Message from the Dean: To our newest students and residents, cherish this journey

Dr. Hal B. Jenson, Founding Dean
Dr. Hal B. Jenson

As the newest groups of resident physicians and future physicians arrive in Kalamazoo this summer, Dr. Hal B. Jenson, the medical school’s founding dean, has a small – but valuable – piece of advice for them.

Enjoy the ride, cherish each moment of the new journey.

“There is a tendency to look to that next step in one’s career,” Dr. Jenson said recently. “But this is a unique time in their lives to enjoy the opportunity to learn. We are always lifelong learners but medical school and residency are unique in that the time for education is built into all of the things that you have to do.

“It’s important to learn how to cherish the journey and not be so focused on the next step, not to look ahead of where we are right now in our lives and enjoy the journey,” Dr. Jenson added.

The medical school’s newest resident physicians – a total of 72 doctors – officially began their training at WMed on July 1. Among them were four graduates from the medical school’s MD Class of 2019, as well as six physicians who will be a part of the medical school’s new Family Medicine residency program in Battle Creek.

Later this month, on July 29, WMed will welcome the 84 students who will make up the MD Class of 2023. The cohort is the sixth class of medical students to be admitted to the medical school.

“It’s a great time for our medical school,” Dr. Jenson said. “We get to welcome more than 150 new faces to our WMed family, They bring with them new perspectives and new enthusiasm.”

As excitement abounds with the arrival of new residents and the Class of 2023, Dr. Jenson said he is also mindful of the pressures that both groups can feel with the beginning of what can often be a daunting journey. Given that reality, he said it is imperative that residents and students focus on smart time management and take advantage of the resources available at WMed to help them avoid the pitfalls of burnout.

As a way to promote the wellness of residents and students, as well as faculty and staff, the medical school launched the WMed Wellness Initiative earlier this year in partnership with the Fetzer Institute. The initiative is led by Karen Horneffer-Ginter, PhD, assistant dean for Wellness, and seeks to provide members of the WMed community with the resources they need to support a healthy work-life balance. 

Through the Wellness Initiative, the medical school offers fitness training, including group fitness classes and yoga, as well as meditation. Among other resources, there is a Spirituality and Health Book Club, lunch and learn sessions and well-being ambassador trainings.

“Our newest students are just getting started later this month. Our new residents are learning how to balance continuing their education and now directly providing patient care so the demands on their time become much more complicated,” Dr. Jenson said. “They have to learn how to manage that time and also enjoy that time. It’s not going to get easier and the pressures aren’t going to diminish. We each have to learn how to become more effective in managing our time, at work and at home, so we do not experience burnout.”