The Holiday Season

Dean Termuhlen's Take Header

With the holiday season in full swing, our dean Dr. Paula Termuhlen took a moment to talk about her favorite holiday traditions, how she plans to recharge during the holiday season, and what’s on her holiday wish list for WMed.

Dean Termuhlen's Take PhotoDuring this holiday season, what are you most thankful for personally and professionally?

I’m very thankful for my health. Given the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, I don’t take that for granted. I’m also grateful that my family has not been directly impacted yet by COVID-19 and everyone is healthy and doing the things they want to do. From a professional standpoint, I am very thankful for the opportunity to be here in Kalamazoo. This time last year, I was waiting to hear whether or not I would be joining WMed and it was right around the Christmas holiday when I was filled with excitement as I was be able to accept this opportunity. We have so many good people and great things to offer at WMed, and having the privilege to lead that effort is really something that’s very exciting that I’m very thankful for.

What three things are on your holiday wish list for WMed?

The first item on my wish list is a compelling and inspirational vision that can really help us get to the place where members of the medical school community know more clearly what we are trying to accomplish at WMed. I want them to understand why they’re here, what we’re about, and feel an attachment to the work that we do. Second on my list is that we fill all of our open leadership roles with highly talented candidates that can help us grow and develop WMed, and help us to continue to be of service to Southwest Michigan. The third thing on my wish list is I want to hear about more exciting things that we do at WMed that I can brag about to the larger community. One of the most exciting things about my job is I get to brag about the cool things we’re doing here and the important work that’s taking place every day. So, I’m looking forward to hearing more of those stories that I can share.

What’s your new year’s resolution?

My new year’s resolution is to do something that I typically ask members of my leadership team when they come for their one-on-one visits and that is, ‘What are you doing for self-care?’. So, I’m going to make sure that I’m getting regular exercise and good sleep, and good reflective time. It has been a year of transition for me and my family and we recently moved into our new home in Kalamazoo. It’s now time to focus on making sure I have good practices in place to take care of myself.

How do you plan to recharge over the holidays?

When I take time off to recharge and regroup I don’t check my email and I don’t make business phone calls unless there is an absolute emergency. I encourage everyone else to have a similar practice. Studies have shown that when you truly disconnect you actually come back in a much better space. So, recharging for me over the holidays will include time away with my family. We have a place that we’ve rented in the middle of Wisconsin where my adult children can drive to, along with our grandson, and my husband and I will be there with our dogs and we’ll spend a few days together. We will also celebrate my birthday just before the new year begins and mark the arrival of 2022 with close friends. It’s important for all of us to have that time away during the holiday season. Our work will always be there for us when we return.

What’s your favorite family holiday tradition?

Two of my children were born in Bulgaria and one was born in India, and my grandparents immigrated from Poland so during the holidays we celebrate by making sure we have different foods to share, including Bulgarian and Indian dishes, and I have my own recipe for cabbage rolls. Specifically, we always take time to make banitsa, a Bulgarian pastry that is supposed to foster good luck for the new year. I admit that Indian food is still a work in progress for me but my son and I have had some success with samosas and rasgulla.

What message would you like to send to the WMed community, as well as the broader community, during this holiday season?

My message is one of sincere gratitude for the work that we’ve done and for the opportunities that we have to do even more good work as the new year arrives. We’ve celebrated our 10-year anniversary and we have a solid foundation in place. I’m really looking forward to having the opportunities in the new year to give back more to our community and really establish ourselves even more as a community-focused medical school within Southwest Michigan.

A Hat Tip from Dr. T

I want to take a moment to recognize three of our faculty members – Cheryl Dickson, MD, MPH; Lisa Graves, MD, and Catherine Kothari, PhD – as well as Grace Lubwama, CEO of YWCA Kalamazoo, and our hospital partners, Ascension Borgess and Bronson Healthcare, for their continued leadership and work to address infant mortality in our community. Their contributions to the Cradle Kalamazoo initiative have helped shape efforts around addressing an important issue that really is a key marker of the overall health of a community.

Dean Termuhlen’s Take On ... is a monthly message from our dean to discuss topics of importance to WMed, medical school stakeholders, and the communities that make up Southwest Michigan. Is there a topic you would like to hear Dean Termuhlen’s take on? Let us know by sending a message to