Transformational Times
Words of Hope, Character & Resilience from our Virtual Community
Friday, June 19, 2020
In this Issue:

Director's Corner
  • Adina Kalet, MD: The Kern Institute is Not a "Black Box"!

Racial Injustice & Inequities Perspectives
  • Sherry-Ann Brown, MD, PhD: Pandemics Juxtaposed
  • Scott Lamm: Can We Agree This is a Problem?
  • Cassie Ferguson, MD & Adina Kalet, MD: Rethinking Remediation
  • Chris Decker, MD, and Julia Schmitt: Pushing Institutional Climate Change for Underrepresented Minority Students
  • Lara Voigt, MD: Parenting in the Time of Black Lives Matter

Educational Perspectives
  • Alexandra Harrington, MD: What Part of Your Character Are You Working on Today?
  • Tavinder K. Ark, PhD: Why is the Kern Institute's Medical Education Data Scientist Smiling?

Your Turn
  • Tell us about something you did for someone else
Director's Corner
The Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education is Not a "Black Box"!

In this week’s Director’s Corner, Dr. Kalet implores you all to read the entire issue “cover to cover” to both engage in the urgent conversations of the moment and find out what the Kern Institute is doing to transform medical education

I met sixty MCW folks over the course of three recruitment visits while I was being considered as the Director of the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education. I was intrigued by this remarkable and unique leadership opportunity but still wasn’t certain that the potential accomplishments of the position would be worth the personal risks I would take.

I had done my homework. I had heard the skepticism over what the Kern Institute was trying to accomplish (“black box,” “cash cow”). I had listened to the questions about whether or not the Kern Institute would be worthy of the investment made by the Kern Family Foundation. I was aware of the MCW community’s uncertainty if it would be able to live up to the high expectations.
North Avenue at Holton Street, Milwaukee - June 13, 2020
Photo courtesy of Venus Coates
Racial Injustice & Inequities Perspective
Pandemics Juxtaposed

by Sherry-Ann Brown, MD, PhD, FACC, FAHA

Dr. Brown shares her thoughts on society's goal to be well ...

Many of you are wondering about what I as a leader in various ways am thinking about the racial pandemic, juxtaposed with the coronavirus pandemic.

In the coronavirus pandemic, I had been starting my emails with something like, “I hope you have been able to stay well during these unprecedented times.”

This morning, I started to write an email to a group of people. At first I typed, “I hope you are well.”

Then I deleted that and started over. And then wrote, “I hope you are sorting through these multiply tumultuous times.”

I deleted that too, and skipped that intro altogether, and instead decided to share it with you all.
Racial Injustice & Inequities Perspective
Can We Agree This is a Problem?

by Scott Lamm , MD Candidate-2022

Trainee Lamm offers himself as an example of what systemic racism looks like and calls for action ...

I grew up understanding very little about my own privilege. I knew that because I was white, I wouldn’t be followed while shopping, or stared at for walking around my neighborhood. I grew up with Officer Friendly telling me he was there to protect me, but little did I know, it was only because of the color of my skin that I was guaranteed that protection. With the lack of diversity growing up, I stayed complacent on my views on racial injustice. I grew up being told the South Side of Chicago was an area I shouldn’t go to. It was “dangerous.” It didn’t occur to me that the south side could also be the complete opposite. It took until college, when I met friends who grew up in those areas, that my upbringing and my education were instilling racist and bigoted ideas.
Racial Injustice & Inequities Perspective
Rethinking Remediation at MCW

by Cassie Ferguson, MD, and Adina Kalet, MD, MPH

Drs. Ferguson and Kalet call out biases in how medical schools work with students, review the work of MCW’s Academic Vulnerability Task Force, and issue a call to action to achieve equity in medical school remediation…

Remediation, or the “act of facilitating a correction for trainees who started on the journey to becoming a physician but who have moved off course” is a necessary part of medical education, as it is the duty of institutions and our profession as a whole to ensure our learners are ready for the demands of the medical profession. (1) Remediation can also have tremendous, life-altering consequences for our learners. Recently, remediation has received considerable attention in the research literature as medical schools struggle to develop and implement responsive, effective, and equitable practices. This struggle reflects the complexities inherent in remediation.
Racial Injustice & Inequities Perspective
Pushing Institutional Climate Change for Underrepresented Minority Students

by Chris Decker, MD, and Julia Schmitt

When challenged to make a difference for our URM students, Dr. Decker and Ms. Schmitt used innovative approaches to define the problem and perceptions, then helped to focus resources on ways to move toward real change…

Malika Siker, MD, MCW’s Dean of Student Diversity and Inclusion challenged our Kern Institute design team to dive into an important question: Why don’t our Underrepresented Students in Medicine (URM) apply to residency programs here at MCW?  
Surveys had been conducted over the years, but the data did not reveal what was really happening with these students during their medical school years. Why did so many of these students want to leave?
Racial Injustice & Inequities Perspective
Parenting in the Time of Black Lives Matter

by Lara Voigt , MD

Imagine what Dr. Voigt’s infant son will understand as he grows up…

 When my son was born in March 2020, I thought the most dramatic stories I would be telling him about his birth would be related to the pandemic. I had been in quarantine for only a few days after my husband tested positive for COVID-19, when I went into labor, becoming one of the countless new moms to go through labor and delivery without their partner or a support person.
I thought I would be telling him how my anesthesiologist held the phone to video call my husband for the birth and how my nurse took pictures of us when he was just minutes old. I thought the main tragedy surrounding his birth would be all the families separated and lives lost during the pandemic. We were lucky that my husband never had to be admitted, and we were only separated for the first week of our son’s life. 
Two months later, I sat on the couch with his tiny head resting on my chest, scanning news articles, and watching as communities took to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd. As non-white communities stood up to say "Enough," I became acutely aware of the incredible privilege my son had been born with as a white male child of two physicians, and that our stories surrounding his birth would be about far more than quarantine and PPE shortages.
Educational Perspective
What Part of Your Character Are You Working on Today?

by Alexandra Harrington, MD

Dr. Harrington shares how character education intersects with professionalism, medical ethics and professional identity formation in medical education ...
Here was the ice breaker used in a virtual education workshop I attended last week: 
“What part of your character are you working on today?”
Without missing a beat, one participant, an elementary school educator, reflected on her character strength of “Perspective” and how moving all of her students’ home-schooling instruction online had challenged her patience. Several others gave the same answer: Perspective. According to the Values in Action (VIA) Institute of Character, “Perspective,” or the ability to see the big picture, is one of the 24 character strengths valued across cultures. 

Even though I am usually not fond of ice breakers, I loved this activity.
Educational Perspective
Why is the Kern Institute’s Medical Education Data Scientist Smiling? She is building a lab to put it all together!

by Tavinder K. Ark, PhD

Dr. Ark shares her passion for how data, when reliably collected, artfully analyzed, and easily and meaningfully visualized can transform medical education – clarifying what works to both guide individual learning and prepare physicians for a long, satisfying medical career…
Call me Isthmus: a person who connects cognition, statistics, psychometrics, data and programming with adventurous fun. I love organizing, analyzing, interpreting and visualizing data that clarifies how and what our learners learn. There are a number of fancy titles for the sort of person who can and likes to do all this. I could appropriately be called a data or educational measurement scientist or more colloquially a data Jedi. While I am aware that some people see all this as a “black box” of fancy data footwork, if you give me some time, I am committed to demystifying the magic so that everyone understands how data science is a critical part of our medical education transformation work and why the Kern Institute is building a medical education data science laboratory.
”I remember everything I was told and overheard during Juneteeneth celebrations. ‘Never shop where you won’t get hired’ and ‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something’ … I am reminded of history lessons and uncomfortable conversations regarding systemic racism that I heard … on Juneteenth.”

from an essay by
Brianna Holtby

"I've Celebrated Juneteenth All My Life. It's Different This Year."
New York Times - June 17, 2020
"I mowed my neighbor's lawn last week. They have a newborn baby and I know they aren't getting much sleep at night, so I thought this would be one little thing I could do to help them out.

The fun part is that they don't know it was me. I overheard them talking about it to another neighbor. They said are planning to pay it forward in some way soon. I love the idea of a kindness ripple continuing to spread. I wonder how far it will go...

-Anonymous, Staff, MCW-Milwaukee

Respond to next week's reflection prompt:
Tell us about something you would like to be different one week from today.
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