 miles away after tests confirmed her diagnosis the next day. Lack of communication did not give us confidence in her care. I was certain she was dying; a “heart attack” sounded brutal to a teenager.

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Self- Compassion Pie


Thekla Brumder Ross, PsyD

All you need is a cup of suffering and a cup of joy...

This recipe is allergy friendly and packed with a healthy dose of Buddhist psychology. Be prepared, it will require moments of reflection and pause. If you follow this recipe, you will taste loving kindness and equanimity.

You only need two ingredients

·      a cup of suffering

·      a cup of joy

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Thekla Brumder Ross, PsyD

A second-year medical student asked me on the first day of his longitudinal clerkship program, “Is self-compassion how we sustain a career in medicine?”...

I paused, took a deep breath, acknowledged the frog in my throat and the default negative thoughts on repeat in my mind about my imposter phenomena. I paused again and replied YES.

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Memories of Black History Month and Invisibility

By C. Greer Jordan, PhD, MBA

Doesn't every K- 12 school celebrate Black History Month?...

Growing up in Detroit, I thought every school celebrated Black History Month. I liked Black History month because some happening would take me away from the monotony of worksheets. But third- and eighth-grade Black History Month stand out in my memory. 

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IWill 3.0

To do or not to do


By Mindy Dwinell, PhD

Gender norms are social and cultural attitudes and expectations about behaviors, products, or professions, that are appropriate for individuals based on their gender identity. The IWill 3.0 Gender-Equity Pledge Campaign begins in March 2023 with the theme, "Broadening Gender Norms – Mitigating Stereotypes.” One of the potential pledges will be: “I Will examine how I perform, display, or embody the spectrum of masculinity and femininity in my work.” 

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Given the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria, please consider the following opportunities to serve our global community.


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Seeds of a Dream

By Michael Kofi Esson, M2

I know a tree: 

Discarded on the lonely mountains of despair, it was only but a seed, 

Battered and bruised by the heat of injustice, its roots rooted in pain, 

With a promise of hope, it sprouted for everyone to see, 

Covered by the showers of love, it rose from the fertile grounds of its mother’s womb with barks as strong as an ebony tree, 

It grew tall like Kilimanjaro, looking eye to eye with the heavens- its branches from sea to sea, 

Under the warm kisses of sunshine, its flowers blossomed and bloomed for many moons.


I know a tree, 

In the shades of its canopy, I am forever free. 


Michael Kofi Esson is a second-year medical student at MCW-MKE with a passion for contributing to refugee communities locally and abroad. He believes in the healing and transforming powers of stories shared through poems. His hope is to continue to write poems and, in the process, grow and heal anew. He is chair of MCW’s Refugee Mentorship and treasurer of MCW’s White Coat for Black Lives. 

Submit a Poem for Next Week

Reflection's from last weeks prompt:

Is there someone in your life you are feeling particularly grateful for this month?

I am particularly grateful for my best friend. Although she has been my rock since high school (in the early 90s), as of late, she has been my sounding block, a mentor, a confidant, and a source of persistent positivity. For her, during this time of transition, I am especially grateful.- Anonymous

Reflection for the week:

What do you remember most about your Match day?

Share Your Reflection

Please Join Us!

Kern Institute Connection Cafe: Growth Mindset in a Fixed Mindset Culture

Despite growth mindset’s benefits to learning and well-being, curricula and learning environments espousing the fixed mindset continue to dominate. Participants will learn about the benefits of growth mindset and resistance to its implementation from both a practical and philosophic perspective. 

Dr. James N. Woodruff is the Dean of Students for the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. In this role, he supports medical students in their professional development, specialty selection and residency application. A graduate of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Woodruff completed his internal medicine residency and chief residency in the department of medicine at the University of Chicago. His 8-year tenure as director of the internal medicine residency program and 6-year tenure as the Department of Medicine’s vice chair for education provide him with broad perspective on the medical training pathway.

March 2, 2023

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Hybrid Event: Join via Zoom or in Person

HUB - A5520/A5628

Register Here

Join us for a live storytelling event with MCW Students, Residents, Fellows, Faculty, & Staff

Come share your own story or listen to other narratives and celebrate the commonality of the human experience! Register to be a Storyteller below!


Please join us on Thursday, March 23 at 6:30 p.m. for MedMoth: A Storytelling Reflection on Medicine. The event will be hosted in person in MCW's Alumni Center.


Listen to stories by faculty, staff, residents, fellows, and students as they share their own true experiences in the world of medicine. Inspired by The Moth, this event will entail authentic storytelling and will be an enlightening audience experience that you won't want to miss.

March 23, 2023

6:30 pm

MCW Alumni Center

Register to be a Storyteller at MedMoth
Register to Attend MedMoth

Get ready to Apply to the KINETIC3 Program!


Are you interested in directing a medical school course in the future? Do you want to learn about active learning techniques for the foundational sciences? Do you want to build character education into your current teaching? Are you looking to improve your teaching skills at the bedside? 

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you should apply to the KINETIC3 program!


The program is entering its sixth year at the Medical College of Wisconsin and has produced 138 graduates. Our program is open to any MCW faculty, staff, advanced practice provider, student, resident, or fellow interested in advancing their skills in medical education. 


We will be holding virtual informational sessions on:

·       March 8th from 12-12:30pm,  

·       March 10th from 11-11:30am,  

·       March 15th from 12:30-1pm,  

·       March 23rd from 12-12:30pm, or  

·       March 27th from 12:30-1pm  

·       ALL VIRTUAL ON MS TEAMS. Please email for a calendar invite.  


Get ready to apply! We will open applications for our Excellence in Teaching Track on March 1, 2023 and we will close applications on March 31, 2023.


If you have any questions about the program, please don't hesitate to contact us at For more information please check out our website here. We look forward to your application!

Call for Transformational Ideas!

Designing New Innovations in Medical Education


The Kern Institute invites all MCW faculty, students, staff, residents, postdocs, and fellows to submit ideas for funding through the 2023 Transformational Ideas Initiative (TI2) Program.

This program focuses on innovating and transforming medical education. We are looking for ideas that improve the learning environment for students, residents, and/or fellows at MCW.



Who is this for? Anyone who is…

·      Interested in experimenting

·      Open to exploring new ideas and reimagining existing ideas or programs

·      Curious, compassionate, change makers

·      Truly interested in transforming medical education for the future

Project teams will be guided through the development of their idea through summer workshops, one on one coaching, and character mentorship through the Kern Institute’s Human-Centered Design Lab.

Each project will be implemented throughout the 2023-24 academic year. Funding for each project will be individually granted at the conclusion of summer workshops based on the needs of each project. For more information about the program, visit our website.

Applications will be accepted until Monday, April 3, 2023.

Submit Your Idea Here

Join a campus-wide educators’ community read of Thanks for the Feedback, by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen 

As a key component of the new MCWfusion Curriculum set to launch in July 2023, we will discuss strategies for preparing for, seeking, understanding, and applying feedback – and consider how we might help our students develop these skills as part of their personal and professional development. This book is full of practical tips that we can also adapt in our own practices of giving and receiving feedback. 

As we understand how busy everyone is, we plan to offer several different ways to interact as a community in book discussions – including asynchronous/online discussions, virtual sessions, and shared reflective writing. Everyone who signs up for this will receive invitations to participate using all methods. While these are not mandatory, we hope that the output of these community discussions will enhance our shared understanding of the topic and lead to enhancement of our MCW learning environments. 

We have many print copies of the book available to use throughout the Spring 2023 semester – though we will ask all of you who receive a book from us to gift it back to an incoming MCWfusion student with a message welcoming them to our community in July 2023, so they can begin their work to develop this skill. Please complete this Qualtrics survey if you are interested in participating and would like a book supplied to you. 

The read is also available on Audible if you’d like to purchase the audio version on your own. Here is a sneak peek as found on Amazon.

Please contact Marty Muntz with any questions.

IWill 3.0 Will Begin in March 2023

AWSM is excited to kick off IWill 3.0 in March 2023 as we host the AWSM Women's History Month Symposium. Our event includes our three speakers as well as a research poster presentation with awards! Learn more about submitting your poster abstract to our scientific session!

Read the February 16 Issue 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, Wolf Pulsiano, Eileen Peterson,  Anna Visser, James Wu & Emelyn Zaworski

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