Transformational Times

Words of Hope, Character & Resilience from our Virtual Community

Friday, March 17, 2023

In This Issue:

Director's Corner

Essays from MedMoth

Friends of the Kern Institute

Poetry Corner

  • Amanda Gorman, The Miracle of Morning

  • What is your favorite Podcasts?
  • What are you doing when you are listening to podcasts?
Let Us Know!
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Director's Corner

Transformational Times, No Longer in Emergency Mode, Continues to Hone Narrative Competence

By Adina Kalet, MD, MPH

On the newsletter’s third anniversary, Dr. Kalet considers how the Transformational Times has provided an opportunity for many people to tell stories, thereby sharpening a skill set and sensibility that is central to caring physician-patient relationships…

"It takes courage to share our stories with the world. "


- First Lady Michelle Obama (Instagram post).  

Continue Reading


The Sign


By Bruce Campbell, MD FACS

Dr. Campbell tells a story of a special patient, the patient’s sister, and a gift …

“Dr. Campbell, this is Maurice’s sister, Tanya,” says the caller. “I have something I want to bring to your office to give you.”


“Okay,” I respond, uncertain what to expect. Maurice was a long-term patient of mine who died several months earlier after losing an extended battle with tongue cancer. I have met Tanya briefly and only once. She gives no clue as to why she wants to see me. I do not know whether or not to be nervous.

Continue Reading


"Later, Jesus..."

By Himanshu Agrawal, MBBS, DF-APA

In this ‘med-moth’ style narration, Dr. Himanshu Agrawal reminisces about an important lesson he learned from one of his patients, early in his training...


When I first learned about Helena (not her real name), I had only been in psychiatric training for about six months. She was a petite, single woman in her fifties, meek and sweet at baseline. Despite numerous treatment interventions, her annual breakthrough episode of psychosis would visit with the regularity of high tide, drenching her to the bone. Each time, her psychotic episode swept her away to magical realms and in due time, she was plopped back ashore.

Continue Reading


Overcoming Shame in Professional Identity

By Brett Linzer

The autopsy concluded it wasn’t his fault, but an intern’s shame over one patient’s death followed him for 22 years, until a physician coach helped him through it...


Early one morning in 1996, after a sleepless night on call, I stood with my team in the VA hospital, outside room 102. I was a 28-year-old intern on the general medicine service. We were making rounds on 12 patients that my intern partner, myself, and our supervising resident had admitted overnight. As we walked from room to room, the interns presented data about each patient’s condition from a small white notecard. I presented the case of a 62-year-old veteran who was admitted with chest pain. His pain had resolved, and the EKG and lab work were both reassuring. Our attending and team were satisfied with my presentation. We entered the room to find a pleasant man sitting up in bed, enjoying his breakfast of scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes. After a few moments of small talk, the attending was confident the patient was in our capable hands, and we left the room.

Continue Reading


Building Professional Identity and Higher Purpose


By Thomas Hurtado, EdD

We should help students think about their mission in medicine -- what it means to them personally -- and form a community around them, coaching them to think about the higher purpose of medicine...


I was a complete outsider when I began meeting with first-year students in my new role, leading the Student Affairs team at the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine at the University of Utah. Within only a few weeks of starting medical school, students were telling me, "I don't feel like myself" and "I am unsure about who I am anymore." This was different from my work with undergraduates who were beginning to adjust to college life. It was a bit shocking, considering how far in their academic journey these first-year medical students already had traveled. Their experiences, and the support they needed, became the genesis for me -- a non-MD -- to co-create something called a RealMD program.

Continue Reading

Kern Institute in the News

-Alicia Pilarski, DO, named Froedtert & MCW chief well-being officer

-Alicia Pilarski, DO- AMA Steps Forward Podcast- "No one left behind: Expanded peer support and second victim syndrome"

-Monday Morning Coffee – March 13, 2023 – KinetiC3 Teaching Academy


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Well-being Officer
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KI MedEd Blog
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Kern Bookstore

The Miracle of Morning

By Amanda Gorman

I thought I’d awaken to a world in mourning.

Heavy clouds crowding, a society storming.

But there’s something different on this golden morning.

Something magical in the sunlight, wide and warming.

I see a dad with a stroller taking a jog.

Across the street, a bright-eyed girl chases her dog.

A grandma on a porch fingers her rosaries.

She grins as her young neighbor brings her groceries.

While we might feel small, separate, and all alone,

Our people have never been more closely tethered.

The question isn’t if we will weather this unknown,

But how we will weather this unknown together.

So on this meaningful morn, we mourn and we mend.

Like light, we can’t be broken, even when we bend.

As one, we will defeat both despair and disease.

We stand with healthcare heroes and all employees;

With families, libraries, schools, waiters, artists;

Businesses, restaurants, and hospitals hit hardest.

We ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof,

For it is in loss that we truly learn to love.

In this chaos, we will discover clarity.

In suffering, we must find solidarity.

For it’s our grief that gives us our gratitude,

Shows us how to find hope, if we ever lose it.

So ensure that this ache wasn’t endured in vain:

Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.

Read children’s books, dance alone to DJ music.

Know that this distance will make our hearts grow fonder.

From a wave of woes our world will emerge stronger.

We’ll observe how the burdens braved by humankind

Are also the moments that make us humans kind;

Let every dawn find us courageous, brought closer;

Heeding the light before the fight is over.

When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing

In testing times, we became the best of beings.

Submit a Poem for Next Week

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

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

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 12-12:30 pm
  • March 10th from 11-11:30 am 
  • March 15th from 12:30-1 pm
  • March 23rd from 12-12:30 pm  
  • March 27th from 12:30-1 pm  


ALL VIRTUAL ON MS TEAMS. Please email [email protected] for a calendar invite.  


Applications are OPEN for our Excellence in Teaching Track. We will close applications on March 31, 2023.


If you have any questions about the program, please don't hesitate to contact us at [email protected]. We look forward to your application!

Check out the Website

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
Check out KNN Connection
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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