In the moments before they were cloaked with their new white coats and welcomed into the medical profession, Dr. Keith Kenter posed two questions to the 84 students in WMed’s MD Class of 2021.
“Are you really crazy?” asked Dr. Kenter, professor and chair of the medical school’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “Are you crazy for doing this?”
They were questions to which Dr. Kenter wasn’t actually seeking a response. Instead, he gave the students their answer.
“How could anyone say that you’re crazy when you look at medicine?” he said. “The horizons in medicine are endless, they’re vast and it’s going to help you grow. You’re going to have a positive impact for your patients, you’re going to have a positive impact for your community and you’re going to make it a better place for your community to live.
“I wouldn’t do anything else, I wouldn’t change any road or decision that I made and I would do it all again.”
Dr. Kenter’s keynote address, which he delivered on Saturday, September 9, 2017, during the White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2021, served to buoy WMed’s fourth class of aspiring physicians as they prepared to embrace the successes – and take on the challenges – of medical school.
During the ceremony, each of the 84 students was presented with their white coat as their family and friends cheered and applauded inside Kalamazoo’s Chenery Auditorium.
Kylie Miller, a second-year student and president of the medical school’s Class of 2020, told the new students that she was overwhelmed by the crazy, amazing and exciting things she learned, saw and did in her first year of medical school. She told them to think of medical school as “trying to scale a 100-foot wall without any hand holds or ropes, or water.”
To get through it all, Miller said, the students will have to rely on one another.
“The only way you can make it to the top is to do it with the help of the people sitting next to you now,” Miller said. “By standing on one another’s shoulders and trusting that the person beneath you won’t let you fall and that the person above you will always turn around and offer you a hand up.”
Miller told her new counterparts that they’ll also have the support of their professors and family and friends as they make their way through medical school. With all of the challenges that await them, Miller told the students to never be afraid to ask for help.
“My best advice to you is to grab on to every second you get to experience these next four years,” Miller said. “Be fully present in the moment. Live it, breathe it, love it, because everything that you’re a part of is something you can learn from. It is something that will make you a better doctor, a better person, or both.
“WMed is truly a special place,” she added. “We are a community, a culture, a family, so on behalf of the student body, welcome home. We are so excited to see the amazing physicians we know you will become over the next four years.”
A doctor’s white coat has long been the widely recognized symbol of the medical profession. However, it wasn’t until 1993 that the White Coat Ceremony was founded by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which concluded that the beginning of a student’s journey into medicine is the best time to influence the standards of professionalism, humanistic values and behavior.
The white coat for each student at the White Coat Ceremony on September 9 was made possible by contributions from white coat sponsors. Each student received a handwritten note from their sponsor that was placed in the pocket of their white coat for them to read.
Dr. Hal B. Jenson, the medical school’s founding dean, told the Class of 2021 that wearing their white coat “is not only an expectation, but it’s a privilege.” He said the cloaking of each student by their learning community scholar advisor should serve as a reminder to them of the confidence that each faculty member at the medical school has “that you will become a dedicated physician true to your oath and a credit to the profession.”
“As you recite the Class of 2021 Medical Student Oath … remember the words you pledge today before each other, the faculty, your family and friends. Today’s ceremony is more than a ritual; you are pledging to follow the oath that you recite today.”
At one point in his address to the students at the White Coat Ceremony, Dr. Kenter left the students with no illusions that their time in medical school will be easy. The undertaking before them, he said, will be hard.
“If it was easy, everyone would do it, right?” he said. “… You have to understand how to strategize to self-improve. You have to learn everything because it’s not about you anymore, it’s about learning for the patient. It’s going to be hard but this is your duty – you’re going to learn how to become a selfless leader.”
Still, with all of that in mind, near the end of his keynote address Dr. Kenter told the students to always seek a balance in their life between their work and their families. And, most importantly, he reminded them to not forget to have fun.
“These are the best times of your life,” he said. “Have fun.”
A generous $1 million gift from Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan will fund an endowed palliative care fellowship at the medical school.
The gift, which was approved earlier this year by the Board of Directors at Hospice, is a launching point for the one-year fellowship, which will provide training for up to two physicians seeking certification in geriatric and chronic illness management care after their completion of residency.
“The implementation of palliative care in a community involves high-quality services, education about palliative care for families and providers, and the third sphere is workforce supply,” said Michael Raphelson, MD, medical director of Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan and a clinical assistant professor in the medical school’s Department of Family and Community Medicine. “This fellowship is really the third component of completing palliative care services in the community.”
Doug Czajkowski, the medical school’s Associate Dean for Development, said the $1 million gift is “a great start” towards getting the new fellowship up and running at WMed. The process of gaining approval of the new fellowship by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is underway.
He said the medical school will initially bring one fellow to Kalamazoo for the new palliative care program. According to Czajkowski, the medical school hopes to raise $4 million so that the endowment can fund the training of competent and compassionate palliative care physicians for the foreseeable future.
“We can’t thank (Hospice CEO) Jean Maile and the Hospice board enough for providing the resources to make this fellowship a reality,” Czajkowski said.
Dr. Raphelson said the new fellowship and the gift from Hospice could not come at a better – and more critical – time for the field of palliative care.
He said the new fellowship at WMed will help fill what he said is “an extreme shortage” in the number of certified palliative care providers in the U.S. Currently, he said, there are a little more than 5,000 certified providers despite an ever-growing need and a U.S. population that is aging rapidly.
“Never before have our demographics demonstrated the need more,” Dr. Raphelson said. “Ten thousand people turn 65 every day in this country and there are more families in Michigan with a member over the age of 65 than there are with children. There are 5.1 million people in the country with Alzheimer’s and there will be 7 million by 2020, and our elderly population is going to increase to 25 percent of the population by 2030.”
Once the new palliative care fellowship launches at WMed, Dr. Raphelson said fellows will be welcomed into a program that will offer them a wealth of experiences, including rotations at Kalamazoo’s two hospitals, Ascension Borgess and Bronson Methodist Hospital, as well as Bronson Battle Creek, the Battle Creek VA Medical Center, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan and the West Michigan Cancer Center.
“We’ll train two fellows per year with the goal that if they train here maybe they’ll stay here,” Dr. Raphelson said.
Maile credited Dr. Raphelson for being “the heart and visionary,” and the driving force behind the new fellowship. She said the new program and the decision by the Hospice Board of Directors to give the $1 million gift came after seven years of work by Dr. Raphelson to see a palliative care fellowship become a reality in Kalamazoo.
“This fellowship fulfills our mission of compassionate care at the end of life and will add resources to our community,” said Maile, who has led Hospice as its CEO for the past 25 years. “We thought if we could jumpstart it with a lead gift then that was something we could give back to the community … I think, at some point, you have to create an environment that starts the momentum and that’s what I thought this lead gift might be able to do.”
Dr. Raphelson said that in addition to helping feed the demand for certified palliative care physicians, he believes the new fellowship will also lead to increased awareness about palliative care among medical students and residents in Kalamazoo and spark interest among them and physicians in the community about broadening their skill set.
“I feel this community has everything it needs to provide high-quality palliative care training,” Dr. Raphelson said.
Czajkowski said the new fellowship is a clear example of the spirit of community collaboration that is needed for the fellowship – and the medical school – to be successful. To help get the new fellowship off the ground, he said, Bronson has agreed to fund the salary portion of the first year for the program’s first fellow.
“This fellowship shows how the community and our hospital partners are working with us to create programming that will benefit patients and the community at large,” Czajkowski said.
When she thinks about life after high school and college, Lexi Julien-Mouton doesn’t know yet what she wants to be or where she will work. But whatever the job, she says she knows she will be doing something in the medical field.
Given those aspirations, Lexi, 15, was in her element earlier this month as she took part in Early Introduction to Health Careers II, a two-week initiative that is part of WMed’s Summer Pipeline Program.
“I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to learn about things in the medical field,” Lexi, a junior at Loy Norrix High School, said of the time she spent in EIH II and the medical school’s Saturday Science Academy in the spring. “I love helping people. If I were to be a doctor, I would get to save lives and that is such a good feeling.”
EIH II is one of two pipeline programs at WMed and is made possible through a partnership with Kalamazoo College and grants from the Harold and Grace Upjohn, Dorothy U. Dalton and Irving S. Gilmore foundations.
At the heart of EIH II is an effort to stoke an interest in biomedical science and health careers among underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged high school students from Kalamazoo Public Schools and the Kalamazoo area. In the end, the hope is that EIH II will serve to build a more diverse student population that will enter the biomedical sciences and healthcare fields, reducing the disparities that exist.
“Our students in EIH II tell the story of what I consider the true vision for the pipeline program, which is to create, for high school students, inspiration to aspire for a career in science or healthcare that they may not have known about, and to help give them confidence that they can be successful now and in their future,” said Cheryl Dickson, MD, associate dean for Health Equity and Community Affairs. “The program gives students an opportunity to meet healthcare professionals in a variety of fields and to learn science in an engaging format with a healthcare lens. Students learn from each other, medical students and faculty in an environment that is safe, stimulating and fun.”
Lexi was one of 28 high school students who took part in EIH II this summer and the Saturday Science Academy in the spring. At the Science Academy, students spent their Saturdays at WMed and were presented with several opportunities to hear about healthcare careers and learn more about science through a healthcare lens. They also took part in a skills-based component in the medical school’s Simulation Center and learned about study skills and financial resources for college.
“This program has helped teach me more about going to college and what you need to do,” Lexi said. “Everyone that I’ve met here loves what they do because they’re saving lives and I would love to be one of those people too because not everyone can say they’ve saved a life.”
The students in EIH II this summer spent one week at K-College where they got hands-on experience working in a chemistry lab at the Dow Science Center. The next week was spent at WMed where the students worked in the medical school’s anatomy lab learning about the heart and lungs. They also spent time with Stryker engineers learning about some of the company’s latest innovations.
“The program taught me a lot of things about medicine and companies,” 15-year-old Josh McKissic, a junior at Loy Norrix said. “It just gave me an enlightenment into my own city … I want to be some type of engineer. “Biomedical, mechanical, something that’s good.
“Not only good for myself but good because I know I’m making a change. I don’t want to do something where I don’t have any passion.”
Josh said he enjoyed the time he and the other students spent in the anatomy lab at the medical school’s W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus during EIH II. Specifically, he said he valued the knowledge he gained while working with Dr. Wendy Lackey, an assistant professor of Anatomy in WMed’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.
Shante’ya Scott, 15, a junior at Kalamazoo Central High School, said EIH II opened her eyes to the numerous career options that there are in the field of medicine. She said she also enjoyed and valued the time she and the other students got to spend with different physicians, including surgeons.
“I enjoyed a lot of different parts of the program,” Shante’ya said. “I liked learning about the different careers and I really enjoyed the “Day in the Life” sessions in the (team-based learning halls).”
Lexi, meanwhile, said she knows after going through the EIH II program that her pursuit of a career in medicine won’t be easy, but the hard work it will require will be “totally worth it.”
“These people worked so hard for what they do but they love what they do,” Lexi said. “There’s no way I’m not going to college. I’ve got the Kalamazoo Promise, I’m going to use it.”
Enjoy this narrated slide show presentation on the features and benefits of the WMed Innovation Center and a brief tour of the Michigan entrepreneurial ecosystem. Let’s Get Started NARRATED
When her work day begins at WMed, Heidi Joshi, PsyD, enters the office with a four-legged companion by her side.
Dr. Joshi says she is the brains of their operation, but Lake, her 4-year-old German shepherd and guide dog, is her eyes and a helpful navigator, always there to keep her safe.
“She’s a pro,” said Dr. Joshi, 41, who has been blind since birth. “Her job is to make sure that I’m safe and I tell people I’m the brains of our operation but she’s the one who has veto power if I give her a command that puts us in jeopardy.”
Dr. Joshi and Lake came to WMed at the end of July when Dr. Joshi joined the faculty in the medical school’s Department of Medical Education as an assistant professor and behavioral health educator. Her arrival came after a six-year stint as a primary care behavioral health psychologist for Providence Medical Group in Portland, Oregon.
Her new role at WMed was a return home for Dr. Joshi. She grew up in Traverse City and graduated from Niles High School. After high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree in music and voice performance from Hope College.
Dr. Joshi said she is excited about being able to pursue her passion of teaching as a member of the faculty at the medical school. At the same time, she said she and her husband, and their two daughters, ages 9 and 4, are able to be closer to relatives here in Michigan.
“I really missed teaching and I felt like that was a huge gap in my work-life quality so when this position opened at WMed it was going to get me back into teaching and this medical school is really innovative,” Dr. Joshi said. “We loved being on the west coast but life changes and you have kids, and you settle down.”
Dr. Joshi works closely with physicians in the WMed’s primary care residencies to teach residents about behavioral health and psychosocial issues that may come up while providing care for their patients. Additionally, she is teaching residents how to develop and maintain appropriate relationships with their patients and how to properly address and manage patients’ mental health needs.
It is a role for which Dr. Joshi is well-suited. She pursued music as a major at Hope College but she jokes that her professional path eventually diverted because she “decided I probably needed to make a living.”
After completing her undergraduate studies, she earned a master’s degree in 1999 in Marital and Family Therapy from Northwestern University. Her interest in teaching resident physicians took root at Northwestern, Dr. Joshi said, and in 2006 she earned her Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. In 2007, she completed an internship and a postdoctoral fellowship at UC-Davis. More recently, in 2011, she earned a certificate in Primary Care Behavioral Health from the University of Massachusetts.
“I’ve always had an interest in what makes people tick, how relationships can promote healing and health,” Dr. Joshi said. “I’ve always been really curious about people … There was a part of me that wanted to go to medical school too and be a physician but I can still be in that realm and work with physicians and I really like teaching.”
Dr. Joshi and Lake have been together since 2014 and Dr. Joshi said she is thankful to have Lake by her side.
“Generally, what I tell people, when it comes to service dogs, you don’t want to pet a dog that’s working,” Dr. Joshi said. “When she’s wearing her harness, she’s working and I really tell people it’s best to ignore her. Even if she is laying next to me, she knows she’s working when she’s in her harness.
“She’s very friendly, but she’s also very business-like when she’s working,” Dr. Joshi added. “It doesn’t preclude you from coming up and talking to me. Introduce yourself, tell me your name. I love to talk and chat and learn about what folks are doing.”
Dr. Joshi said she has used a guide dog since her sophomore year at Hope College. The move was a lifestyle change for her as she pursued her studies and became used to the new responsibilities that came with having a guide dog.
“I really wanted a guide dog and I didn’t care what kind,” Dr. Joshi said. “I knew people at the time who had a dog and could move more easily and quickly, and I wanted that.”
Now that she’s at WMed, Dr. Joshi said she is looking forward to her new role and the chance to work with residents and medical students. She said she will also see patients at the WMed Clinics at the Oakland Drive Campus.
She said she is very appreciative of being welcomed to WMed and the institution’s willingness to embrace and value the diversity that she brings as an employee and educator.
“People with disabilities can do whatever they want to do but we have to provide accommodations and think outside the box,” Dr. Joshi said. “I’ve appreciated that about the folks that have hired me … At WMed, I felt that my perspective is valued and not just that the accommodations are necessary and important, but that they are a vehicle for making sure we get everything we can from what I have to offer and I appreciate that.”
Dr. Joshi said she has experienced obstacles during her time as a student and professional, but that those obstacles – and overcoming them – have made her stronger and equipped her with a tenaciousness that serves her well.
“I would say there have been obstacles and there have been really amazing people,” Dr. Joshi said. “I don’t do this alone; it has taken a lot of folks along the way who have believed in me.”
With that in mind, Dr. Joshi said she values the belief WMed has placed in her.
“I feel like, in a lot of ways, as a blind professional in medical settings, I’m pioneering something,” she said. “I’m embracing that but I can’t do that alone and it takes an entity like WMed to be willing to innovate and pioneer with me.
“It’s kind of a cool and a neat thing to be a part of.”
In July, Tammy Willard sat in Bronson Methodist Hospital beleaguered by two harsh realities.
The first was that her home in Kalamazoo’s Twinleaf mobile home park lacked a wheelchair ramp for her to easily enter and leave, often leaving her feeling trapped. And then, during her second day in the hospital, came the news that her mother had passed away.
In the middle of it all, she said, Michael Chavarria, a third-year student at WMed, walked into her hospital room and relieved some of her stress with a simple act of kindness – he offered to build a wheelchair ramp at her home.
“Mike,” Willard said recently, “was a blessing to come in and build this for us.”
Chavarria was completing his Internal Medicine clerkship and doing rotations at Bronson when he learned of Willard’s circumstances on July 2. On July 3, he said he offered to build the wheelchair ramp at her home and on the Fourth of July he arrived at her home to take the measurements he would need to complete the project.
Chavarria said a relative of Willard’s already had the metal wheelchair ramp to attach to the house. So, he sought the help of two of his classmates – M3s Jordan Fenlon and Felix Wan – as well as a neighbor who was an experienced contractor.
By July 29th, the project was finished.
“There was a need and I figured I could help,” Chavarria said of his decision – and willingness – to help Willard. “It was meaningful to them but it’s not like what I did is that big of a deal. It took a couple of days and a couple of hundred dollars and it was done.”
Willard, a Kalamazoo native, said she suffers from neurofibromatosis and has used a wheelchair for the last four years. Her husband, Steve, 53, broke his neck about a year ago and also uses a wheelchair, she said.
Willard said she and husband, along with their son and two daughters, have lived in the Twinleaf mobile home park since June 2017. Before Chavarria attached the wheelchair ramp to their front porch at the end of July, she said she and her husband lacked any way to get out of their home.
“We were trapped in our own home and when (Chavarria) said he would come and build it for us, I said, ‘Are your kidding me?’ and he said, ‘No, I’m going to come and build it for you.’”
Now, with the ramp in place, Willard said her husband is able to leave their home and take rides around their mobile home park and enjoy some fresh air. He also takes their grandchildren to a nearby park.
Willard said she also can get in and out of her family’s home more easily and her trips for doctor appointments are much less stressful.
“It’s perfect, we couldn’t ask for anything better,” Willard said. “Mike was an angel in disguise when he said could build the ramp for us.”
For Chavarria, he said he was glad that he could lend a hand to the Willards and provide help that made their lives a little better and their daily tasks a little easier.
“There are things that we don’t think about,” Chavarria said. “Being able to leave your house isn’t something I think a lot of us give thanks for, but for them that was a big deal. I’m glad I could help.”
Kevin Lobo, Chairman and CEO of Stryker, was joined by Ronda Stryker and almost 300 local employees and leaders during the company’s latest town hall meeting, which was held in the auditorium of the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus.
The quarterly meeting took place on Thursday, August, 3, 2017, and was streamed live to the company at its other U.S. and international locations.
During the meeting, the attendees got a chance to hear from WMed’s founding dean, Dr. Hal B. Jenson, in a video that was shot at the Upjohn Campus and produced by Stryker. In the video, Dr. Jenson discussed the medical school’s roots and its future.
“We are honored to have the name Homer Stryker M.D. as part of the name of the medical school,” Dr. Jenson said. “Homer Stryker was not only an outstanding physician, but he was a great individual. The stories about his connections with the community and his connections with patients that are just very warming and really exemplify the best attributes of both a competent and a compassionate physician … His legacy that he leaves in Kalamazoo includes this medical school.”
“This next generation is a generation that really wants to be connected with the community and I think that resonates with our mission.”
Typically, Lobo holds the town hall meetings at a Stryker office or division. However, given the medical school’s namesake and strong relationship with the company, WMed was chosen as the site for the company’s latest gathering.
Ask Dr. Thomas L. Rothstein about his passion for medical research and discovery, and the answer he gives is simple, to the point.
“I just like to find out how things work,” says Dr. Rothstein, WMed’s assistant dean for Investigative Medicine and director of the Center for Immunobiology.
In his lab at the medical school’s W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus, Dr. Rothstein and his team are engrossed in research aimed primarily at learning more about B cells and the antibodies that B cells produce.
Now, that important work has been bolstered by a $415,000 National Institutes of Health grant that was awarded in July to Dr. Rothstein and his team at WMed. The grant, which includes $275,000 for direct costs, will fund the two-year study, “Reprogramming BCR Signaling.”
The study, Dr. Rothstein said, will examine and seek to determine the molecular changes that account for the alternate pathway for antigen receptor (BCR) signaling in B cells that occurs following IL-4 receptor treatment.
Dr. Rothstein said the study follows a line of investigation he and his team have conducted for a number of years centered around the exploration of the signaling that leads to the activation of B cells and triggers the production of antibodies.
Through that previous work, Dr. Rothstein’s lab has shown that prior exposure to IL-4 alters the nature of BCR signaling in normal and malignant B cells and creates an alternate pathway for BCR signaling that is unique in being completely signalosome-independent. In a project summary he submitted to the NIH as part of his proposal for the new grant, he said his study “aims to identify the fundamental biochemical changes that are produced by IL-4 to establish the alternate pathway.”
Dr. Rothstein said that gaining a greater understanding of the mechanisms by which IL-4 prompts alternate-pathway signaling in normal B cells may impact understanding how IL-4 facilitates the expansion of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells.
“Which, if we understood that, we could try to block it,” Dr. Rothstein said. “If successful in the lab, such blockade might then represent a new candidate for CLL therapy.”
In the project summary he submitted to the NIH, Dr. Rothstein said the “high reward” of his study “is a much deeper understanding of how B cells, including malignant B cells, actually become activated in the milieau of cytokines that are experienced physiologically and pathologically in vivo.”
Lydia S. Dugdale, MD, an associate professor in the Section of General Internal Medicine and associate director of the Program for Biomedical Ethics at Yale School of Medicine, will come to Battle Creek in October as the featured speaker for the Sherwood B. Winslow M.D. Distinguished Lectureship.
The event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 17, 2017, at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek. WMed partners with the Battle Creek Community Foundation to sponsor the Winslow Lectureship twice each year.
Dr. Dugdale’s teaching commitments at Yale include clinical medicine and general ethics to medical students and residents. She is the director of a research ethics course for doctoral students.
Dr. Dugdale’s scholarship focuses on biomedical ethics, with particular emphasis on care at the end of life. Her lecture for October 17 is titled “The Art of Dying Well.”
Dr. Dugdale is editor of the book “Dying in the Twenty-first Century: Toward a New Ethical Framework for the Art of Dying Well.” She has published widely in peer-reviewed and popular press journals, including JAMA Internal Medicine, Journal of General Internal Medicine, Annals of Family Medicine, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Hastings Center Report, The Hill, KevinMD, and the Huffington Post. She has received grant funding from the John Templeton Foundation.
Currently, she is completing a master’s degree in philosophical ethics at Yale Divinity School. She received her medical degree from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine and completed her clinical training at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She practices primary care medicine with Yale Internal Medicine Associates.
The event on October 17 will begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour and hors d’oeuvres at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which is located at 1 Michigan Avenue East in Battle Creek. Dr. Dugdale’s presentation will begin at 7 p.m.
The Sherwood B. Winslow M.D. Distinguished Lectureship was created through a special endowment from Norman Williamson, Jr., as a tribute to honor his longtime friend. Williamson is the grandson of W.K. Kellogg, founder of the Kellogg Company and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The funds are used to hold the Sherwood B. Winslow M.D. Distinguished Lectureship. Each year since 1988, a well-respected speaker has been invited to Battle Creek to provide an insightful, thought-provoking lecture to physicians, allied health professionals, community members and family members of Dr. Sherwood B. Winslow.
Attendees can register for the event by visiting the Battle Creek Community Foundation website or by calling the foundation at 269.962.2181.
A physician who completed a four-year residency in Medicine-Pediatrics in June at the medical school is among four new faculty members who recently joined WMed.
Theo J. Gomes, DO, became an assistant professor in July in WMed’s combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency program. Dr. Gomes served as co-chief resident during his fourth year of training.
Dr. Gomes earned his DO degree from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2013 and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland in 2005, earning a bachelor’s degree in physiology and neurobiology.
As he begins his tenure at WMed, Dr. Gomes is being joined by several other new faculty members, including Marisha G. Agana, MD, who is serving as the director of Medical Education in the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Dr. Agana earned a bachelor’s degree in business economics from the University of the Philippines in 1981 and she later earned her MD degree in 1989 from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center in the Philippines.
Dr. Agana completed her residency in Pediatrics at what is now known as Rush University Medical Center in Chicago in 1993, serving as chief resident during her final year of training. Later, she completed three one-year fellowships in the divisions of General Academic Pediatrics and Hematology and Oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and earned a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
Prior to coming to WMed, Dr. Agana spent four years as a pediatric hospitalist at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio.
Meanwhile, Theodore T. Brown, MD, has joined the medical school’s Department of Pathology as an assistant professor.
Dr. Brown completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Science Pre-Professional and Anthropology in 2007.
In 2011, he graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine and then completed a four-year residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at the University of Michigan, serving as chief resident during his final year of training. In 2016, Dr. Brown completed a one-year fellowship in Forensic Pathology at the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department and, more recently, he was an assistant professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan and served as an assistant medical examiner and deputy medical examiner in Wayne and Washtenaw counties, respectively.
Matthew M. Zarantonello, PhD, has joined WMed’s Department of Psychiatry as a psychologist.
Dr. Zarantonello, who has been appointed as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry since 2014, earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Loyola University of Chicago in 1977 and followed that up with a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Loyola in 1980.
He earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology from Loyola in 1984 and went to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Battle Creek. Dr. Zarantonello worked at the VA Medical Center for almost 30 years before joining a private practice in 2014 in Portage, Michigan.
Dr. Tom Rothstein has announced the initiation of a research seminar series at WMed, Seminars in Investigative Medicine, and has developed a list of speakers that represent a veritable who’s who in the field of immunology for the 2017-2018 academic year.
The monthly series, which will kick off in October with an inaugural event at the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus, will serve as a gathering point for what Dr. Rothstein said is the community of investigators at WMed and “beyond the medical school.”
“This can be the focal point for bringing investigators together,” said Dr. Rothstein, assistant dean for Investigative Medicine and director of the Center for Immunobiology. “I want to get everyone talking and working together to promote new discoveries that help patients. In this context we want to help promote interactions with our local institutions, including Borgess Health, Bronson Healthcare and the West Michigan Cancer Center.”
Mark Jay Shlomchik, MD, PhD, will serve as the inaugural speaker for the new Seminars in Investigative Medicine when he visits WMed on Wednesday, October, 11, 2017. Dr. Shlomchik is an endowed professor and chair of the Department of Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The work in Dr. Shlomchik’s lab at Pitt is focused on systemic autoimmune diseases, long-lived B-cell immunity and immunopathogenesis. In his lab, he and other researchers are using transgenic and knockout mouse models to address the questions of how autoreactive B cells arise and what roles the cells play in mediating autoimmune disease.
The slate of speakers for the Seminars in Investigative Medicine who will follow Dr. Shlomchik includes:
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Michael Paul Cancro, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Patrick C. Wilson, PhD, associate professor, Department of Medicine-Section of Rheumatology, at the University of Chicago; member of the Committee on Immunology for the Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research
Wednesday, January 10, 2017
Barbara Kee, PhD, professor, Department of Pathology at the University of Chicago, member of the Committee on Immunology, the Committee on Cancer Biology and the Committee on Molecular Medicine/MPMM
The upcoming events will all be held at the Upjohn Campus and will be open to the public.
Dr. Rothstein said the new speaker series will serve to highlight the best and the brightest in the field of investigative medicine.
“We are bringing in people who will provide intellectual stimulation for us all and will talk about the latest, hottest stuff going on in their labs,” Dr. Rothstein said.
He said the events, he believes, will also create a broader awareness of WMed, of “what we have here and of the quality of the science we’re developing here.” He expressed the hope that all members of the WMed community – students, residents, fellows, faculty and staff – will come and participate.
On the first day of each new school year, as he welcomes a new class of medical students to WMed, Dr. Hal B. Jenson recalls his first day of medical school at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
He thinks about the excitement he felt, realizing his journey to becoming a doctor had begun.
Now, as the founding dean of WMed, Dr. Jenson said his years of experience as a physician and his work in academic medicine have taught him that the time one spends as a student and resident is about much more than knowledge gained and test scores.
“Medical school is not just for USMLE preparation,” Dr. Jenson said recently, referring to the standardized examinations that young physicians must pass to become licensed. “It is about knowledge, and gaining vital skills and abilities, but it’s also learning what it means to be a professional, and it’s about valuing the attitudes that shape our behaviors, the altruistic values that shape our character.”
That philosophy, Dr. Jenson said, drives the overall mission at WMed and was a shaping force behind the medical school’s Professional Code of Conduct and Educational Pledge for students, the more than 200 residents at WMed who are completing their medical training in Southwest Michigan, and all faculty and staff of the medical school.
With the arrival of new residents each June and new students in July, Dr. Jenson said the summer brings about growth in what he refers to as the WMed family. But, he said, it’s also important that the students and residents never forget that they are also part of the larger medical profession.
“Our responsibility is to ensure that students, residents, and faculty progress in their professional development. As a medical school, we have a responsibility to the medical profession at large to ensure that our students, residents, and faculty are meeting professional standards,” Dr. Jenson said. “Our Code of Professional Conduct and Educational Pledge embody the professional standards that, as a medical school, the rest of the medical profession is expecting us to uphold in our community.”
Dr. Jenson said faculty play a vital role in guiding students and residents as they navigate medical school and the next step in their training, respectively. The challenges of medical school and residency can be immense, and faculty are able to organize information in a logical way for learners so that, for example, students are able to build precept upon precept to understand very complicated topics and very complicated systems, he said.
“Faculty bring not just the facts, but the organization of the information and the clinical judgment that goes along with navigating those facts so the information is used in a constructive way,” Dr. Jenson said. “Some of those things you can’t test for. It is through the direct clinical supervision of students and residents that we assess judgment and insight and critical thinking and problem solving. Those abilities do not lend themselves to a written exam.”
“For students and residents, the acquisition of knowledge is necessary but not sufficient to be a caring and competent physician. You have to combine the knowledge with clinical judgment, and that clinical judgment comes from experience and practice.”
As that work for students and residents – and faculty – continues, Dr. Jenson said he is heartened by the growth the medical school has experienced since its start in July 2012 and the arrival of the inaugural MD class in 2014.
Next year, WMed will welcome its first residents for its new Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program. A new Family Medicine Residency Program at Bronson Battle Creek is anticipated to launch in 2019.
With the arrival of the MD Class of 2021 on July 31, there are now four classes of medical students at the medical school. Students in the inaugural Class of 2018 are preparing for Match Day on March 16, 2018, graduation in May, and then everything that awaits them in residency.
“We’re getting there,” Dr. Jenson said of the medical school’s growth and maturity. “In the admissions process, we’re now past adolescence. One of the reassuring outcomes is our first class of students are getting their scores back from USMLE Step 1, and they’ve done very well. It shows that we have done well as a medical school in educating and training our medical students.”
“This is another milestone for the medical school. Our medical students are well trained and prepared to enter residency training. We’re growing up as a medical school. In the next year or two we’re not going to look at ourselves as a ‘new’ school.”
The medical school today welcomed its newest students, a diverse group of future physicians who were selected from the largest pool of applicants ever tallied at WMed.
The 84 MD degree students who make up the Class of 2021 were chosen from a pool of 4,861 applicants, a figure that represents an 8 percent increase from the number of applicants for WMed’s Class of 2020, and is ahead of the growth in the national pool of applicants.
“I think it says a lot about our community and what we’ve built here at WMed that applications continue to increase and we continue to attract very strong students with our fourth class,” said Jean Shelton, director of Admissions and Student Life.
Shelton said she’s also proud that with each class of students WMed has welcomed since the inaugural class arrived in 2014, there has been an improvement in median MCAT scores. Indeed, the Class of 2021 boasts a median MCAT score of the 94th percentile compared to the 91st percentile for the Class of 2020.
“We’re really excited that our students come from a wide geographic background, bringing the full spectrum of pre-medical experiences and personal attributes in line with WMed’s mission and vision,” Shelton said. “These students are not only extremely academically prepared, they also have extremely strong personal attributes that will make them great team members and they’ll be able to learn from each other.”
The newest class includes 41 women, 42 men and one non-binary student from 25 states and Canada. They range in age from 20.1 years old to 40.3 years old with an overall average age of 24.8. Twenty-four students are from Michigan.
The newest students make up the medical school’s first full class of 84 students and WMed will admit up to that many students in coming years.
The group is coming to WMed by way of more than 50 undergraduate colleges where they pursued majors that include biology and chemistry, as well as psychology, economics, philosophy, public health, Spanish and neuroscience, among others. Fifteen of the students, or 18 percent, hold advanced degrees.
For the second year in a row, the University of Michigan has the largest contingent of students – 10 – in the Class of 2021, followed by the University of California-Berkeley and the University of California-Los Angeles. Locally, three students in the Class of 2021 completed their undergraduate studies at Western Michigan University and two attended Kalamazoo College. WMU and K-College both have preferred relationship status with WMed.
The admissions process at WMed recognizes the importance of diversity in healthcare by seeking to address populations typically underrepresented in medicine (URM), which are African-American, Hispanic and Native American/Alaskan.
Fourteen students in the Class of 2021 – 17 percent – come from demographic groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine. This adds to the diverse community of medical students and increases the total population of WMed students underrepresented in medicine to 13.5 percent.
Overall, 13.5 percent of WMed’s students come from populations typically underrepresented in medicine.
The students who make up the Class of 2021 are being joined at the medical school by two students who are pursuing Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degrees as part of WMed’s Bridge to MD Program. The program, which is now in its second year, is designed specifically for applicants to the medical school who have strong pre-medical experience and attributes, but would benefit from additional basic science preparation before beginning their quest to become a doctor.
The Bridge to MD program offers a distinct benefit for students, who will be automatically admitted to WMed and part of the Class of 2022 if they successfully complete each component of the program.
Shelton said she’s excited about the journey that awaits WMed’s newest students and noted that their arrival is one of several milestones for WMed that will happen between now and May 13, 2018, when the Class of 2018 graduates.
“The community has come together over the last four years and to see WMed reach full potential, become fully enrolled, and to really be talking about graduating our first class is bringing things full circle,” Shelton said. “Graduation will be here before we know it and we’re already recruiting our fifth year of medical students who will be here in 2018.”
The Class of 2021 will receive their white coats on Saturday, September 9, 2017, during a White Coat Ceremony at Kalamazoo’s Chenery Auditorium.
When he left the U.S. last year, foregoing his third year of studies at WMed to complete a prestigious, one-year Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellowship, Philip Bystrom had his eyes set on a career in global health after medical school and working in underserved and underdeveloped regions of the world.
Now, he said, that desire has only been strengthened by the time he spent abroad in Uganda.
“The trip confirmed that I want to do something with global health,” said Bystrom, who returned to WMed in July to restart his third year of medical school as a member of the Class of 2019. “I find infectious disease fascinating. I want to keep my mind open before I make a decision but this has definitely made me appreciate infectious disease.
“It’s a stimulating and interesting specialty and such a vast field. There’s a lot to study.”
Bystrom, who completed his undergraduate studies at Kalamazoo College, was one of 18 students who were awarded a fellowship. The fellowships are administered through six medical schools, including the University of Minnesota, that have established global health research programs and each school offers three fellowships a year.
Bystrom got the opportunity to spend time in Mbarara, Uganda, where he conducted clinical research under the mentorship of David Boulware, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine at the University of Minnesota.
Bystrom said his time with Dr. Boulware was invaluable and he gained confidence in himself thanks to Dr. Boulware's willingness to let him have an active role in daily research and decision-making.
“It was kind of intimidating and I just kind of showed up out of nowhere,” Bystrom said. “I was astonished at how much he treated me like an equal and not a student. That confidence I gained to make my own decisions is something I took away from the experience.”
Bystrom presented his research on Dengue fever at a Doris Duke research conference and, this month, his work earned an American Society of Tropical Health and Hygiene Travel Award. With the award, Bystrom will get the opportunity to present his research in November at the ASTMH Annual Meeting in Baltimore.
“I’m very happy I took part in the fellowship,” Bystrom said. “It was a really worthwhile experience … It gave me a really broad exposure to international health.”
He said the hospital, which is located in western Uganda, had unpolished cement floors and patients slept in a large hallway on beds comprised of a box spring with cardboard on their tops. He said blankets and linens were provided by patients’ family members who helped care for them at the facility. He said there were regular shortages of supplies such as saline and other basic drugs.
“It makes you realize what we take for granted here in the U.S.,” Bystrom said. “Here, we have everything we could ever ask for as practitioners.”
Bystrom said his research in Uganda included work with Dr. Boulware on a clinical trial examining the efficacy of adjunctive sertraline in the treatment of cryptococcal meningitis in HIV-positive patients.
He also did research examining the accuracy of a new PCR-based test aimed at quicker detection of TB meningitis. The study, “Diagnostic Accuracy of Xpert MTB/Rif Ultra for TB Meningitis in HIV-infected adults: a prospective cohort study,” was just recently accepted for publication in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the world’s leading journal in infectious diseases.
In light of his experience, Bystrom said he envisions himself – after medical school and residency – pursuing work where he can use his skills as a doctor to help patients who have been neglected by the healthcare system and don’t have access to the types of resources that patients enjoy in the U.S.
“I like the cultural diversity of global health and the opportunities out there to work with people who are underserved and underprivileged,” Bystrom said.
Now, back at WMed, Bystrom said he has gotten back into the swing of medical school and has completed clerkships in Family Medicine and Pediatrics and this month began a new clerkship in Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology.
He said he feels more prepared for his third year of medical school after spending a year abroad.
“I was pretty heavily involved in rounding and medical activities while I was abroad,” Bystrom said. “I feel like I have more confidence in my abilities after spending a whole year doing clinical duties. I fell more ready for third year than I did when I left.”
During the work week, Deirdre Moore spends her days at the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus helping students navigate the complexities of financial aid for medical school.
But when the weekend comes Moore, WMed's Director of Financial Aid, makes the drive from Kalamazoo to her home in Dearborn where she immerses herself in Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan, an ancient martial art that, for Moore, has become a passion – and a pathway to a healthier life – over the past 13 years.
“I was looking for something to help with stress management,” Moore said of taking up tai chi in 2004. “Tai chi is described as meditation in motion, it promotes focus and it has a meditative aspect to it, in addition to being good for managing stress, blood pressure, breathing and circulation.
“There are all kinds of benefits to it.”
While the health benefits of tai chi are unquestionable for Moore, her decision to pursue the martial art and become a certified Wu Style Tai Chi instructor has opened doors for her, including the opportunity in May and June to compete in the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan tournament in Singapore and take part in celebrations of the 80th anniversary of Wu Style Tai Chi in Hong Kong and the 60th anniversary of the Jien Chuan Tai Chi Chuan Physical Culture Association in Singapore along with Wu stylists from all over the world.
During the competition in Singapore, Moore competed in the 54-form of Wu Style on May 27. The 54-form, which encompasses a sequence of 54 continuous tai chi movements, was among several events held during the competition at a large convention center in Singapore.
While it was daunting to compete with the finest tai chi practitioners in the world, Moore expressed her appreciation and gratitude for the founders of Wu Style Tai Chi, as well as the current Grandmaster, Eddie Wu Kwong Yu.
“I think the best thing about competition is that you spend a lot of time training seriously,” Moore said. “It gives you great motivation to improve as much as you can before a competition … I think it challenges you to do your best tai chi and you get the appreciation of seeing other people who are world champions. There’s really a supportive network of practitioners and instructors.”
Moore said tai chi helps her manage day-to-day stress and when she first gave the martial art a try in 2004 she was looking for a physical activity that would provide her relief from chronic back pain caused by injuries she suffered in a car crash.
Lucky for her, Moore said she began her journey into tai chi with an excellent instructor, Sifu Genie Parker, who runs the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan Academy in Ann Arbor and is a disciple of Grandmaster Eddie Wu Kwong Yu.
On the weekends, Moore assists Parker in teaching tai chi at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Classes are also held there on Tuesdays.
Moore said the popularity of tai chi is on the rise and it has proven to be beneficial for many individuals, including senior citizens with arthritis. The Saturday classes in Dearborn, which typically draw 20 to 25 people, have included attendees with diabetes and chronic pain. Parker also teaches sitting tai chi classes for people dealing with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
At WMed, Moore has done tai chi workshops for students as part of the medical school’s wellness elective and she said she would be interested in starting a tai chi class at the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus.
“I got into tai chi for the health benefits,” Moore said. “It’s called a soft martial art because it’s internal. You’re generating internal energy and you’re using physics as a way to drive movement. The saying in tai chi is ‘If you don’t move, I don’t move. If you move, I move faster.’”
As she looks to the future, Moore said she will go back to Singapore and Hong Kong to compete again. “It’s motivating to see I’ve got higher levels to achieve,” she said. “Tai chi really is a lifelong commitment if you want it to be. It’s a continual improvement process and you’re never done learning.
“Like any art form, you’re never done mastering your craft.”