Transformational Times

Words of Hope, Character & Resilience from our Virtual Community

Friday, May 6, 2022

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In This Issue:

Guest Director's Corner


Poetry Corner

  • Jack Coulehan, MD: In Praise of Virtue

Your Turn

  • Readers Respond to Last Week's Reflection Prompt: Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
  • This Week's Reflection Prompt: What is your favorite quote?

Upcoming Events/Announcements

Guest Director's Corner

The Parable of Dr. Benny: A Journey through the Clouds To Reach the Summit of “Good Physician Mountain”

By John Yoon, MD and Fabrice Jotterand, PhD, MA


The “Parable of Dr. Benny” Series is Part 3 of an extended personal reflection on Character & Professional Development (Links to Part 1 and Part 2).  This essay was inspired by John Bunyan’s Pilgrim Progress and David Irby & Stanley Hamstra’s article in Academic Medicine, “Parting the Clouds: Three Professionalism Frameworks in Medical Education.”


“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be the arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

-T.S. Eliot, from “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets


“There are two ways of getting home;

and one of them is to stay there.

The other is to walk 'round the whole world

till we come back to the same place.”

— G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man


This is the story of Med Ed Pilgrim’s Progress:


Once upon a time, Dr. Benny experienced an existential crisis as a fledgling medical educator freshly minted from his residency training: How do I help others become the proverbial “Good Physician?”

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Disillusioned Doctors: Medical Ideals, Meaning, and Virtue-Based Professional Identity Formation

By Daniel T. Kim, PhD, MPH; Megan K. Applewhite, MD, MA, FACS and Wayne Shelton, PhD



In this essay, our colleagues from Albany Medical College share their experience from Albany Medical College in teaching a 4-year longitudinal, virtue-based curriculum in ethics and professionalism ...




In a previous issue of the Kern Transformational Times (Sept. 2021), John Yoon tells the parable of Dr. Benny. Dr. Benny is a busy internist who, “between frozen sessions of the electronic medical record and tedious billing sheets,” muses “wistfully” about his disillusionment with the medical profession. What happened to the youthful idealism that brought him into medicine? Whence “the irritating reality of ICD codes, RVUs, MOCs, and the medical alphabet soup of bureaucratic death”? Dr. Benny is not alone in his disillusionment, with alarming rates of burnout and empathy-decline beginning as early as medical school. This suggests that part of the problem, and perhaps part of the solution, may begin in medical education.

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Virtue Ethics and Character Formation in Medicine: Our Approach at Columbia’s Center for Clinical Medical Ethics



By Lydia S. Dugdale, MD, MAR; Charlene Sathi, MS and Ashley John Moyse, PhD



In this essay, our colleagues from Columbia’s Center for Clinical Medical Ethics describe a vision of curricular innovation focusing on the formation of virtues and the cultivation of flourishing in health profession students …




Columbia’s Center for Clinical Medical Ethics (CCME) aims to foster flourishing relationships between patients, doctors, and other medical professionals by supporting the ethical formation of medical trainees; encouraging true intellectual friendship across difference; and facilitating public engagement on diverse ethical issues.

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The Paul McHugh Program for Human Flourishing at Johns Hopkins University



By Margaret Chisolm, MD and Paul McHugh, MD



In this essay, our colleagues from Johns Hopkins University share their experience with character education and virtue development of medical students through an intentional focus on asking foundational questions often avoided in traditional discourse on professionalism ...




“I mean simply to make the human being more human, and that is some task for the teacher that I try to be...”

Elie Wiesel


The practice of medicine is a moral enterprise – one human being caring for another – and the ‘big questions’ long considered in Western philosophy and the arts are central to physician training. This is true now more than ever, as physicians face growing pressure to set aside age-old norms and conscientious judgment in favor of “respecting” patients’ wishes – including their wishes to be killed or to remake themselves through hormones and plastic surgery – and medical trainees and practitioners are reporting unprecedented levels of burnout and alienation. Yet medical education continues to avoid examining these foundational questions – what it means to be human, to be a physician, and to lead a good life – with its students.

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Perspective/ Opinion

The Doctor with a Golden Heart




By Sabena Y.  Jameel, MD, PhD



In this essay, our colleague from across the “pond” at University of Birmingham (UK) and lead author of Ethics and the Good Doctor: Character in the Professional Domain, shares her insights on virtue-based approaches to professional formation in medicine over the course of her PhD dissertation work in Practical Wisdom ...




“I knew a doctor who was honest, but gentle with his honesty, and was loving, but careful with his love, who was disciplined without being rigid, and right without a stain of arrogance, who was self-questioning without self-doubt, introspective and reflective and in the same moment, decisive, who was strong, hard, adamant, but all those things laced with tenderness and understanding, a doctor who worshipped his calling without worshipping himself, who was busy beyond belief, but who had the time – time to smile, to chat, to touch the shoulder and take the hand, and who had time enough for death as well as life”                                                    

-Michael A LaCombe MD



I have laminated this quote and put it in my consultation room. I came across it in 2013 when I started my PhD which took biographies of empirically derived wise doctors. This aspirational quote inspires me, it inspires my patients too and we often divert from the clinical presentation to a conversation about good doctors. I have shared it with medical educators, and they too see something beautiful within it.

Continue Reading


The Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School



By Farr Curlin, MD; Warren Kinghorn, MD, ThD and Brett McCarty, ThD



Here our colleagues at Duke Divinity School highlight a more tradition-specific example of how institutions with historic religious affiliations (e.g., Jewish, Catholic health care institutions, etc.) might offer a virtue-based approach to medical education that more closely align educational initiatives with a tradition’s theological understanding and practices of a faithful health care vocation ...




The Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative (TMC) at Duke Divinity School seeks the renewal of health care through the theological and moral formation of health practitioners. Our mission is based on the foundational belief that education in health care is not just intellectual, but also moral. As an initiative grounded in Christian faith and practice, we seek to develop health professionals marked by their purposefulness, wisdom, justice, and respect for the dignity of every human as made in God’s image.

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Cultivating Character and Preparing Future Physicians to Flourish: Curricular Innovations to Character Formation in Pre-Clinical Medical Education and a Vision for the Character Collaborative for Medical Educators



By Anne Jeffrey, PhD and Kathryn J. Rowland, MD, MPHS



Our colleagues at the University of Chicago and Baylor University offer an example of how virtue-based approaches in medical education might be implemented earlier in the formation of future clinicians—pre-medical education, for instance—and then offer a vision for a Character Collaborative for Medical Educators ...



Physicians care for those that are sick and suffering, patients who are weak and vulnerable, who are dependent and trusting upon the physician’s knowledge and commitment to provide excellent care. Oftentimes the privilege to provide this care comes at the personal sacrifice of the physician - hard work, early mornings and late nights, and time away from family and friends are the rule rather than the exception. With such professional demands, it can be reasonably argued that a physician should be an individual of outstanding character. Character determines our responses in times of stress and fatigue. During medical training and in medical practice, grueling hours, long lists of patients to treat and care for, each with an increasing complexity of medical and social problems, and the high-stakes decision making environment call character in to action. And yet, little to no time in the very lengthy process of medical education is devoted to individual character development. 

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Past Issues

In Praise of Virtue 

By Jack Coulehan, MD 

A student twitches in her seat, 

irked at my wasting her time. 

Fidelity, fortitude, compassion— 

what a moldy scent they exude! 

She wants content, words cut 

from a block of granite, words 

built with bricks from the ground up, 

not old sheets waving in the wind. 

Virtue! No wonder she Googles 

an alternate route. To her, virtue 

is either fraudulent, or a track 

too deep in the thalamus 

to count. Pixel by pixel, 

my student fades, and I start 

to blurt, Wait! Wait! But don’t. 

I yearn to juggle four words 

at once while walking on stilts, 

to twist my face into a clown's 

and capture her attention, to make 

her giggle with delight, but 

only a wisp remains in the room. 

Too late. I wanted to warn her 

that words with cleats on their soles 

grind and abrade. Too soon. 

I wanted to show her the bruises. 


JAMA. 2010;304(20):2218. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1540  

Submit a Poem for Next Week

Readers respond to last week's reflection prompt:

Who is your inspiration in life?


My Mom! Kind, generous, determined and not afraid to tackle or try just about anything. My role model.

—Teri Hecker, Staff


My Father. As I was growing up, he always was reading a book, a thirst for knowledge. I envied his ability to read books in a short amount of time and what he learned. I would go to the library with him just to see the sea of books to learn from. I checked out books and would feel inspired by what I would learn.

As an adult, I learned he has a double Major in Mathematics and Geography from UW-Milwaukee. This makes sense as he alone would win in Trivia Pursuit against 7 of us. He inspired me to learn. As I approached my father after graduating with my MBA with a concentration in Leadership, I felt accomplished to be an avid learner such as my Father.

—Cheryl Knapp, Staff

For this week's reflection prompt, please answer the following question:

What is your favorite quote?

Share Your Reflection

New Academic Medicine Innovation Report

MedMoth Storytelling program receives grant

Congratulations to the MedMoth Storytelling program for receiving a grant from the Charles E. Kubly Foundation.

New Academic Medicine Innovation Report

REACH: A Required Curriculum to Foster the Well-Being of Medical Students

In this Academic Medicine Innovation Report, Drs. Cassie Ferguson, Tavinder Ark and Adina Kalet of the Kern Institute describe the REACH curriculum (Recognize, Empathize, Allow, Care, Hold each other up), a required, longitudinal well-being curriculum for first- and second-year medical students at the Medical College of Wisconsin designed to prepare them for the emotional life of being a physician. 

Read Article Here
Join us
KICS Journal Club with Dr. Ben Kinnear

KICS journal club is an opportunity to discuss some of the latest, influential, and/or thought-provoking articles in medical education with the authors who wrote them. It is an opportunity to learn about new ideas, methodologies, assessments, and strategies for publishing in medical education.

Dr. Kinnear is an associate professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and serves as an associate program director of the Med-Peds and Internal Medicine residency programs overseeing their medical education pathway.

May 11, 2022
via Zoom
12:15 pm - 1:00 pm CT  
Join Live Here
Register Now
Faculty Development Day: Thriving at All Stages of Your Career

The Office of Faculty Affairs is thrilled to host an all virtual Faculty Development Day: Thriving At All Stages of Your Career. This annual one-day event provides resources to enhance overall faculty professional development in a variety of areas, with a special keynote address at noon.

Many Kern Institute faculty are contributing to sessions at this event, with Dr. Adina Kalet facilitating a Mentoring Intensive Workshop. Registration for this Workshop is limited and only open through the end of March.

May 12, 2022
Virtual via Zoom
8:00 am - 5:00 pm CT  

Learn More and Register

Wisconsin Medical Journal Seeks Applicants for Editor-in-Chief

The Wisconsin Medical Journal (WMJ) is seeking candidates to serve as its next Editor-in-Chief. The WMJ is an indexed, peer-reviewed journal published through a collaboration between the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. 
The EIC will serve a three-year term, with the potential for renewal. Previous experience as an editor or deputy/associate editor is preferred, as is prior editorial board experience. This is a volunteer position that averages 4 to 6 hours per week and will commence in June 2022.

The deadline for applications is May 13, 2022.
Learn More and Apply

May Kaleidoscope Forum

Multi-Generational Workplace: Exploring Challenges and Opportunities

Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers oh my! We are currently in a unique position where we could have as many as five generations working in one workplace at the same time. How do you effectively communicate across the board to each group?

Please join us as we explore and identify what motivates each group, best approaches to communicate and engage, and discuss how each generation best gives and receives information. 

May 19, 2022

Virtual via Zoom

12:00 - 1:00 pm CT

Register Now
Register Now
The Doctor as a Humanist DASH 6th Symposium: Humanism in Surgery

Fabrice Jotterand, PhD and Clara Bosco will be leading a plenary session entitled The Wise Surgeon in the Age of Artificial Intelligence at The Doctor as a Humanist DASH 6th Symposium: Humanism in Surgery, a hybrid event.

May 20, 2022
Hybrid Event  

Learn More and Register

Academic Medicine Call For Papers

Academic Medicine is seeking original submissions for their Letters to the Editor feature from medical students, residents, fellows, and trainees in other health professions on the topic of a transformative moment in your professional journey.

The editors will be looking for letters that go beyond describing an event to reflect meaningfully on how the experience affected your professional identity formation. In other words, a successful letter will not simply tell us what happened, but will also illuminate the role of that experience in shaping your identity as a health care professional. We expect you to use your personal experience to illustrate the point, but the purpose of the letter should be to communicate a broader issue or idea that has relevance for others throughout academic medicine. Submissions that are strictly narrative will not be considered for publication. Authors wishing to submit a strictly narrative piece should explore the journal’s Teaching and Learning Moments feature as an option.

Submissions will be accepted between 5/23/2022 and 5/27/22 only.

Learn More and Submit
Join us
KICS Journal Club with Dr. Margaret Chisolm

KICS journal club is an opportunity to discuss some of the latest, influential, and/or thought-provoking articles in medical education with the authors who wrote them. It is an opportunity to learn about new ideas, methodologies, assessments, and strategies for publishing in medical education.

Dr. Margaret Chisolm will be doing an experiential Visual Thinking Strategies mini-session and discussing her article How Visual Arts Based Education Can Promote Clinical Excellence.

Dr. Chisolm the vice chair for education and a professor of psychiatry and behavior sciences and medicine at Johns Hopkins University and the author of From Survive to Thrive: Living your best life with mental illness.

June 8, 2022
via Zoom
12:15 pm - 1:00 pm CT  
Join Live Here

Please Join Us

KINETIC³ Graduation Celebration

Please join the live (via Zoom) KINETIC³ Graduation Celebration as we recognize the contributions and accomplishments of these outstanding educators who successfully completed either the Excellence in Teaching or Medical Education Research Tracks

This celebration will highlight the graduates' character, caring, and curiosity through:

  • Teaching Pearls and Words of Wisdom provided by the Excellence in Teaching Track 
  • Scholarly work and Research Outcomes provided by the Medical Education Researcher Track 

We hope you will join us to recognize these outstanding accomplishments!

June 8, 2022

via Zoom

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm CT  

Read the April 21 Issue Here
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