Dr. Karen Horneffer-Ginter
Karen Horneffer-Ginter, PhD
Assistant Dean for Culture and 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.

For a schedule of weekly WMed Wellness offerings, refer to the Wellness Calendar or check your email inbox for regular updates.

  • COVID-19 Personal Support

    As we focus on the needs of our patients, learners, and colleagues, we must not lose sight of the need to take care of ourselves. Part of our attention and time, at all times but especially now, needs to be on making sure we are as resilient as we can be individually. The following resources are available to support WMed employees, students, and their loved ones.

    WMed EAP: Offering immediate and confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services that are accessible 24/7/365 by calling 1.866.695.6327 or visiting workhealthlife.com. The website features additional information and tips on coping with trauma. Members of the Traumatic Event Support Team are available to support you and your family. Organization ID: WMED

    Peer-Support at WMed: Offering individual peer-support for students and residents/fellows and group check-ins via Teams on Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. Contact alicia.aleardi@med.wmich.edu /586-549-5482(c)

    Community Mental Health Providers: Offering telehealth services and having a familiarity with the WMed community

    Critical Incident Response Team: Offering debriefings and crisis support. Contact michael.redinger@med.wmich.edu/708.250.1965(c) or karen.horneffer-ginter@med.wmich.edu/269.779.2094(c)

    KAMA & MedMates: Offering support to significant others and family members of physician providers and residents/fellows/students. Contact the Kalamazoo Area Medical Alliance at https://www.kalamazooama.org/ and MedMates at https://www.facebook.com/groups/medmates/

    Together, we overcome.

  • Medical School (UME) Curriculum and Well-Being in Medicine Distinction Program

    Guiding Principles

    The WMed Wellness Curriculum is 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 Medical Education, these principles inform our wellness curricular topics, which are organized into three content areas: 

    • Professional and Personal Well-Being
    • Mind-Body Medicine 
    • Arts/Humanities/Spirituality

    We are pleased to announce that beginning in the fall of 2020, students can elect to graduate with a “Distinction in Well-Being in Medicine” by meeting a series of elective requirements. This program is based on our commitment to prepare graduates to be leaders and advocates for creating systemic change to support lifelong physician well-being. Program requirements can be accessed on Teams (see the Team named “Well-Being in Medicine Distinction Program Requirements”)

    Along with the Distinction Program, medical students are exposed to these topics throughout their “Profession of Medicine” longitudinal course and within each of their Transition Blocks. Additionally, elective courses (e.g., Mind-Body Medicine, Spirituality and Medicine, Explorations in Professional/Personal Well-Being, Well-Being Promotion and Advocacy) and voluntary co-curricular activities are available.

  • GME Wellness Resources

    The ACGME requirements for “Well-Being” are addressed across our Residency Programs. Each residency and fellowship program determines how best to integrate wellness didactics and activities based on their schedule and specialty needs. In addition, the following resources are made available to all residents and programs:

    • The Mayo Well-Being Index, which serves as a confidential screening tool for assessing burnout and well-being, can be accessed anytime. More information can be found by logging in to the WMed Portal.
    • WMed EAP services, including coaching and counseling support offered in person, by phone, or by text (for additional information, refer to the section on EAP/Emergency).
    • Annual WMed fitness/wellness stipend, which can be used toward gym memberships, yoga classes, and other fitness-related activities (contact HR for additional information).
    • Wellness Initiative offerings, including guided meditation (online & recorded), fitness classes, yoga classes,  check-in opportunities, wellness challenges, CE wellness workshops, and lunch & learns (these will be recorded throughout this year to make available at your convenience).
    • Culture initiatives, including a monthly Rewards & Recognition Program, Meaning in Medicine Project, and an upcoming Volunteer Program.
    • Additional COVID-related supports including additional online well-being check-in opportunities, on-call support, and a critical incidence response team (refer to the COVID-19 Personal Support section for additional information) 
    • Faculty/Resident-led wellness committees
    • MedMates

    Feel free to email wellness@med.wmich.edu with any additional requests or ideas you’d like to partner on to create here at WMed.

  • Inaugural Spirituality and Medicine Symposium
    Fetzer Symposium

    For more information about the Inaugural WMed-Fetzer Institute Spirituality and Medicine Symposium, including the event agenda, please click here.

  • The WMed Meaning Project

    Wellness Word CloudThese Word Clouds depict 100 responses from the WMed community regarding the questions: "What do you find most meaningful in your life?" and "What aspects of your time at WMed feel most meaningful?"

    word cloud 1



    As you reflect on these responses, we encourage you to consider these questions in your own life. The idea behind this project is that the meaning (or purpose) one finds in their workplace and in their life more generally is an important aspect of well-being—both in bolstering emotional and physical health, and in buffering against burnout. The hope of this project is to foster awareness and conversation around the topic of meaning.

    Wellness Word CloudThe impact of finding meaning in one's life has been considered in research, not only in the context of emotional health, but also physical health. Just recently, an article in JAMA,1 highlighted "life purpose" as a longitudinal predictor of health outcomes and mortality in the general population. Also, within the field of medicine, research suggests that resident burnout can be buffered by highlighting aspects of residency that tend to provide meaning (patient care, intellectual engagement, respect, and community).2 In a more general way, Jager et al. (2017) demonstrated that physicians who experience more burnout are “less likely to identify with medicine as a calling.” As they conclude, "erosion of the sense that medicine is a calling may have adverse consequences for physicians as well as those whom they care for."3

    word cloud 2



    Experiencing a sense of meaning in one's life is relevant for all of us, regardless of our professional roles. The importance of finding meaning was compellingly articulated by Victor Frankl in 1946 in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”— a text written out of his professional work as a psychiatrist and his experience as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. His creation of logotherapy (named after the Greek word, logos, which can be translated as “reason”), is based on three basic ideas:

    • life always has meaning even when things are hopeless
    • the will to meaning is the most important factor in motivating a person to live
    • people can find meaning through experience and action

    Interestingly, back in Frankl's day he proposed that when a person was unable to find meaning in life, they would then look to seek power (Adler’s theory) or pleasure (Freud’s theory) as a substitute, whether in healthy or unhealthy ways.5 He also noted something that seems equally if not more true today—the prevalence of what he termed an “existential vacuum,” in which boredom (or lack of meaning) becomes a key culprit in causing emotional distress. As he writes, “Man of today is less endangered and threatened by being over-demanded than by being under-demanded. What man really needs is a sound amount of tension aroused by the challenge of a meaning he has to fulfill.”6 In relation to meaning and purpose, it is also worth noting the work of Carl Rogers (founder of humanistic psychology). He proposes that in every organism there is “an underlying flow of movement toward constructive fulfillment of its inherent possibilities” (an actualizing tendency) which can be “thwarted or warped, but not destroyed.”7

    We hope these philosophies and research findings offer kindling for your own reflections on where you find meaning in your life and how you can make the most of these experiences.

    1. Alimujiang,A. et al. Association between life purpose and mortality among US adults older than 50 years. JAMA Network Open.2019;2(5):e194270.doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.4270
    2. Berg, DD et al. Fostering meaning in residency to curb the epidemic of resident burnout: Recommendations from four chief medical residents. Acad Med, 2019, July 9.
    3. Jager, A et al. Association between physician burnout and identification with medicine as a calling. Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Mar 2017), 92(3), 415-422.
    4. Frankl, V. Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Press: Boston, MA; 1946
    5. Frankl, V. The will to meaning: Foundations and applications of logotherapy. New York: New American Library; 1969
    6. Frankl, V. The Feeling of Meaninglessness: A Challenge to Psychotherapy and Philosophy. A. Batthyany (Ed). Marquette Univ Press: Milwaukee, WI; 2010, p. 57.
    7. Rogers, C. A Way of Being. Houghton Mifflin: New York; 1980, p. 117-119
  • Wellness Offerings

    Fitness, yoga, and meditation offerings are available to WMed employees and students. Contracted classes through West Hills and Down Dog Yoga require a participant fee of $3 for residents/fellows and $5 for faculty/staff. Classes are offered at no cost to students as participant fees come from the student wellness allowance. For your convenience, no pre-registration is necessary. Instead, reimbursable participant fees can be pre-paid either for a single event or in bundles ($5 x 3, 6, 9, or 12 for faculty/staff; $3 X 4 for residents/fellows) 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 or evening event you attend. When purchasing bundles, employees will be asked if they would like reimbursement from eligible fitness/wellness stipend funds. These reimbursements will be issued quarterly—no additional receipts need to be submitted. 

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

    Please note that WMed Residents/Fellows (only) can also use $3 reimbursable pre-paid participant fees for any regularly scheduled yoga class at Down Dog Yoga by showing their WMed ID. 

    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

    Faculty/Staff: $5

    Residents/Fellows: $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).

    Faculty/Staff: $5

    Residents/Fellows: $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 emily@theleaningtreemassage.com. Currently available at the W.E. Upjohn M.D. and Oakland Drive campuses as listed in the Wellness Calendar. $1 per minute
  • Wellness Workshops

    Opportunities to learn more about a variety of wellness topics are available to all members of the WMed community through Wellness Workshops.

    The list below of upcoming offerings and the Wellness calendar will continue to be updated. E-mail wellness@med.wmich.edu for additional information or to register. CE Credit is available for each session.

    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 January 13, 2021, 3:00-5:00 p.m.
    Location Via Microsoft Teams
    Presenter Daudert and Horneffer-Ginter


    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 April 14, 2021, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
    Location W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus, Room 212
    Presenters 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 May 26, 2021, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
    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 TBD Fall of 2021
    Presenters Horneffer-Ginter, Schauer and Curtis
  • 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. MEDU credit is available for students. We hope you will bring your lunch and join us for these informative presentations.

    Previous topics have included:

    • Your WMed Benefits: Resources You Don't Want to Overlook (Brooke Kolodzieczyk, WMed Human Resources)
    • Mindfulness: The What, Why, and How of Starting a Practice Today (Schauer & Horneffer-Ginter)
    • Innovative Approaches to Workplace Wellness - or How a Hospital Came to Open a Grocery Store (Rob Oakleaf and Grant Fletcher, Bronson Methodist Hospital)
    • Food as Medicine: The Vision of the KVCC Community Culinary & Nutrition Program (Lizzie Luchsinger)
    • What in the World is Ayurveda? An Introduction to Yoga's Sister Tradition of Lifestyle and Nutritional Well-Being (Kara Aubin)
    • The Art of Healing: A Visual Journey into the Transformative Power of Visual Art Across Patient Populations (Gay Walker)
    • Empower: Why We Need Heroes Who Look Like Us (Aubrey Jewel Rodgers)
    • Time Management Perspectives in the Health Care Encounter (Nancy Radcliff)

    The list below of upcoming offerings will continue to be updated here and on the Wellness calendar.

    Topic Date/Time Location Presenter
    Musical Artist Series: Presented in Collaboration with The Gilmore Wednesday, December 9, 2020, Noon-1:00 p.m. Via Microsoft Teams

    Come learn more about the AAMC New “FRAHME” Initiative (The Fundamental Role of the Arts and Humanities in Medical Education) and be treated to some beautiful live music featuring Ronnie Cung. 

    Get Moving: Exercise Encouragements for Ourselves and Our Patients Wednesday, January 13, 2021, Noon-1:00 p.m. Via Microsoft Teams Robert Baker, MD, PhD
    Psychological Safety: The Key to Creating a Health Learning/Working Environment at Our Medical School Friday, January 15, 2021, Noon-1:00 p.m. Via Microsoft Teams Timothy Clark, PhD (Event sponsored by the Office of Faculty Affairs)
    Healthy Eating Tips for Ourselves and Our Patients: Takeaways from Functional Medicine Thursday, January 21, 2021, Noon-1:00 p.m. Via Microsoft Teams Ramona Wallace, DO, and Family Medicine-Battle Creek Resident Team
    Healing Art from Syrian Refugee Campus in Jordan: A Glimpse into a Frontline Intervention with Providers and Refugees Wednesday, February 17, 2021, Noon-1:00 p.m. Via Microsoft Teams Tom Holmes, PhD
    How to Get a Good Sleep: Sleep Hygiene for Ourselves and Our Patients Wednesday, February 24, 2021, Noon-1:00 p.m. Via Microsoft Teams Alice Doe, MD
    Sports Performance, Medicine, and Resilience: What Athletes Can Teach Us Wednesday, March 10, 2021, Noon-1:00 p.m. Via Microsoft Teams Zeljka Vidic, PhD; Donovan Roy, EdD; Karen Horneffer-Ginter, PhD
  • Wellness Challenges
    Be on the lookout for upcoming Wellness Challenges, including the return of WMed Wellness Bingo.
  • EAP/Emergency

    Employee Assistance Program (Lincoln Financial)

    The medical school Employee Assistance Program (EAP), EmployeeConnect, is a confidential and voluntary support service that is fully accessible to 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.

    EmployeeConnect is completely confidential within the limits of the law. No one at the medical school will know that you have used the program unless you choose to share that information. There is no cost to use EmployeeConnect.

    The medical school contracts with Lincoln Financial for EmployeeConnect, which 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.

    EmployeeConnect is a confidential service that is available by telephone or website 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employees or students may access EmployeeConnect services by calling 1.855.327.4463 or online by logging on to GuidanceResources.com. Login credentials are Username: LFGSupport and Password: LFGSupport1. This website also provides resources to find a therapist or psychiatrist who is available through these benefits.

    EmployeeConnect can provide in-the-moment support over the phone. For counseling services, an intake is conducted by phone and a search is conducted to identify a local counselor participating in the EmployeeConnect, which can take about two days. Typically, five visits are offered at no cost. Additional services are charged to the student’s or employee’s health insurance. 

    Emergency Mental Health Services 

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

  • Burnout Prevention

    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/Nature
    • Nutrition/Functional Medicine
    • Sleep Hygiene 
    • Stress-Management and Burnout Prevention
    • Character Strengths
    • Resilience
    • Internal Dynamics
    • Wellness Assessment
    • Mindfulness
    • Spirituality & Meaning/Purpose
    • Medical Humanism
    • Multiculturalism and Health Equity
    • Complexity Theory & 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. Three trainings occurred in 2019-2020. Stay tuned for announcements regarding future opportunities.

  • Interest Groups

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