Transformational Times
Words of Hope, Character & Resilience from our Virtual Community
Friday, July 24, 2020
In this Issue:

Director's Corner
  • Adina Kalet, MD, MPH: Mentoring Toward Purpose and Meaning: Helping our students retain their passion for medicine by asking Why? 

Racial Injustice & Inequities Perspective
  • Eileen Peterson MD Candidate 2023: Racial Discrimination in Academic Surgery

Educational Perspective
  • Cassie Ferguson, MD, Kurt Pfiefer, MD, Marty Muntz, MD, Cassidy Berns, Kaicey von Stockhausen, and Adina Kalet, MD, MPH: Learning Communities at MCW: Past, Present and Future

Pandemic Perspectives
  • Jake Taxis, MDiv, BCC: Anonymity and the Shape of a Soul
  • Teresa Patitucci, PhD: MCW Art Club

Your Turn
  • See how readers answered last week's prompt: If you could travel back in time to January 1, 2020, what would you want to tell your former self?
  • Respond to this week's prompt: What podcasts are you loving right now, and why?

  • Help Select this year's MCW Common Read Book
  • Enter the Student Essay Contest on Character in Medicine
  • Register for the Kern Institute's Upcoming Virtual Events
Director's Corner
Mentoring Toward Purpose and Meaning: Helping our students retain their passion for medicine by asking Why? 

In this week’s Directors Corner, Dr. Kalet reminds us that focusing on well-being alone is not enough. Our students want and need mentoring on how to make a purposeful and meaningful life in medicine, especially in these tumultuous times …

“…Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life ?”
-The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Becoming a physician is challenging in all ways. And yet it is a choice. Even the most optimistic medical student will have moments of great distress and doubt, and they will-and should- seriously question their choice of life path from time to time. After all, while it is a privilege to join a profession which offers the possibility of a lifetime of meaningful work, it is not a career for everyone. There are many ways to make a satisfying life. Pursing the practice of medicine when it is not what you really want to do can be tragic for the practitioner, their family and their patients.
Racial Injustice & Inequities Perspective
Racial Discrimination in Academic Surgery

by Eileen Peterson, MD Candidate 2023
Transformational Times Associate Editor

Trainee Peterson summarizes the Town Hall Webinar held on June 24, 2020 by the Association for Academic Surgery addressing racial discrimination and ways to counteract systemic bias in the field of academic surgery.

This webinar was one in a series of town halls with the goal of changing the landscape of academic surgery. The town hall was led by two session moderators, Callisia Clarke, MD of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Colin Martin, MD of the University of Alabama Birmingham, and five panelists from across the nation. As the chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force for AAS, Dr. Clarke stated that the AAS is looking for “not just discussions but solutions” within the academic surgical workforce.
Education Perspective
Learning Communities at MCW: Past, Present and Future

by Cassie Ferguson, MD, Kurt Pfiefer, MD, Marty Muntz, MD, Cassidy Berns, Kaicey von Stockhausen, and Adina Kalet, MD, MPH

This Kern Institute team describes their work on the rapid evolution of Learning Communities at MCW and the proposal for expanding the effort putting the learner at the center of education ...

The new academic year is upon us. New medical students arriving in Milwaukee will be find a campus than that looks very different from the one they saw on interview day. Orientation will be mostly virtual. Those unscripted moments and chance encounters that allow students to make connections with new people in the first few weeks of school will be few and far between. Everyone will be wearing masks and sitting at least 6 feet apart in classrooms. There won’t be the option to wander the hallways or find that perfect place to study. It all must be scheduled in advance.

These changes to medical education necessitated by COVID-19 pandemic are layered upon the preexisting challenges of rapidly expanding biomedical knowledge and increasing time and fiscally constrained clinical environment. These challenges may have compounding consequences, including burnout and increasing rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality. To better support our students and to help promote a sense of connection and community amidst social isolation, the MCW School of Medicine (SOM) is implementing learning communities (LCs).
Pandemic Perspective
Anonymity and the Shape of a Soul

by Jake Taxis, MDiv, BCC

Jake Taxis, a Lutheran Minister and dedicated Chaplain for the Palliative Care Team at Froedtert Hospital, shares his perspectives on the power of listening from his work supporting hospitalized COVID-19 patients ...

In the beginning of her poem, “Some Questions You Might Ask,” Mary Oliver finds herself reflecting on the soul:

           Is the soul solid, like iron?
           Or is it tender and breakable, like
           the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?
           Who has it, and who doesn't? …

           Does it have a shape? Like an iceberg?
           Like the eye of a hummingbird?

This poem haunts me for a few reasons, not least of which because, as a palliative care chaplain and Lutheran minister, I listen to the souls of people every day. That is an odd thing to say, I know, and not a little pretentious.
Pandemic Perspective
MCW Art Club

by Teresa Patitucci, PhD

Dr. Patitucci shares a window into the Virtual MCW Art Club, a healing and creative outlet amidst the pandemic that you can join ...

Creative expression is an important part of my life and many others’ around MCW. The sciences are often associated with analytical and academic pursuits, so it may be surprising to learn how many people in these fields are also highly creative. The arts provide both personal and professional benefits. For example, visual art can be helpful for cathartic reasons, but also for developing objective observation skills. Here I primarily talk about art for expression.

Personally, I have dabbled in several creative pursuits, including theater, singing, and dancing, but primarily am a visual artist. While I publicly share my visual art, I rarely sing in front of others. Students know me for my anatomical illustrations, my partner knows me for having oil paint all over me. My best friend knows I will sing to her when her fibromyalgia is acting up even if I’m shy about it. These activities are my lifeblood. In private, they are what I turn to when I’m overjoyed or overwhelmed with grief. I sing when I feel so full of a feeling it must exit my body – take a deep breath and make as loud a sound as my petite body can produce. This summer has involved a lot of singing. I draw or paint to create my own world, capture a memory, lean into a feeling, or frankly to zone out and relax.
"We don’t apologize” (for instance, for the W.H.O.’s original assurances that masks were not needed).

“Instead, we cast judgments and say, ‘OK, you’re not wearing a mask now so you are irresponsible and a bad person.’ That destroys credibility, creates confusion, and it alienates people.”

a quote from
Ranu S. Dhillon, MD
Harvard Medical School

"How to Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers"
New York Times - July 22, 2020
"Start working on that plan to redo the spare bedroom into an office
and find a comfortable office chair."
-Anonymous, MCW Staff

"If I could travel back to Jan. 1, I would remind my former self that the only thing that is certain in life is that there will always be uncertainty and unexpected changes. I would also remind myself that hard circumstances are great opportunities for growth and even when the situation feels hopeless, there will eventually be a light at the end of a dark tunnel."
-Anonymous, Medical Student

"Plans change . . . be flexible."
-Cathy Brummer, MCW Staff

"This year will be completely different than anything you have ever experienced, and it will change you for the better. Don’t panic, take a deep breath, and keep putting one foot in front of the other."
-Kathryn Golab, Medical Laboratory Scientist-WDL

“The next couple of months may be unstable,
so focus on what you can control.”
– Sarah Benett, Medical Student

“Learn to be more adaptable and flexible in life.”
– Mit Patel, Medical Student

“Hug your family and friends tight,
tell them that you love them in person.”
– Laura Grogan, Medical Student

“Life is going to get really crazy
but keep on pushing because you’re going to be okay!”
– Na Xiong, Medical Student

– Rachel Seiler, Medical Student

“On second thought, let’s not go to 2020.”
– Anonymous

“Buckle up!!”
– Anonymous

“Invest in Zoom stock!!”
– Julia Schmitt, MCW Staff

Respond to next week's reflection prompt:

What podcasts are you loving right now, and why?
Help Select this year's MCW Common Read Book!

 The MCW Common Read Committee has elected to pivot this year’s programming to highlight a book that addresses systemic racism and race relations in the United States -- but we need your help -- please vote!
Vote before
July 24 @ 11:59PM CST
to pick one of the books below as the 2020-2021 Common Read.
Student Essay Contest!

Describe someone you have encountered in the field of medicine who is a character exemplar - what about them and their actions inspires you and your future work?

For definitions of the 24 character strengths, click on the image at the left.
The Kern Institute is excited to launch a character essay contest for medical students across the Kern National Network of medical schools. 

The essay is an opportunity to reflect on what character means to you and what character strengths you’ve seen exhibited in role models. All essays will be used for us to better understand how students view attributes that make someone a character exemplar in medicine.  

A $25 gift card will be awarded to the contest winner.  Essays are due August 28th and should be 700 words or less.
 Grand Rounds Presentation
A Physician's Story of Recovery
by Adam B. Hill, MD, Pediatric palliative care physician at Indiana University’s Riley Hospital for Children and the author of “Long Walk Out of the Woods ~ A Physician’s Story of Addiction, Depression, Hope, and Recovery.”
August 6, 2020
Live Virtual Presentation
9:00 - 10:00 am CT
Connection Cafe Presentation
Conversation On Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) and Graduate Medical Education (GME) in a Covid World
by Kenneth B. Simons, MD, Sr. Associate Dean, Graduate Medical Education, and Executive Director, Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals (MCWAH)
August 19, 2020
Live Virtual Presentation
4:00 - 5:00 pm CT
Connection Cafe Presentation
Student Mental Health Climate Survey 2020: How are we doing?
by David J. Cipriano, PhD, Director of Student and Resident Behavioral Health, Medical College of Wisconsin
September 17, 2020
Live Virtual Presentation
4:00 - 5:00 pm CT
Grand Rounds Panel Presentation
Navigating Ethical Issues in Resource Allocation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Please join us for a panel presentation and Q&A with members of the MCW Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities including  Arthur R. Derse, MD, JD Mary E. Homan, DrPH, MA, MSHCE Fabrice Jotterand, PhD , and  Ryan Spellecy, PhD
September 24, 2020
Live Virtual Presentation
9:00 - 10:00 am CT
Transformational Ideas Initiative
MCW Education Innovation Celebration!

Please join us in celebrating innovative ideas for the transformation of medical education at MCW!

You'll view posters from the 10 teams in our 2019-20 cohort as they implemented their projects this past year, as well as learning about the project plans being implemented this academic year by the 16 teams of our 2020-21 cohort.

Join us on our journey to transform medical education!
October 7, 2020
Live Virtual Presentation
4:00 - 6:00 pm CT
Our Patients Need Your Blood!
The pandemic has changed so much about our day-to-day lives, but it certainly hasn’t changed the need for life-saving blood products for our seriously ill patients. 

Current supplies are limited, which impacts our patients with cancer, chronic anemia, and solid organ transplants.   

Give the gift of hope. Our patients need you today! 
MCW COVID-19 Resource Center
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