Dr. Karen Horneffer-Ginter
Karen Horneffer-Ginter, PhD
Assistant Dean for Wellness

In partnership with the Fetzer Institute, the WMed Wellness Initiative was launched in 2019 to expand our school’s promotion of well-being and excellence at both an individual and organizational level. Our mission is to support, educate, and inspire all members of the medical school community to nurture mind-body-spirit wellness for themselves, others, and the community as a whole. This focus goes hand-in-hand with WMed’s mission to train competent and compassionate physicians who seek to treat the whole patient. By bringing wellness to the forefront, we help create a healthy climate which supports all members of the WMed community to embody our Values in Action.

WMed Wellness Initiative

The wellness of all within the WMed community is paramount to our mission at the medical school. We seek to provide our employees with the resources they need to support work-life balance and give our students the tools to navigate the rigors of undergraduate and graduate medical education.

As you review our wellness offerings and resources, feel free to reach out with any questions.

  • UME and GME Wellness Curricula

    Guiding Principles

    The WMed Wellness Curricula are guided by the importance of skill development in three areas:

    • Identifying and implementing personal well-being strategies
    • Evaluating strategies & obstacles regarding integration into patient care
    • Demonstrating wellness leadership by contributing toward and promoting a culture of wellness at WMed and in future work/community settings

    Across our Undergraduate and Graduate Medical Education, these principles inform our wellness curricular topics, which are organized into five content areas: 

    • Personal well-being
    • Mind-body tools 
    • Resilience strategies 
    • Values/spirituality/creativity reflection
    • Professional wellness

    Medical students are exposed to these topics throughout their “Professions of Medicine” longitudinal course and within each of the four Transition Blocks. Additionally, elective courses and voluntary co-curricular activities are available.  

    The ACGME requirements for “Well-Being” are addressed across our Residency Programs, with a particular emphasis on burnout prevention skills. Additional wellness content is tailored to meet the specialty and scheduling needs of each program.

  • Wellness Offerings

    Fitness, yoga, and meditation offerings are available to WMed employees and students. Contracted classes through West Hills and Down Dog Yoga will require a co-pay of $5 for faculty and staff, and $3 for students, residents, and fellows. For your convenience, no preregistration is necessary. Instead, co-pay bundles ($5 x 3, 6, 9, 12, or 15 for for faculty and staff - or $3 x 4 for students, residents, and fellows) can be purchased in advance through the CE Cloud portal. You will then be given an activity code to submit by text on the same business day for each noontime event you attend. When purchasing co-pay bundles, employees will be asked if they would like reimbursement from eligible fitness/wellness stipend funds. These reimbursements will be issued quarterly. We'll be piloting this structure through August and look forward to your feedback!

    Class descriptions are below. Refer to the Wellness calendar for specific dates and locations.

    Class Descriptions and Cost

    Offering Description Cost
    West Hills Group Fitness Training This 40-minute workout offers a circuit-style format using strength training mixed in with high-intensity interval training. All fitness levels welcome

    Employees: $5

    Students: $3

    Down Dog Yoga This 40-minute class offers a balance of energizing and relaxing yoga poses and sequences aimed to meet the needs of those new to yoga and those with previous experience. Please bring a yoga mat (there will be a few extra mats on-hand if needed).

    Employees: $5

    Students: $3

    Mindfulness Meditation In this 30-minute class, participants will be guided in a mindfulness meditation. All levels of experience are welcome. No cost
    Mid-Day Renewal

    This 15- to 30-minute offering (which can include guided meditation and/or simple stretches) can be requested at a date, time, and campus location that is convenient for you and your colleagues.  Reach out to wellness@med.wmich.edu to schedule a Mid-Day Renewal session.

    No cost
    Chair Massage Back, neck and shoulder massage. To sign up, e-mail  annette.fox@med.wmich.edu. Currently available at the W.E. Upjohn M.D. and Oakland Drive campuses as listed in the Wellness Calendar. $1 per minute
  • CE Wellness Workshops

    Opportunities to learn more about a variety of wellness topics are available to all members of the WMed community through bi-monthly Wellness Workshops. Below is a list of upcoming offerings with links to register.

    1.5 CE hours are available for each session. Please refer to the Wellness calendar for location and registration information. Workshops are available to all WMed employees at no cost.

    Topic Identifying and Embracing Our Strengths: A Simple Tool for Improving Our Well-Being

    Identifying our character strengths and exploring ways of integrating them into the challenging, boring, and enjoyable aspects of our day can be a wonderful way of enhancing our well-being. We’ll start our time in this workshop taking the VIA Strengths Survey and discuss the usefulness of this tool. 

    Date/Time Wednesday, July 17, 2019, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
    Location W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus
    Presenters Horneffer-Ginter


    Topic Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practices and Benefits of Being in the Here and Now

    This workshop offers an overview of the popular practice of mindfulness by considering its importance, benefits, and forms. We’ll explore several mindfulness activities and assist participants in identifying a daily practice to try out.  

    Date/Time Wednesday, September 4, 2019, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
    Location Oakland Drive Campus
    Presenters Schauer and Horneffer-Ginter


    Topic Practicing Gratitude: The Why and How of Giving Thanks and What to Do When We're Just Not Feeling It

    The act of “giving thanks” can sometimes seem over-rated and annoyingly forced upon us, however, research has consistently demonstrated the benefit of authentic gratitude practices and perspectives in fostering emotional well-being. In this workshop, we’ll explore several daily practices and address how to relate to the inevitable times in life when gratitude isn’t possible. 

    Date/Time Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
    Location W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus
    Presenter Horneffer-Ginter


    Topic Stress Management and Burnout Prevention

    Stress affects us all. You may notice symptoms of stress when disciplining your kids, during busy times at work, when managing your finances, or when coping with a challenging relationship. Stress is everywhere. And while a little stress is OK -- some stress is actually beneficial -- too much stress can wear you down and make you sick, both mentally and physically. This session helps to define what stress is, estimate your stress level through the use of a quick self-assessment, and then offers techniques to reduce, relieve, and manage the stress level in your life.

    Date/Time Friday, January 17, 2020, 2:30-4:30 p.m.
    Location Oakland Drive Campus
    Presenter Daudert and Horneffer-Ginter


    Topic Self-Compassion: How Best to Support Ourselves Through Life's Ups and Downs

    We live in a culture where excessive and unproductive self-criticism is all too common and, unfortunately, can lead to burnout. This session addresses the three components of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness and explores practices to promote emotional well-being. 

    Date/Time Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
    Location W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus
    Presenter Horneffer-Ginter


    Topic Maximizing Well-Being and Happiness: Actions We Can Take to Better Our Lives

    This workshop provides an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on various dimension of your well-being—what you most value and how you spend your time—in order to identify actions you can take to improve your mind-body-spirit wellness. We’ll also draw on key principles from the positive psychology field to explore how they can help maximize our self-care activities. 

    Date/Time Wednesday, May 6, 2020, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
    Location Oakland Drive Campus
    Presenter Horneffer-Ginter
  • Lunch and Learns

    Opportunities to learn more about a variety of wellness topics are available to all members of the WMed community through monthly Lunch and Learns. Below is a list of upcoming offerings with links to register.

    Bring your lunch and join us for these informative presentations. All Lunch & Learns are offered at no cost. Please refer to the Wellness calendar for location and registration information.

    Topic Date/Time Location Presenter
    Your WMed Benefits: Resources You Don't Want to Overlook
    • Wednesday, May 15, 2019, Noon-1:00 p.m.
    • Friday, May 17, 2019, Noon-1:00 p.m.
    • Oakland Drive Campus
    • W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus
    Brooke Kolodzieczyk, WMed Human Resources
    Mindfulness: The What, Why, and How of Starting a Practice Today Tuesday, June 11, 2019 Oakland Drive Campus Schauer and Horneffer-Ginter
    Innovative Approaches to Workplace Wellness - or How a Hospital Came to Open a Grocery Store Wednesday, August 14, 2019 W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus Rob Oakleaf and Grant Fletcher, Bronson Methodist Hospital
    Food as Medicine: The Vision of the KVCC Community Culinary & Nutrition Program Wednesday, October 16, 2019 W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus Lizzie Luchsinger
    The Art of Healing: A Visual Journey into the Transformative Power of Visual Art Across Patient Populations Friday, November 22, 2019 W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus Gay Walker
    What in the World is Ayurveda? An Introduction to Yoga's Sister Tradition of Lifestyle and Nutritional Well-Being Wednesday, December 18, 2019 W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus Kara Aubin
  • Wellness Challenges
    Each month, a new Wellness Challenge will be announced with the opportunity to earn some WMed swag. Stay tuned to the Wellness calendar and the Insider Newsletter for more details.
  • Wellness Tips

    Mindfulness: Start a Practice Today

    The term MINDFULNESS is seen quite frequently these days, both in scholarly research and on magazine covers. So, what exactly is mindfulness, and how can it be of benefit?

    Mindfulness means to bring one’s attention and awareness into the present moment, which is both a simple act and also a challenging practice given the many demands that pull our attention in every other direction. In the 1980s, molecular biologist, Jon Kabat-Zinn, first demonstrated the utility of mindfulness practice for patients suffering from chronic pain. Since then, researchers have continued to study its benefits for an array of physical and mental health conditions, with recent attention being given to the role of mindfulness in the medical field. 

    There are four common encouragements in mindfulness practice:

    • Focus on the here and now (as opposed to thinking about the past or future)
    • Be fully present (noticing one’s sensory experience) 
    • Adopt a beginner’s mind (allowing our experiences to be fresh, with an observing curiosity)
    • Offer self-kindness (holding the intention of non-judgement toward our inner-experience)

    Traditionally, the practice of mindfulness is done while sitting, however, it can also be integrated into most any activity we’re doing, or done intentionally in the form of a “contemplative practice” (see www.contemplativemind.org for inspiration).

    Want to give it a try?

    Consider if you want to practice with others or alone. If you’d like to practice with others, reach out to wellness@med.wmich.edu and we’ll make it happen right here, or look for an ongoing class or training in the community. If you’d rather practice alone, decide on a time and place where you can sit comfortably and consider using an app like Headspace (now available to AMA member physicians, medical students, and residents for free). Start with a simple goal that you can stick with for at least a month.

    A simple sitting practice is to notice your breath, and note in your mind, “in” on the inbreath and “out” on the outbreath. You can also note the moment the breath turns from an inhalation to an exhalation, and the moment the outbreath finishes, and a new inbreath begins. Sometimes people find it helpful to count the breath in their mind, possibly up to 10 (you can then start over) as another way of anchoring one’s attention in the moment.  

    You can also try mindful walking by paying attention to both the physical experience of walking (how your weight shifts from one step to the next) along with the sights and sounds you notice around you. 

    Another practice, which Oreos has capitalized on in their recent ad campaign (can we blame them?) is mindful eating. In this practice, we slow down and while in silence, make a point of noticing all the nuances that usually get ignored in this everyday activity.

    If you don’t have time to set aside for a formal practice, consider inserting brief pauses throughout the day—take an intentional breath and bring your attention back to the moment. Reminders, whether on sticky notes or smart phones, can help us with this practice given how easy it is to forget to pause in the moments when we most need to. 

    What do people at WMed have to say about practicing mindfulness?

    Laura Eller: “I use guided mediation in order to fall asleep. I still find it difficult to believe that this works, but it does. Forcing yourself to focus on your breathing and how your body feels makes it possible to disconnect from “revving” the brain with all the professional and personal issues and lets you ‘ease into sleep.’ I began using the Insight Timer meditation app a few years ago, after learning about meditation at Miraval, a wellness and life in balance resort in Tucson. I recently returned to Miraval and received additional meditation and mindfulness training, and now use meditation in the morning and evening. I started with five minutes; I now do 45 minutes each time. Start small. Just take a minute for a few deep breaths. Sometimes this small effort works. Is it enough? No – but it is better than doing nothing.”

    Mark Schauer: “I have not always been a good role model for work-life balance. Over the years, however, I have actively focused on self-improvement with consistent efforts in exercise and meditation. There are many demands on our time and many requirements for success in our career and home life. Granting myself permission to take better care of me has been worth the time and effort. “

    Nastassia Drosdick (M3) was so impressed by the Mind-Body Medicine Program she was involved in at Georgetown University that, this spring, she created a 10-week longitudinal Mind-Body elective for M2 students that Mark Schauer and I have been involved with. The verdict? I think it’s fair to say we all feel a bit more centered and uplifted from the mindfulness time-outs we’ve been able to take. 

  • EAP & Emergency Services

    Our Employee Assistance Program, MyLibertyAssist, is a free, confidential, voluntary support service that is fully accessible to employees, students, and immediate household members to help find solutions to their challenges, and in a manner that is best suited to individual preferences, comfort level, and lifestyle. MyLibertyAssist is completely confidential and provides a wide range of services including:

    • Short‑term professional counseling for support for personal and emotional issues including stress, anger, death and dying, and alcohol and substance abuse. You may choose the counseling delivery option that makes is most comfortable including telephone, online chat, or in‑person.

    • Family support services connects you with a Family Support Specialist for personalized assistance with family planning, parenting, childcare, eldercare, daily living support, and more.
    • Legal support services provide telephone or in‑person consultation with attorneys to address legal questions surrounding divorce, custody, adoption, real estate, debt, bankruptcy, landlord/tenant issues, and more.
    • Financial support services provide consultation with financial professionals to address financial questions surrounding budgeting, debt management, tax issues, and more.

    MyLibertyAssist is available by telephone or website 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Access services by calling 866.695.6327 or online by logging on to workhealthlife.com/MLAEAP. This website also provides resources to find a therapist or psychiatrist who is available through these benefits. Additional information about MyLibertyAssist is available from our Human Resources Benefits Specialist at 269.337.4479.

    Emergency Mental Health Services 

    For emergency behavioral and mental health crises, employees and students can access the Gryphyon Place 24‑hour community HelpLine at 269.381.4357.

  • Burnout Prevention Resources

    In response to increasing concerns about the risk of burnout within the field of medicine, many national organizations have developed resources for students, residents, and professionals at all stages of their career. The following links contain assessment tools and information to offer support if you’re struggling yourself or concerned about colleagues or loved ones. 

    Locally, WMed offers mental health resources to those in need, along with Bronson Hospital’s 24/7 confidential Physician Help Line at 269.341.6999.   

    Survey Measures

    Well-being Index (quick, free, anonymous and linked to resources): https://www.mededwebs.com/well-being-index

    Burnout Prevention Resources

    AMA Steps Forward: Preventing Physician Burnout: https://www.stepsforward.org/modules/physician-burnout

    AMA Steps Forward: Preventing Resident/Fellow Burnout: https://www.stepsforward.org/modules/physician-wellness

    Medscape Physician Burnout Course: https://www.medscape.com/courses/business/100012?src=wnl_pba_180922_mscpmrk_pbanew&uac=232252HR&impID=1746233&faf=1

    ACGME physician well-being resources: https://www.acgme.org/What-We-Do/Initiatives/Physician-Well-Being/Resources

    JED Foundation: https://www.jedfoundation.org/what-we-do/teens-young-adults/

    Resiliency Resources

    VIA Strengths Survey: https://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey

    National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative on Physician Well-Being and Resilience: https://nam.edu/initiatives/clinician-resilience-and-well-being/

    AMA Steps Forward: Joy in Medicine for Physicians: https://www.stepsforward.org/modules/joy-in-medicine

    AMA Steps Forward: Physician Resilience: https://www.stepsforward.org/modules/improving-physician-resilience

  • Well-Being Ambassador Trainings

    In order to foster involvement, leadership, and maximal impact, WMed, in partnership with the Fetzer Institute, offers Well-Being Ambassador Trainings. These trainings cover key concepts, strategies, and resources across 15 facets of mind-body-spirit wellness:  

    • Physical activity
    • Nutrition/functional medicine
    • Sleep hygiene 
    • Stress-management and burnout prevention
    • Character strengths
    • Resilience
    • Psychological balance/internal dynamics
    • Wellness assessment
    • Mindfulness, relaxation, and reflection practices
    • Self-compassion, empathy, and presence
    • Spirituality, purpose and health
    • Medical humanism
    • Multiculturalism and wellness
    • Systems dynamics
    • Wellness leadership 

    Participants are asked to reflect on the application of this content in relation to their own well-being and to identify ways in which they can promote individual and institutional wellness in their daily interactions with colleagues, students, patients, and community members. Trainings involve a day at Fetzer’s Seasons Retreat Center along with sessions at WMed. For physicians, faculty, nurses, staff, and residents/fellows, 8 CE hours will be available. For students, trainings are offered as an M1/M2 elective. Interested participants are asked to submit a brief letter of interest to their chair/supervisor and to Karen Horneffer-Ginter.

    Fall Trainings

    • Introduction: Thursday, November 7, 2019, 3:00-4:00 p.m., W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus, or Monday, November 11, 2019, 1:00-2:00 p.m., Oakland Drive Campus.
    • Retreat: Wedesday, November 20, 2019, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Fetzer Seasons Retreat Center
    • Wrap-Up: Friday, December 6, 2018, 11:00 a.m.-Noon, W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus


    • Introduction: Thursday, November 21, 2019, 11:00 a.m.-Noon, Oakland Drive Campus, or Friday, November 22, 2019, 3:00-4:00 p.m., W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus
    • Retreat: Thurs 12/5 9:00-4:00 Fetzer’s Seasons Retreat Center
    • Wrap-Up: Tuesday, December 17, 2019, 3:00-4:00 p.m., W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus

    Winter Trainings

    • Introduction: Monday, February 10, 2020, 3:00-4:00 p.m., W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus
    • Retreat: Thursday, February 20, 2020, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Fetzer Seasons Retreat Center
    • Wrap-Up: Thursday, March 5, 2020, 3:00-4:00 p.m., W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus


    • Introduction: Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 3:00-4:00 p.m., W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus
    • Retreat: Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Fetzer Seasons Retreat Center
    • Wrap-Up: Thursday, March 12, 2020, 3:00-4:00 p.m., W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus

    Student Electives

    M2 Elective: Week of February 3, 2020

    M1 Elective: Week of February 10, 2020


  • Spirituality and Health

    The Fetzer Institute: Spirituality is an essential component of whole person well-being. We are proud to be partnering with the Fetzer Institute in our Wellness Initiative, a philanthropic organization that has been a leader in whole person health for decades. Please refer to their site for additional sources of inspiration. Learn more at https://www.fetzer.org.

    ISAAC: Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy & Action in the Community (ISAAC) is an interfaith organizing network of congregations and strategic partners working together to build a more just community. For more information, please visit https://isaackalamazoo.org/.

  • Interest Groups

    Spirituality and Health Book Club

    Our first book will be Kate Bowler’s “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved.” More details will be available in September 2019.

    Are you interested in bringing together others at WMed around a hobby or activity you love? We can help. Email wellness@med.wmich.edu and we’ll assist with getting the word out.