Dr. Bradford's Message to the Michigan Medicine Community

February 2019 — Why Sustainability Matters

We are celebrating 150 years of the opening of the first University of Michigan hospital — marking the first time an American university had run such a facility, adding patient care to its missions of medical education and research. This joining of missions became the foundation upon which one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, known today as Michigan Medicine, has risen.

What is remarkable about a century-and-a-half of excellence in education, research and patient care is that those who came before us had the foresight to envision a medical school and hospital joining together, and growing and adapting, to ensure that what we excelled at 150 years ago, we do so now, and will into the future.

Sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability is crucial to all areas of our tripartite mission, and our efforts to achieve this will benefit greatly the learners, investigators and caregivers of the next 150 years.

The sustainability of our health system is now taking shape on the southwest corner of the medical campus, where construction has begun on a new clinical inpatient hospital. This an example of sustainable expansion that will benefit patients and families upon completion, and for decades. It also will be a facility that helps us to train our learners, and also a place where the discoveries of the future will jump from bench to bedside. 

Another example of our commitment to sustainability is our recent medical student curriculum transformation. Since our medical school opened its doors in 1850, we have exceled at educating and training the doctors of the future. Society demands a different kind of doctor in 2020, however, and we have responded with a curriculum that is making them leaders and change agents for the future of health care.

In the research arena, U-M is the leading public institution for research expenditures, with the medical school leading the way with more than $600 million in awards to support research in FY19. We also have more than 1,800 clinical trials underway that will lead to discoveries for the benefit of the patients and families we serve.

These achievements are not happenstance. For years, leadership has made courageous decisions, including with our finances and available resources, while analyzing a health care landscape that is constantly changing. Much is unknown about the next 150 years, but our commitment to sustainability means that Michigan Medicine will continue to impact communities in Southeast Michigan, our nation and the world with education, research and patient care programs that are designed to stand the test of time.

With a new state-of-the-art hospital on the way in 2024, a strong program for educating the doctors and scientists of the future, and a research enterprise that is pushing the leading edge of scientific inquiry, Michigan Medicine is well-sustained for future success.

In 2169, when our successors celebrate 300 years of academic medicine at Michigan, they can thank you, and all you do every day to advance sustainability throughout our tripartite mission, for making that milestone possible.

December 2019 — Why 2019 Mattered

The holiday season is a great time to reflect on past accomplishments, and also build optimism for the new year. We enjoyed another tremendous year at Michigan Medicine in 2019, with a bevy of achievements throughout the tripartite mission. All of them galvanize our status as a leader in academic medicine, while positioning us for future success.

In education, we continued to evaluate our medical education program in preparation for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) site visit in April. A rigorous reaccreditation self-study has allowed us to take a long look at how we prepare our learners to be leaders and change agents in medicine. While we have improvements to make, external reviewers brought to campus in September to conduct a mock site visit commented on our great program and community of faculty, staff, and learners.

Our research community is expanding the depth and breadth of scientific inquiry, in record-setting fashion. The University of Michigan retained the top spot in research expenditures among public universities with a record $1.62 billion in fiscal year 2019. Of that, $552 million came from sponsored research expenditures to the Medical School. In all, our investigators successfully competed for $646 million in total research awards, were leading more than 1,800 active clinical trials, and made 226 invention reports.

Research groups and support teams are prime tenants of the North Campus Research Complex, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019. Over the course of the past decade, we have transformed the vacant pharmaceutical campus into a home where more than 3,300 faculty, staff, and learners are fulfilling leadership’s vision of fostering new types of cross-disciplinary research and new entities organized around a research goal instead of an academic department.

A significant expansion of the clinical enterprise begins this month when construction commences on our new adult hospital. This monumental investment in patient care will increase access and transform medical and surgical care for our patients and families. The 12-story, 690,000-square-foot facility, to be built adjacent to the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, will provide more access to care for adult patients at Michigan Medicine, where current facilities often operate at more than 90-percent capacity.

We joined forces with the University of Michigan community to combat sexual harassment and misconduct with mandatory training for all faculty and staff. We also solidified our commitment to wellness by opening the Michigan Medicine Wellness Office and appointing Kirk J. Brower, M.D., as chief wellness officer and faculty director of the office, which has a mission to improve the health and well-being of faculty, staff and learners. In these important areas, Michigan Medicine has strengthened its commitment to improving our workplaces and learning environments.

Finally, many faculty received prestigious, and well-deserved, honors: Senior Associate Dean for Education and Global Initiatives Joseph C. Kolars, M.D., received the 2019 Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC); Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., James Dalton, Ph.D., and Gabriel Nuñez, M.D., were elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the nation’s highest honors for health researchers; Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., received the AAMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Award as an individual who demonstrates a significant impact on the advancement of women's roles in academic medicine and science; and John Z. Ayanian, M.D., MPP, and Anna Suk-Fong Lok, M.D., became Distinguished University Professors.

There are many more presents we could unwrap from 2019, but the significance of the gifts we have given to the communities we serve is inunmerable.

Thank you for making 2019 a fantastic year, and for your tireless efforts to ensure that Michigan Medicine is well-positioned to excel again in 2020. Please enjoy time with your families and friends, rest up and reflect on all that we accomplished as a community, and come back recharged and prepared for what we will take on together next year.

November 2019 — Why Speaking Up Matters

We have all been there.

At the conclusion of a meeting, a lecture, a team huddle, or an informal gathering at the office water cooler, the leader makes a plea for questions or final comments. Whether the attendees want to get back to their daily tasks, don’t have anything to add, or simply are satisfied with the interaction and information shared, no one says anything.

You can, of course, chalk this up to a productive session in which all questions were answered and concerns addressed. However, there are times when we just know there is more to be said and heard.

As they say, the silence can be deafening.

Now, more than ever, we encourage members of the Michigan Medicine community to speak up and be heard, whether it be to leadership, or within their respective units. This is a critical time for our future, and the more ideas we hear, and different perspectives we consider, the greater the chances we will achieve excellence together. 

I challenge you to be bold, find your voice and use it for the betterment of our organization. We all are experts in something, and Michigan Medicine is stronger when you share your knowledge, ideas and perspectives. There are many avenues to share — town halls, meetings, huddles, and informal gatherings — and our community will benefit.

In a large organization such ours, there are times when you might feel your voice is not heard. Keep trying, as together we are changing the culture here to one in which, not only is your voice heard, it is speaking for the future of Michigan Medicine.

Thank you for your voice and contributions.

As we near the holidays, I find myself reflecting with gratitude for you, our exceptional faculty, staff, and learners, who make Michigan Medicine such a special place to work and learn. Together, we have the tremendous opportunity to serve our community, near and far. For this, I am deeply grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all for what you do every day!

October 2019 — Why Service Matters

Ann Arbor (pop. 121,000) is a destination for world-class patient care, leading-edge scientific inquiry, and education that is preparing the leaders and change agents for the future of health care. But, what makes Michigan Medicine truly magical is the amazing breadth and depth of our activities that extend from the corners of Main Street to the four corners of the earth.

The fifth pillar of our new Medical School strategic plan is the one with the farthest reach: Service — how we engage with our institutional, local, state, national, and global communities to advance health and science. Our faculty, staff, and learners are everywhere, lending their time, talent and expertise to serve our communities near and far in order to improve health for all. The Block M is an internationally recognized symbol, and you hear “Go Blue,” anywhere and in any language.

Service is in our DNA, and we have developed four strategies to better initiate, track and expand our efforts:

  • All Michigan Medicine faculty, staff, and learners will engage in a culture that defines, understands, measures, values, and documents service.
  • Service metrics and evidence-based practices will be developed to demonstrate the impact of service and the value to Michigan Medicine and the communities it serves.
  • Synergistic service partnerships will exist with other U-M schools and centers that will leverage our collective skills and expertise to maximize the advancement of health and science, resulting in enhanced funding resources and a holistic approach to community needs.
  • Faculty and learners will clearly communicate new discoveries, practices and technologies to the public and to policy makers, increasing their knowledge and engagement in science.

As the plan states: “From global mission trips, to active engagement in national organizations and national health initiatives, to committee leadership and community service right here at Michigan Medicine, UMMS encourages and celebrates these efforts, which broaden our collective impact.”

A few examples of our tremendous commitment to service:

  • Many medical students and faculty operate the Student-Run Free Clinic in Pinckney, Michigan, a facility dedicated to providing quality health care, free of charge to uninsured community members in Livingston County, while creating opportunities for students and physicians to confront health disparities through direct action.
  • Next month, as part of the Dean’s Awards Program, Associate Professor of Pathology Lee F. Schroeder, M.D., Ph.D., will receive the Global Community Service Award, which recognizes Medical School faculty who contribute to the local, national or global community in an extraordinary fashion. In addition to his duties as a clinical pathologist, Dr. Schroeder has developed an international reputation for landscaping and improving diagnostic testing in low- and middle-income countries. His solutions stand to substantially expand access to appropriate testing for some of the world’s poorest populations.
  • This week, Professor of Emergency Medicine Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., and Professor of Pathology Gabriel Nunez, M.D., were elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (NAM) (along with College of Pharmacy Dean James T. Dalton, Ph.D.). The Medical School now boasts nearly 50 active and emeritus faculty in NAM. They join colleagues from around the country in providing unbiased, evidence-based, and authoritative information and advice concerning health and science policy to policymakers, professionals, leaders in every sector of society, and the public at large.

These activities form but a small picture of the service for which Michigan Medicine is world-renowned. Few organizations are better at answering the call to serve.

Here, there, and everywhere.

September 2019 — Why Care Matters

The care pillar of the new Medical School strategic plan focuses on providing hope and healing to those who visit our facilities in Ann Arbor, and around the State of Michigan. Equally important to the care we provide as a leading national health care system is the care we administer to those who comprise the Michigan Medicine community.

Operating a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week health care enterprise can put stress on our faculty, staff, and learners. The complexities of the current health care landscape compromise the well-being of our workforce and learning environment. However, there are things we can do to foster an environment where individuals are empowered to solve problems, bring out the best in each other, and can thrive.

To help colleagues who are struggling, we can show care and concern by offering a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen, understanding the power of a friendly word, speaking up for those who have no voice, and cultivating resources to help all of us navigate the small speedbumps and large crises that can overwhelm our daily lives.

Michigan Medicine recently opened a Wellness Office to endorse the health and well-being of our faculty, staff, and learners as a core value and cultural norm of Michigan Medicine. The office will work to improve the overall workplace environment and experience of our faculty, staff, and learners; support each of us in pursuing our own health and well-being; and reduce the stigma and improve access to mental health care.

Informally, I have seen many leaders and colleagues make themselves more available to their teams through expanded office hours, Gemba walks, and other mechanisms to gather feedback and see and listen to what is happening in the hallways of our academic medical center. This outreach helps us to identify concerns and respond positively by giving our team members the care they need.

Caring for each other not only will make Michigan Medicine a stronger community; it also will strengthen our ability to deliver outstanding care to others.

July 2019 — Why Discovery Matters

The University of Michigan is the top public university in research spending in the United States, at $1.55 billion.

Within Michigan Medicine, our talented and hardworking investigators successfully competed for $588 million in sponsored awards for research in FY18. We also administered $508 million in sponsored expenditures to support research during the fiscal year.

The U-M ranks No. 16 among research medical schools in the 2020 U.S. News and World Report Best Graduate School rankings, and we were the No. 10-ranked medical school in National Institutes of Health funding in FY18.

These numbers do not happen by chance. They are the result of hard work from our teams and successful planning aimed at solidifying our massive research enterprise.

The future of research at Michigan Medicine is laid out in the Medical School’s new strategic plan, which aims to increase our faculty’s competitiveness and their ability to pursue major scientific questions in a rich and diverse environment that leads to discoveries that inspire new preventions, treatments, and cures.

The Discovery pillar of the plan provides a major support beam for the bridge that will carry our breakthroughs from the bench to the bedside. The blueprint of this pillar is predicated on five strategies directed at increasing the societal impact of our research and the intellectual vibrancy and rigor of our scientists:

  1. The University of Michigan Medical School will be the destination for world-class research faculty, staff, and learners with active development across all stages of their careers.
  2. Our integrated research ecosystem will foster collaborations across disciplines, the University, and external partners, stakeholders, and communities.
  3. Our pioneering research will enable innovative, high-risk, and transformative biomedical discoveries.
  4. The clinical research enterprise will be best in class, executing investigations of the highest quality and impact that improve clinical care, value, access, and outcomes.
  5. Our vibrant research environment will facilitate scientific excellence through cutting-edge infrastructure and expert services.

A description of tactics established to fulfill these strategies can be found here.

In FY18, Michigan Medicine investigators submitted 235 invention reports and secured 112 license agreements with business and industry. We currently have more than 1,800 clinical trials under way. Clearly, investment in discovery is yielding powerful results.

Discovery happens in all corners of Michigan Medicine, from our laboratories, where investigators pursue promising lines of scientific inquiry; to our educational arena, where we are preparing the physicians and scientists of the future; to our clinical spaces, where patients and families benefit from advances in care.

As we execute this discovery plan over the next five years, we are confident the results will continue to advance science and improve health for all.

May 2019 — Why Education Matters

As the oldest school at the University of Michigan, our medical school has a rich and storied tradition of educating generations of Michigan physicians and scientists.

Education is at the core of what we do. As we pass along knowledge, and fuse it with the latest technology and best practices, we impact more than just the singular learner. The affect we have on tens and thousands of UMMS alumni will, in turn, impact hundreds of thousands of patients, as well as the biomedical research and discovery landscape, downstream.

We constantly adapt our programs to help learners traverse the modern science and health care landscape and, to that end, continue to put our education platform under an intense microscope. We were a leader nationally in imagining and implementing a new medical student curriculum that is preparing our students to be leaders and change agents in health care. Similarly, we aspire to transform graduate medical education to enhance the value of care and are finalists in the Reimagining Residency Initiative from the American Medical Association.

Recently, we launched the RISE Initiative (Research. Innovation. Scholarship. Education.) to “think big” about how to foster innovation in medical and graduate education. There is still time to share your thoughts about innovation within our community via a culture survey. Finally, we are in the midst of a two-year self-study in preparation for a 2020 site visit from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education as we seek a new eight-year accreditation of our M.D. degree. Preparation includes creating awareness throughout our community about important information, including our Medical Student Competencies and Objectives and our Learning Environment Statement.

Learning at Michigan extends far beyond our medical and graduate student populations. The Education pillar of our new Medical School strategic plan promotes learning throughout the academic medical center. At Michigan Medicine, all faculty, staff, trainees, and students form a learning community that is engaged in bold and innovative education for the advancement of science, health and health care delivery. Over the next five years, we will execute strategies and tactics to implement this new plan and, in doing so, will catalyze a community where everyone is committed to bringing out the best in themselves and each other, and whose members practice and promote excellence, humility, and kindness.

Five strategies drive the execution of the Education pillar:

  • All learners will be committed to self-improvement.
  • All learners will be co-developed as teachers, coaches, and colleagues for the teams with which they work.
  • All learners will be leaders who are driven to excellence in maximizing the benefit of Michigan Medicine to the people we serve.
  • Evidence-based education programs that are innovative and transformational will be continuously renewed.
  • The learning community will be linked together and enabled by a robust infrastructure and learning platform that facilitates the creation and implementation of new knowledge.

These are supported by tactics which bring the strategic plan to life and strengthen the learning mission of our organization.

For nearly 170 years, we have led monumental change in education. In following our new strategic plan, we will stay ahead of the curve and galvanize our reputation as a world leader in education at all levels.

March 2019 — Why People Matter 

Of the five pillars that comprise the foundation of the Medical School’s new strategic plan, three mirror our tripartite mission — education, discovery and care — while a fourth, service, reinforces our desire to engage and collaborate both locally and globally.

The fifth pillar is the one that rises above them all and makes the other pillars possible: people. Without a strong foundation of remarkable faculty, staff and learners, we could not support the other four pillars and our organization would not be as strong.

The people pillar affirms our goal to recruit, develop, and retain the best faculty, staff, and learners who work together for the greater good. Key to the success of this pillar is building a supportive and inclusive culture where all people feel valued and can thrive.

Michigan Medicine is a tremendous place to work, to learn, to provide care, and to pursue scholarship and discovery. As someone who has spent her entire educational and professional career here, I am continually amazed by the resources and opportunities that exist here, particularly those cultivated by the spirit of collaboration and teamwork. For many, we are a destination.

In addition to giving people reasons to join our academic medical center, we must give them reasons to stay, grow and be fulfilled. This is why development is so crucial. Most people want to improve and take on greater roles within the organization. We must be strong mentors and sponsors who provide them with the resources and opportunities needed to excel.

Retention is another important factor in building a strong organization. As people improve and increase their value to our organization, they also become attractive to other employers, schools, and health systems. We must give them reasons to stay and assure them Michigan Medicine is the best place to achieve long-term success.

Not al stay. Many people go forth and represent Michigan Medicine at other institutions and health care organizations. We can feel justifiably proud as they carry the Michigan flag with them and show how their experiences here have prepared them to transform health.

Not only is it imperative that Michigan Medicine has a strong workforce and body of learners to be successful, there are benefits for them, as well. Working, studying and living within our community exposes them to diverse viewpoints and will provide them opportunities to learn about other cultures and how those around them work and learn.

With the right individuals in place throughout Michigan Medicine, both the organization and our people succeed together. When all are focused on our tripartite mission, the people we serve — patients, families and our communities — benefit the most.

January 2019 — Why Our Learning Community Matters 

With the input of a multidisciplinary team of faculty, staff and learners, we have developed a Medical School strategic plan founded on five strategic pillars required for long-term growth and vitality: People, Discovery, Education, Care and Service.

We will pursue these pillars within a vibrant and inclusive learning community that encompasses all of Michigan Medicine — our clinics, operating rooms, research laboratories, offices and educational facilities. Throughout our sprawling academic medical center, and in facilities throughout the state, there are opportunities for all of us to learn every day.

But, a healthy learning community is far more than just facilities. It is a place where all people feel valued and can thrive.  We must ensure that all of us can thrive without fear of facing harassment, mistreatment or other threatening behaviors. These can come from colleagues, supervisors and patients.

According to results of surveys from various pockets of our learning community, we are falling short of this goal. Some respondents indicate feeling threatened, harassed or otherwise mistreated in the workplace environment. Michigan Medicine leadership is reviewing and reflecting on these results. We value everyone’s input and suggestions around how we can tackle this issue.

One thing to remember is that simple comments or jokes, delivered with no intent to harm, can be hurtful to the recipient, or others nearby. We also can and should give people permission to inform us if anything we say or do makes others feel uncomfortable. Then, the response should simply be, “Thank you.”

The Josiah Macy Foundation recently hosted a conference on Improving Environments for Learning in the Health Professions. Participants reached consensus on a vision statement for exemplary learning environments: “Exemplary learning environments prepare, support, and inspire all involved in health professions education and health care to work toward optimal health of individuals, populations, and communities.”

Collectively, we impact thousands of lives. We must remember that how we build and nurture our community affects all those that we serve.

December 2018 — Why Joy Matters

‘Tis the season of joy.

You hear it on the radio, see it in the shopping mall, and experience it with family and friends.

Joy also is abundant in the halls of Michigan Medicine. Our faculty, staff and learners experience great joy in serving a tripartite mission that is educating the doctors and scientists of the future; supporting lines of scientific inquiry that one day will yield world-changing discoveries; and healing tens of thousands of patients every year.

We advance health to serve Michigan and the world, and forever are connected to the patients, families, faculty, staff, learners and communities we serve. We truly do have the calling, privilege and opportunity to transform lives. This connection is a powerful one that can bring us personal joy and feelings of great meaning and purpose. For many, this is why we get out of bed early in the morning, or stay late into the night. To help others.

We understand that the holidays are not joyful for everyone, and that meaning and purpose can be elusive to some. But we can commit to helping those around us in pursuit of wellness and finding their own happiness, not only at the holidays, but also throughout the year.

As we reflect this holiday season, take time to consider the meaning of your work and the positive impact it has on those around you.  We deeply appreciate your efforts in pursuit of the Michigan Medicine mission. You are impacting more lives than you will ever know.

I wish you joy this holiday season, and hope you find peace and meaning in all you do.

November 2018 — Why Recognition Matters

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the Dean’s Awards Dinner, where Michigan Medicine leadership honored 24 exceptional faculty and staff for achievement in the areas of education, research and clinical care, as well as community service, innovation and commercialization, and administration.

As each recipient came to the podium, I was touched by their heartfelt remarks to family, colleagues, learners, friends and patients they have encountered through the years. Clearly, the awards mean a great deal to them. 

The annual Dean’s Awards ceremony is a highlight in our academic year, and also a reminder of how recognition is an important part of the Michigan Medicine culture.

While we presented the awards on Nov. 15, the process goes back several months. Each honoree was nominated by a colleague who wrote a compelling nomination letter. Additional colleagues signed on to letters of support to build packets that consumed reams of paper. Those involved in the nomination process are extremely busy with their daily commitments, but each took time to shine the often-elusive spotlight on those who are doing the very best in service to our learners, patients, families and the community.

For one night each year, we enjoy fruits of their labor. Seeing the smiles, laughing at the stories, meeting the families, and even sharing tears makes for a wonderful night for all.

The Dean’s Awards is only one way we recognize excellence. Michigan Medicine also pauses annually to honor our employees for their years of service. We recently hosted the annual Service Awards Dinner, honoring more than 250 employees who have served the organization for 30, 40, 45 or 50 years.

It is incredible that we have so many outstanding employees who have devoted three, four and even five decades of their lives to Michigan Medicine. They are the backbone of our organization and a reason we are a global powerhouse in education, research and patient care. We salute them.

As we roll out our Civility and Wellness Initiative, we are committed to developing and implementing an enterprise-wide holistic recognition program for faculty, staff and learners to help improve workplace satisfaction and promote greater workforce engagement. We currently are in the final phase of selecting a faculty leader for the wellness office, one who will make recognition among its top priorities. 

For those that recognize the importance of recognition, thank you for tipping your cap, raising a glass, giving a shout-out, and patting a back.

Your recognition efforts mean a lot.

During this holiday week, I wish you and your families the best. As we enter these seasons of celebration, I am thankful for all you do for Michigan Medicine and the patients, families, and communities we serve.

October 2018 — Why Respect Matters

They say that respect is earned.

At Michigan Medicine, we can make it a given by nurturing mutual respect among our faculty, staff, learners and patients.

In addition to making Michigan Medicine a better place to work, learn and receive care, embodying a mutual respect for colleagues, patients, and visitors can drastically reduce instances of harassment in our learning and work spaces. This includes physical, verbal and sexual harassment that hinder our organization’s ability to achieve excellence.

We should all feel safe and free to go about our daily activities without fear of being harassed by a superior, colleague, patient, or stranger. We must respect each other’s rights to be here and to work and learn as equals. Only through mutual respect can we reduce, or even eliminate, workplace harassment.

Training and education generate awareness of what harassment is, how to spot it, and how to prevent it. The University of Michigan is implementing a series of recommendations from the Working Group on Sexual Misconduct that include mandatory training for all faculty and staff. By educating our community — and providing real-world examples that all of us could encounter — we empower individuals to watch for, and act upon, suspected instances of harassment.

Couple that knowledge with a layer of mutual respect for everyone, and Michigan Medicine will be in lockstep with the University in fostering an environment where all members of our campus community are safe and feel respected.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Let’s show what it means to us.


September 2018 — Why Kindness Matters

Each of us brings something unique to Michigan Medicine.

Some of us provide high-quality, patient-centric care. Others are in the lab, seeking tomorrow’s breakthroughs. Some of us nurture the next generation of Michigan clinicians and scientists. Others are supporting the operations of our bustling academic medical center.

No matter our roles, there is one thing we all can bring to campus every day — kindness.

Our health care teams face difficult decisions on every shift. Our researchers encounter stumbling blocks while pursuing promising lines of scientific inquiry. Our educators must decide how much to teach and the best way to adapt to different learning styles. Our staff is tasked with doing more every day while navigating a complex health care system.

Every individual in these groups could use a smile or a word of encouragement every day. A simple act of kindness not only will help them; it also can trickle down to others around them. So, your kindness will benefit more people than you know.

I see acts of kindness every day — a pat on the back for a care team that just completed a long and difficult surgery; an offer from a colleague to look over data or read the draft of journal article to help a researcher make progress; a student telling an instructor they explained a difficult concept well; and a supervisor praising staff for a job well done.

For some, this may feel like their duty. But, recipients always appreciate the gesture.

We achieve tremendous things together at Michigan Medicine, and there is something we all can do to make each day even better.

Let’s be kind – today and every day.

August 2018 — Why Teamwork Matters

Fall is a special time in Ann Arbor.

A team with a storied history and commitment to excellence proudly represents the University of University of Michigan on the national stage. New rankings spotlight its sterling reputation and place it among peers nationally as one of the best outfits in the land. And, many of its members also are devoted fans of the University’s football team. 

Yes, Michigan Medicine and Michigan football share a lot of similarities as the summer draws to a close.

The Wolverines are a contender for the Big Ten Conference championship and spot in the national football playoff. They are ranked high in many preseason polls. Last week, Michigan Medicine fared extremely well in the annual U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) Best Hospital rankings, checking in as the No. 5 adult hospital nationally (and tops in the state of Michigan), and ranking in the top 10 in 10 specialties, including top-rated otolaryngology. Two months ago, USNWR ranked C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital No. 1 in Michigan and the only hospital in the state ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties.

Alumni of both the University and our academic medical center are justifiably proud, but the foundation for this success was laid long ago with a shared belief in the power of teamwork.

Legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler coined the well-known phrase, “The Team, The Team, The Team,” reinforcing that no individual player is above the team. Every Michigan team since has championed its importance. No player can score a touchdown by himself; a teammate has to throw the ball, make the block, and execute his assignment.

Teamwork also is a hallmark of Michigan Medicine — physicians, nurses, researchers, teachers, learners and staff all working together in multidisciplinary teams in pursuit of excellence in education, research and patient care. Educators collaborate with learners to pass along their knowledge to future clinicians and scientists; researchers carefully construct labs of teammates who together produce the next breakthroughs; and surgeons work side-by-side with schedulers, nurses, trainees, staff and fellow physicians to complete a successful operation.

This steadfast dedication to teamwork has allowed Michigan Medicine to make a tremendous difference in the lives of patients, families, learners and the communities we serve. That is what makes our team — just like the squad that begins its season next week at Notre Dame — special. Our victories impact millions.

Thank you for being good teammates and for pulling together for a greater good — no matter how you represent the University of Michigan.

After all, it is about “The Team, The Team, The Team.”

June 2018 — Why Advancement Matters

The people pillar of the Medical School strategic plan states that we will recruit, develop, and retain the best and brightest faculty, learners and staff.  There are many ways we develop outstanding people throughout Michigan Medicine. 

The Board of Regents recently approved the promotion of numerous Medical School faculty members — to associate professor and full professor, as well as from non-tenured to tenured status. Promotion requires scholarship, a critical part of the transformation of health and health care. I congratulate these faculty members on achieving an important milestone in their careers. They have excelled as strong representatives of Michigan Medicine and, in turn, have strengthened our commitment to excellence in education, research and patient care. 

This time of year yields other personal achievements. The performance evaluation season is upon us, and while it sparks different emotions for different people, it as an opportunity to celebrate our successes and advance our development. It helps our community members forge individual and team goals for the new fiscal year, and align their activities with our missions.

Faculty promotions and annual evaluations are formal mechanisms through which we develop the Michigan Medicine workforce and realize our aspirational vision and goals. Our faculty, staff and learners also are taking initiative to improve every day — stretching, learning and striving to be the very best:

The University of Michigan recently hosted the fourth annual Leadership Summit for Women in Academic Medicine and Healthcare, designed to accelerate the development of women leaders through skill-based learning, connection with other women in academic medicine and health care, and insight from leaders on how to successfully lead in today’s complex academic medicine and health care environment.

Among the sponsors: our departments of Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and, Radiology, as well as the Rogel Cancer Center, University Hospital and Frankel Cardiovascular Center, and Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research.

It is gratifying to see the Michigan Medicine community come together to provide an excellent learning opportunity that will help many of the 400-plus attendees grow as leaders in health care. It dovetails perfectly with our transformed curriculum that is preparing our medical students to be change agents and leaders in health care.

At Michigan Medicine, we nurture a culture of improvement that empowers our faculty, staff and learners to advance, both personally and professionally.

After all, when one succeeds, we all succeed.

May 2018 — Why Commencement Matters

An ancient Chinese proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

When members of the Medical School Class of 2018 cross the stage at Hill Auditorium on May 11 to receive their diplomas, they will take the next step in a journey that started, for most of them, four years ago. Others started earlier and found other paths. All of those paths will converge this week at our Medical School Commencement.

Our commencement is the university’s final celebration of graduates. Similar ceremonies in the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies (April 27) for our graduate students, School of Nursing (April 28) and throughout the U-M’s other health profession colleges (Pharmacy and U-M Dearborn’s Education, Health & Human Services) and schools (Dentistry, Kinesiology, Public Health, Social Work and Health Professions and Studies at U-M-Flint) refresh the learning cycle and send many graduates to Michigan Medicine to become part of interprofessional health care teams.

Our graduates hail from a large and diverse Michigan Medicine learning community that includes more than 700 medical students, 575 graduate students and 600 postdoctoral fellows. While many come here to pursue the traditional M.D. degree, others opt for a M.D./Ph.D. through our Medical Scientist Training Program, or other dual degree offerings: M.D./MPH, M.D./MPP, M.D./MSI, and M.D./MBA. Our Program in Biomedical Sciences provides an interdisciplinary gateway to 14 doctoral programs, and we also offer numerous master’s degrees. In addition, U-M trains more than 1,400 residents, or house officers, annually — one of the largest such groups nationally.

For these learners, they will walk confidently into a future where they will be leaders and change agents in their fields. They leave our school and training programs as better health care providers and researchers, leaders and citizens. 

For many, the journey will continue far from Ann Arbor, at esteemed institutions across the country and around the world. Many others will continue training and working in hospitals and academic centers throughout the State of Michigan. Others will have no need to change their mailing address, as they continue their path here at Michigan Medicine.

But on commencement day, it becomes a new Michigan — it becomes their alma mater. The club is large, and it is special because of the impact their former Wolverines have made globally.

Commencement also marks a change of seasons in the school. In just a few weeks, we will welcome the medical student Class of 2022. Likewise, many of our newest Ph.D. students come to campus in summer; others will follow in September as the university’s academic clock resets. In the coming weeks, new residents will join a workforce of colleagues committed to excellence in education, research and clinical care.

This week, let’s celebrate all of our learners, and appreciate where they are on their journey.

April 2018 — Why Accountability Matters

Michigan Medicine has long subscribed to achieving excellence in education, research and patient care. We have reached tremendous heights as a world-class medical facility, well-funded research enterprise, and highly regarded educator of the next generation of health care providers and scientists. This is possible because our faculty, staff and learners make a daily commitment to accountability.

What does accountability look like? It’s complex. Being accountable means taking responsibility for our actions, no matter the circumstances. It’s a willingness to learn from one’s mistakes and see them as an opportunity for improvement. And accountability requires a daily, personal commitment, even when it’s hard.

As individuals, we are accountable to ourselves. On occasions when we fall short of our core values, we must take action and hold ourselves accountable. We also are accountable to each other. Highly effective, functional teams work through challenges and hold each member accountable in order to accomplish their aspirations. Finally, we are accountable to the many constituents of Michigan Medicine. This includes patients and families who come here seeking hope and healing, the research community that is striving for the next breakthrough that will change human health, and the global health care community that our learners will serve.

We are privileged to be part of a truly wonderful organization. Our work offers us the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the world. If we are to reach our collective aspirations, we must hold ourselves accountable to putting our best selves forward, every day. 

Our continued success depends on it.

March 2018 — Why Match madness matters

March is a time of madness, although many associate the fervor with the annual NCAA basketball tournaments.

At Michigan Medicine, we have our own March madness on Match Day, an exhilarating annual event in which graduating medical students learn where they have matched for their residency training. 

There are many similarities between the annual three-week hoops celebration and Match Day, which takes place on Friday, March 16.

Basketball enthusiasts fill out online or paper brackets to predict the next national champion. For graduating medical students, they completed their own residency bracket, traveling and interviewing extensively before selecting a list of destinations where they would like to continue medical training.

College basketball teams aspire to reach the Final Four. Medical students assemble a preferred list of their final five. Or, elite 8 or sweet 16.

Sixty-eight teams play in the NCAA tournament, and those chosen on Sunday have been sent all over the country. Medical students have applied for coveted spots at medical institutions across the country, and several apply to stay at the University of Michigan.

There is much excitement for the basketball teams to find out whom, when and where they will play. This is what makes Match Day so special, as a similar excitement permeates gatherings at U.S. medical schools, including our Match Day festivities at the North Campus Research Complex.

Medical students nationwide receive their envelopes at high noon — all of them; all at the same time. Many rip open the enclosures on the spot; others do so in private. They cheer, shriek and cry and generate a noise that rivals any fan base cheering on their hoops team in arenas from Buffalo to Detroit to Orlando to Sacramento.

A select group of students hold their envelopes close to the vest, choosing instead to open them in front of more than 500 classmates, family member and friends. The pressure and thrill are similar to a player lining up to shoot free throws with seconds left in the game, and maybe his or her season.

Our Wolverines have rounded into one of the NCAA tournament’s best teams. We similarly boast a strong group of medical students who will move on to their own version of the NBA — suiting up not in shorts and high-top sneakers, but instead sporting gleaming white coats and stethoscopes at elite medical institutions across the country.

Here are some impressive stats from our Medical School roster:

  • In 2017, nearly 99 percent of U-M students entering the national match process matched to a residency spot in the intensely competitive environment, far above the national average.
  • Of those, 22 percent matched to residency slots at Michigan Medicine, and 30 percent to hospitals in Ann Arbor, metro Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
  • Forty-five percent of our 2017 graduates entered a field that can lead to a career in primary care.

Many expect the Wolverines to make a run at the Final Four, and we expect similar success for our doctors-to-be.

Match Day tips off at noon on Friday. Go Blue!

February 2018 — Why Integrity Matters

C.S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

At Michigan Medicine, conducting groundbreaking research, nurturing and teaching the next generation of Michigan doctors and scientists, and delivering outstanding clinical care with the highest integrity is a privilege we honor every day.

To practice integrity is to hold ourselves accountable to our values and convictions. It is reflected in our decisions, in our work, and in our relationships.

How can we practice integrity in the workplace? Here are a few practical tips:

  • Build trust.
  • Be dependable.
  • Respect others.
  • Be on time.
  • Communicate honestly and openly.
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes.
  • Look for solutions rather than problems.
  • Follow institutional policies.
  • Keep your commitments.
  • Be a team player.

Every day, we strive for excellence in the execution of our tripartite mission. Integrity is at the heart of these activities, and we must demand that all members of the Michigan Medicine family strive to do the right thing.

We are tested, and may feel pressured to go against our better judgment and values. It is imperative, however, that we remain vigilant at all times. We owe that to our patients and families, our learners, our fellow faculty and staff, and the communities we serve.

Serving our constituents with integrity is an individual choice; however, remember that people ARE watching.


January 2018 — Why Valuing Education Matters

Every day, we monitor our execution of Michigan Medicine’s tripartite mission of excellence in education, research and patient care.

In research, we track researchers’ funding and outcomes of their investigations. For the clinical mission, we track the numbers of patients and families our clinicians serve, as well as the quality of care they deliver. How our faculty contributes to the educational mission, however, traditionally has been harder to track, but is essential in evaluating our core responsibility as a school.

Three years ago, the Task Force on Valuing the Medical Education of Faculty formed to propose a new system and process for defining expectations and measuring faculty contributions to the educational mission. This included developing a reasonable methodology that significantly improves on our ability to measure teaching effort, including mentoring and other activities that promote learning.

The Valuing Education Initiative has reached an exciting new phase. Starting Jan. 1, the Medical School began a six-month pilot of a new educational value unit (EVU) model. During this time, departments are tracking medical and graduate student educational activities for a cohort of their faculty members. They will capture activities involving medical students and graduate students first, but we plan to expand to other learners in the future.

The new EVU model is reflective of the current educational environment, which takes place more “in the field.” Thus, faculty will receive credit for teaching that takes place in our clinics, laboratories, etc. This is significant, given that our transformed medical student curriculum is placing our students in the clinical environment sooner.

I am grateful for the task force members who have worked hard over three years to develop the new EVU model. We look forward to capturing and evaluating data during the pilot phase and reporting the results to faculty. It also will help Medical School leadership determine how best to direct resources to the educational mission.

Our faculty are deeply committed to training the doctors and scientists of the future. We look forward to better acknowledging their efforts, while also strengthening our mission.

December 2017 — Why Resolutions Matter

The end of the calendar year is an ideal time to review resolutions — the ones you made, your progress to date, and what you are thinking about for 2018 and beyond.

The Medical School, and the larger Michigan Medicine community, is putting a bow on a tremendous year of growth and achievement. But, this did not happen by chance. Our 2017 successes were born from institution-wide resolutions and promises to do better by our patients and families, faculty and staff, and learners.

Some of our resolutions and outcomes:

  • We resolved to take a look at what we do as a medical school and why we do it. A deliberate strategic planning process yielded a new mission and set of strategic pillars that guide our education, research and clinical care.
  • We resolved to evaluate our graduate student enrollment. In order to strengthen our research productivity, we are increasing the size of our incoming Program in Biomedical Sciences classes to 90 students annually for the classes of 2018-23.
  • We resolved to look at our community’s overall well being. I am fortunate to help lead the Michigan Medicine Civility and Wellness Taskforce, a group charged with fostering an environment that promotes health, balance, and kindness. We are in the process of formalizing our recommendations and hope to share these early in the new year. 
  • Personally, I resolved to help our community get fit while learning more about the Medical School. On Jan. 16, I will host another “Walk with the EVDAA,” in which participants walk with me for exercise and also to discuss UMMS matters. If you are interested, please meet me on the fourth floor of Medical Science Building I, near the entrance to C Wing. We will walk and talk from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Overall, we did an excellent job of keeping our resolutions in 2017. Thank you for contributing to our success, and we look forward to continuing these, and other, resolutions into 2018 and beyond.

On behalf of the Medical School, best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. Be safe, enjoy family and friends, and look forward to a great 2018!

November 2017 — Why Mission Matters

The mission of the University of Michigan Medical School sets the tone for our leadership in education, research and patient care. It is the True North on our compass, and guides us in everything we do on behalf of our faculty, staff and learners.

The Medical School’s academic leadership has been involved in a rigorous strategic planning process to envision a transformed UMMS mission statement that resonates with everyone in the school, as well as the public.

I am pleased to share our updated mission — “To transform health through bold and innovative education, discovery, and service.”

The words that resonate most with me: transform, bold and innovative. We want to embrace new ideas and ways of thinking, we want to make a positive difference, and we want to impact the future of health care.

In addition to crafting our updated mission, we also constructed a set of strategic pillars for the school: people, discovery, education, care and service.

Our goal for the people pillar is to recruit, develop, and retain the best faculty, staff, and learners who work together for the greater good.

Our goal for the discovery pillar is to create transformative knowledge that advances science and improves health.

Our goal for the education pillar is to cultivate a learning community that engages all in bold and innovative education for the advancement of science, health and healthcare delivery.

Our goal for the care pillar is to deliver outstanding patient care and improve health for local, national, and global populations while caring for each other.

Our goal for the service pillar is to engage and collaborate with our institutional, local, state, national, and global communities to advance health and science.

It is crucial that everyone feels like they have a voice and are heard, so we will pursue our mission and strategic pillars in a vibrant and inclusive learning environment. We also recognize the importance of enabling resources and infrastructure that will allow us to collectively achieve our mission.

Going forward, we will engage the Medical School community to inform an implementation plan. This will include developing strategies and tactics with faculty, staff and learner workgroups.

Our new mission and strategic pillars are inspiring, and their adoption strengthens our commitment to excellence in all that we do.

October 2017 — Why Culture Matters

At Michigan Medicine, we faithfully pursue a tripartite mission of excellence in education, research and patient care. While it is important to understand what we do, it is equally important to analyze the attitudes, customs and beliefs that distinguish Michigan Medicine from others in the global health care community. 

In other words, we must pay heed to the Michigan Medicine culture and understand that what our culture is — and also what we want it to be — can differ across the organization.

Last week, Michigan Medicine leaders participated in Leadership Day. Through panel discussions and group activities, we conducted a deep dive on the theme of the day: “aligning people, strategy and culture to optimize Michigan Medicine performance.”

It was a wonderful event and much credit goes to the Leadership Day planning committee: Co-chairs Sonya Jacobs and Tim Laing, M.D., and Kate Alber, Phyllis Blackman, Margay Britton, Linnea Chervenak, Teresa Gasiciel, Margaret Gyetko, M.D., Kenneth Jamerson, M.D., Tarnisha McLaughlin, Jane Pettit, Alfreda Rooks, Stephanie Schroeder, Krista Stelmaszek, Don Tomford, Molly Trusty, Whitney Williams and Jordan Wright.

In preparation for Leadership Day, attendees completed a culture assessment, choosing words to describe our current culture, as well as words to describe our desired culture.

Among the words to describe our current culture: caring, collaborative, competitive, customer-focused, margin-driven, professional. Many of these terms also reflected in the future state: caring, collaborative and customer-focused. Among the terms desired in the future: mission-driven, team-oriented and trustworthy.

These were eye opening to me, as many colleagues view our current culture as margin-driven, set in our ways and traditional, but still caring and professional. They want the future Michigan Medicine to be forward thinking, adaptable and creative, all the while remaining caring, ethical and respectful.

This is why culture matters. We must find a balance between what our faculty, staff and learners feel Michigan Medicine is and what they want it to be. Neither state is wrong, but the absence of similar words on the current and future lists signals a desire for change.

To me, the top eight responses for our desired culture are a perfect combination of what we have done well in the past, and what we can do better in the future (in order): accountable, collaborative, creative, customer-focused, adaptable, agile, caring and inclusive. 

It is important that we continue this important dialogue, encouraging and listening to all perspectives, so that we can together begin to embody our ideal culture. Because culture is more than something that influences how we serve the tripartite mission. It is that same culture that ultimately affects how we serve our learners, the research community, and our patients and families.

September 2017 — Why Michigan Matters

Michigan Medicine’s success forges many rankings that reflect our excellence in education, research and clinical care — a top-10 research and patient care medical school, highly touted children’s and adult hospitals, and a school with top-10 National Institutes of Health funding, to name a few.

Last week, Times Higher Education magazine ranked the University of Michigan No. 21 among all institutions of higher education. As an alumnus of the university and medical school, this latest accolade reminded me that — while my daily focus is on Michigan Medicine — we are part of something special here.

Founded in 1850 as the University’s first professional school, the medical school has played a vital role in U-M’s success. We are an integral part of an academic medical center that has made U-M a global leader in health care. But, we are not alone. The law school came online nine years later, and the university gradually founded 17 additional colleges and schools, with the most recent unit, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, opening in 1995. The U-M also expanded in Dearborn and Flint, with nine academic homes established on those campuses.

While the depth and breadth of U-M’s educational offerings is impressive, it is the relationship between these units that reinforces the Times figure. In the medical school, we successfully collaborate with many colleagues across campus. This includes the School of Nursing, playing a vital role in our patient care teams, the School of Public Health, working to stop the spread of disease, and the College of Engineering, helping to move new technology from the bench to bedside.

As part of the transformed medical student curriculum, our future doctors are working with faculty and students from the University’s other health science schools — Dentistry, Kinesiology, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Social Work — to learn how to successfully work in teams and play a vital role in a coordinated patient-care experience.

Leadership is a hallmark of our educational enterprise. Our colleges and schools joined to condemn recent acts of violence, both in the U.S. and abroad, and hateful graffiti that appeared last week on the Ann Arbor campus. While we have our missions to pursue, we are steadfast in our collective efforts to provide a diverse, inclusive and equitable environment for our faculty, staff and students to participate in world-class teaching, research and patient care.

Michigan matters because we excel as individual groups — across three campuses — but collectively we form the backbone of one of the world’s most-prestigious universities. With this latest acknowledgement of our excellence, we are proud of Michigan Medicine’s role in the University’s collective success.

August 2017 — Why Renewal Matters

For many, summer is a time to relax with family and friends and take pause from our work, school and daily responsibilities. We return from vacations recharged and ready to take on new challenges and embrace new opportunities. In many ways, summer is a season of renewal.

Summer also brings renewal to our academic medical center as we say goodbye to our graduating medical students, graduate students, nursing students, residents and fellows. Their seats do not stay unoccupied for long, however, as a new group of learners arrives on campus to take their place.

Our incoming Class of 2017 medical students officially joined our learning community on July 29 during the annual White Coat Ceremony. I had the privilege of helping our M1 students slip on their very first white coat, the highlight of a day that reminds me of my own journey and taking that important first step to becoming a doctor.

The White Coat Ceremony is a significant moment that will take its place among many others for our learning community, including the first time a resident or nurse saves a life, the first time a graduate student makes a breakthrough in the laboratory, or the first time a faculty or staff member connects with a learner in the classroom or clinic.

In addition to kicking off the new academic year, summer also gives me pause to reflect on an exciting first year as executive vice dean for academic affairs.

That Class of 2017 will study under a new curriculum retooled to make Michigan students leaders and change agents in health care. I have enjoyed watching our students and faculty embrace new ways of learning and teaching, and seeing them come together for the betterment of our health care system. 

I also have seen our academic medical center evolve as we continue to position the University of Michigan for success in an ever-changing landscape. It has been a little over six months since we became Michigan Medicine and sent a powerful message that no one is better prepared to lead health care.

Other notable achievements during the past year: 

Together, we are achieving extraordinary success.  

In the spring, we launched a Wellness and Civility initiative focused on improving the health and well being of our faculty, staff and learners and helping them nurture personal and professional relationships throughout the academic medical center. If you are relaxing and feeling refreshed this summer, it is the perfect time to think about how you can extend that feeling throughout the academic year.

As August begins and summer thoughts turn to back to school or the excitement of Michigan football, we have begun our new year — retooled, recharged and renewed.

June 2017 — Why Civility and Wellness Matter

At Michigan Medicine, we excel at taking care of others.

Our physicians, nurses and staff provide compassionate, patient-centered care. Our investigators handle subjects with great sensitivity and painstakingly follow research protocols. Our educators selflessly pass along their extensive knowledge while mentoring the next generation of physicians and scientists.

But, do we take care of each other and ourselves?

Caregivers often give more of themselves — both in mind and body — to ensure the well-being of our patients. The search for funding is never-ending and submission requirements and deadlines constantly bear down on our research community. The rollout of our new medical student curriculum requires more commitment from our teachers. Learners face exams and evaluations testing their progress as they absorb tremendous amounts of information and gain experience.

These pressures can bring stress, forge uncomfortable workplaces and cause friction in relationships.

In order to help foster an environment that promotes health, balance, and kindness, we have launched the Michigan Medicine Civility and Wellness Taskforce. The initiative will address more than physical and emotional health. It will focus on: a holistic, robust approach to addressing concerns; an expectation of civility from all members of our workforce; improved communication, trust and accountability; and assurances that all members of the community — employees, patients and families — know they have a voice and feel valued.

If you have feedback about this initiative, please feel free to reach out to any taskforce member:

  • Carol R. Bradford, M.D., executive vice dean for academic affairs
  • David J. Brown, M.D., associate vice president and associate dean for health equity and inclusion
  • Margaret M. Calarco, Ph.D., R.N., Michigan Medicine chief nursing executive
  • Jeffrey S. Desmond, M.D., Michigan Medicine chief medical officer
  • Margaret R. Gyetko, M.D., senior associate dean for faculty and faculty development
  • Sonya R. Jacobs, chief organizational learning officer
  • Joseph C. Kolars, M.D., senior associate dean for education and global initiatives
  • Robert W. Lash, M.D., chief of staff, Office of Clinical Affairs
  • Rajesh S. Magrulkar, M.D., associate dean for medical student education
  • LaVaughn Palma-Davis, senior director of university health and well-being initiatives
  • Denise M. Saint Arnault, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor of nursing
  • Stephanie L. Schroeder, human resources director
  • Raymond J. Strobel, medical student
  • Amanda K. Thatcher, academic chief of staff

I encourage you to look closely at the person sitting next to you, your colleague down the hall, even a stranger you see on campus. It may not be apparent, but they may be sick, stressed, on the verge of burnout, feeling unappreciated and overworked, or simply could use a helping hand.

Ask yourself: How do I treat them, and what can I do for them? With just a little effort, you can improve the lives of others, and yourself. This, in turn, will bring a new sense of civility to Michigan Medicine, as relationships improve, our employees and students feel better about themselves, and the organization is more unified and positive in its pursuit of our tripartite mission.

To be a truly great academic medical center, we must take a hard look at how we treat ourselves and our colleagues, friends, patients and visitors. As we begin this process, there are two easy steps each of us can take right now to improve civility and wellness within Michigan Medicine:

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other.

May 2017 — Why Leadership Matters

When U.S. News and World Report released its 2017 graduate school rankings in March, the University of Michigan Medical School was ranked as the ninth-best medical school for research in the U.S. and the fifth-best for primary care. We are one of few schools to be ranked in both categories. It was the latest affirmation of our status as a leader in medical education in primary care and in research, and we should all be very proud of our roles in this achievement.

No matter our title, we are all leaders in our own right. From executive leaders who manage the operations of our bustling academic medical center to first-year students who are just starting out in our cutting-edge research laboratories, each of us is a leader in our own space who has contributed greatly to rankings like USNWR. It is wonderful to be honored with these accolades, but what really matters is the impact we are making on medical education, patient care and research discovery.

Since becoming the Medical School’s executive vice dean for academic affairs in July 2016, I have been asked about my leadership style. I consider myself a servant leader who aspires to serve first and foremost the institution where I have spent my entire career. Instead of focusing on how I lead the academic mission of the school — open communication and fostering an environment of excellence are major parts of my philosophy — I prefer to focus on relaying the values that are most important to me: honesty and integrity.

Our executive leaders must be honest and transparent in their decision-making. It also is vitally important for our leaders to seek robust input so that diverse perspectives are considered before moving forward. And the newest members of our community, our students, one day will go forth as representatives of our Medical School and become leaders who will change health care. Integrity is one of their tools.

Rankings that demonstrate our excellence in primary care and research are not a reflection of simply having better facilities or more resources. Rather, they shine a much-deserved spotlight on all of you who come to work every day committed to fostering our tripartite mission and paving a way to our remarkable future. You are all leaders in this Medical School, and I thank you for your leadership.

March 2017 — Why Professorships Matter

As the University of Michigan celebrates its Bicentennial in 2017, our Medical School is approaching a milestone of its own in an area vital to our mission of excellence in education, research and clinical care.

Soon, we will celebrate the establishment of the 300th endowed professorship in UMMS history, a phenomenal figure that attests to the dedication of our benefactors who are committed to supporting the finest physicians and scientists in the country by creating endowment funds to help us recruit and retain a robust faculty.

The reasons donors endow a professorship are many. Some make gifts in memory of a family member or to honor a past U-M faculty member. Others are more mysterious. Elizabeth Bates, M.D., never attended or even visited the University of Michigan. After a successful career in Port Chester, N.Y., she left a gift in her will to the U-M to ensure that female students receive the same advantages as male students. In 1898, Michigan established the Bates Professorship of the Diseases of Women and Children — the first endowed professorship at the University of Michigan.

Recently, I hosted ceremonies inaugurating the Mark B. Orringer, M.D., Research Professorship in Thoracic Surgery and the Galen B. Toews, M.D., Collegiate Professorship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. The former honors a renowned emeritus surgeon, while the latter is a tribute to the life and career of an esteemed pulmonologist and Pulmonary and Critical Care division chief who passed away in 2011. Orringer Professor Jules Lin, M.D., and Bethany Moore, Ph.D., the first Toews Professor, will use the resources provided to explore innovative clinical and research pursuits that could lead to groundbreaking discoveries in their fields.

I feel fortunate to hold a named professorship as the Charles J. Krause, M.D., Collegiate Professor of Otolaryngology. I was truly honored to receive this professorship in 2012, and fortunate to celebrate with Dr. Krause, who passed away shortly after the installation ceremony. He was a dear mentor and friend, and his two decades of service as chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery raised our team to unprecedented heights. I feel blessed to have learned from one of the giants in our field, and I am deeply honored to hold the professorship in his name, honor and memory.

From the unexpected Bates gift in the late 1800s to the 19 endowed professorships established in 2016 alone, the Medical School and our wonderful donors truly are committed to building and supporting a world-class faculty — past, present and future. 

February 2017 — Why Our Voices Matter

Our bold and innovative new medical student curriculum has at its core that our students will be the leaders and change agents that transform medicine and health care. Our leaders, graduate students, medical students, residents and fellows, and faculty and staff share these aspirations, one of many reasons the University of Michigan Medical School is leading the charge into a new era of global health care.

Recent events have caused many of us to reflect on our values of diversity, inclusion and equity, and our aspirations to have a global impact on health and health care education. Thus, it should come as no surprise that we heard loudly and clearly from so many of you who are deeply troubled by recent events. We are shaken by these events, as well. We welcome your voices, and we stand with you in upholding the values we hold dear. These include an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion within our school and in our global outreach.

Our voices matter, because we have the unique perspective as a state-funded public university with a broad and meaningful global impact. When we speak, people listen.

We stand united with our leaders and colleagues across the university who have spoken loudly on our collective values. Dean Runge, Dr. Spahlinger and I recently shared our message on global inclusivity. President Schlissel issued a message for the University and then joined other university presidents in a letter asking President Trump to reconsider this executive order. Our Chair of Internal Medicine, Dr. John Carethers, joined several other Chairs from across the country in an insightful and compelling piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

So, what’s next? The more important the issue, the more it challenges the values we cherish. We want to continue to hear your voices. They really matter to us.

January 2017 — Why Innovation Matters

Happy New Year!

With 2017 underway, I am excited about the possibilities for the new year. I often think about who will lead the next big breakthrough, and what innovations will further distinguish our Medical School as a world leader in education, research and clinical care. The answer could very well be you — our talented faculty, staff and learners.

Every day, members of the Michigan Medicine community transform how we educate future physicians and scientists, conduct leading scientific inquiry and improve the patient care experience. As the University of Michigan celebrates its Bicentennial in 2017, the Medical School boasts numerous breakthroughs and innovations:

In 1869, Michigan became the first medical school in the United States to own and operate its own hospital. By the turn of the century, we introduced the concept of the clinical clerkship — allowing our students to practice medicine under supervision — something not possible at other medical schools, because private hospitals would not allow medical students to touch patients.

In education, leadership has worked tirelessly to innovate our medical student curriculum. We were a trailblazer in the introduction of the modern science-based curriculum and have increased our students’ clinical training through the years. Our current curricular transformation will produce outstanding physicians that are fully prepared to lead change in medicine.

There are numerous individual innovators, including Robert Bartlett, M.D., whose ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) technology has saved thousands of lives; James Shayman, M.D., whose 25 years of research led to the discovery of eliglustat as a treatment for Gaucher disease; and student Stephen John, who modified a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine into an infant ventilator to help treat babies in developing countries.

These innovations came about because one day, these individuals had an idea to try something new to improve lives. That spirit was strong again in 2016, as Michigan — through the leadership of Fast Forward Medical Innovation — produced 169 invention reports, received 43 patents and nurtured five business start-ups.

The year 2017 no doubt will bring new breakthroughs, innovations and ideas, and with them the promise of better health for all.

December 2016 — Why Family Matters

I entered the University of Michigan family as an undergraduate student. Upon graduation, I transitioned to the medical student family, and then into a cohort of residents before joining a close-knit group of faculty in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. At each stop, I have seen the importance of establishing a strong core of family members committed to working together in the pursuit of excellence. 

Since I joined the Medical School leadership team, I have been fortunate to meet more of my new “extended” family — the faculty, staff and learners of this wonderful medical school. We have faced unprecedented challenges the past few years; yet, we have overcome them by keeping the focus on our tripartite mission. Always considered the leaders and best, we are setting the course for the future of medicine and discovery — together. 

During this holiday season, I hope you spend quality time with your families, both personal and professional. As the New Year approaches, I encourage you to relax and reflect on the accomplishments of the past year — both as individuals and as members of the family of medicine at Michigan — while looking forward to future goals and aspirations. As you exchange gifts or good tidings, remember some of the best gifts we can give each other: camaraderie, support, friendship, etc.

For me, I have been reflecting on a busy six months as executive vice dean for academic affairs, with plenty of on-the-job learning. It has been, and will continue to be, an honor and a privilege to serve this amazing medical school and academic medical center. We are one of the strongest families in the world of academic medicine and I am very much looking forward to seeing what we can collectively accomplish through great teamwork in the months and years ahead.

From my family to yours, happy holidays!

November 2016 — Why Global Outreach Matters

The University of Michigan Medical School plays a prominent role in global education and long has been a leader in teaching others abroad, while also learning from them.

I had the privilege of serving as both teacher and learner during my recent world tour with the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies. I was fortunate to be one of eight physicians who traveled to Moscow, Prague, Riyadh, New Delhi, Seoul, Hong Kong, Auckland and Rio de Janeiro to teach principles of head and neck cancer treatment. The goal of the trip was to raise the bar for head and neck cancer globally.

Although it was a teaching mission, we also learned a great deal from those we met along the way. This included sharing meals, ideas and viewpoints with hundreds of professionals who, like us, are striving for excellence in the care of patients with head and neck cancers.

In Hong Kong, for example, we shared differing opinions with a local physician on the treatment of a young man with a moderately advanced tongue cancer. The current standard of care calls for surgery; however, the doctor planned to treat the cancer with radiation implants. This discussion highlighted the importance of vigorous discourse in achieving favorable patient outcomes, even across international borders.

We also experienced the passion of the next generation of head and neck cancer physicians. Torrential rain and high winds from Typhoon Haima closed schools, shuttered the stock market and halted public transportation. This did not deter a candidate for a Global Online Fellowship, or GOLF, from paying a taxi driver more than 10 times the typical fee so that she could get to an oral examination for head and neck cancer treatment.

These are just two memories for me from what was a wonderful opportunity to educate clinicians and trainees around the world about cutting-edge head and neck cancer care. After traveling approximately 35,000 miles in one month, I returned to Ann Arbor a better surgeon, teacher and member of the global medical community.

October 2016 — Why Academics Matter

As the University of Michigan prepares to celebrate its bicentennial in 2017, we in the Medical School should take great pride in our status as the first professional school on campus and a visionary unit that strives to improve education at all levels.

When the Medical School opened its doors to students in 1850, we made a commitment to train future generations of Michigan physicians and scientists. While a lot has changed since that first class of students paid a mere $5 for two years of instruction, one thing has not — an unwavering commitment to our academic mission.

In 1869, the U-M opened the first University-owned teaching hospital in the United States. Leadership realized that students needed to obtain real-world experience. By the turn of the century, we offered students clerkships to practice there. Today, our latest curriculum transformation puts students into the clinical setting on their first day.

Michigan also was among the first medical schools in the United States to admit women and minorities. Such foresight led to milestone medical degrees for Amanda Sanford as the first female graduate in 1871, and W. Henry Fitzbutler as the first African American graduate in 1873. Today, more than 60 percent of the incoming Class of 2016 is female, and the percentage of students underrepresented in medicine continues to climb.

As the medical student experience has evolved, so, too, have opportunities for our graduate and postdoctoral students. Many are entrenched in laboratories and deeply involved with groundbreaking research projects. They are on the front lines of the bench-to-bedside experience and play a major role in translational medicine.

Beyond simply preparing our learners for exemplary careers, the impact of our academic mission is felt far and wide. Our medical students will go forth as leaders and change agents in medicine; our graduate students will set the leading edge of discovery; and our residents and fellows are some of the most sought-after and respected doctors nationally.

For 166 years, the University of Michigan Medical School has excelled in our tripartite mission. At the core of our existence, however, is education and the need to teach and to pass along knowledge. Few in the worldwide academic medical community do it better.

September 2016 — Around the Medical School in 60 Days

In his classic novel, Jules Verne took readers Around the World in Eighty Days. My first two months serving as executive vice dean for academic affairs (EVDAA) have already provided wonderful adventures of my own — allowing me to pen my version of “Around the Medical School in 60 Days.”

Settling in as EVDAA — a role that focuses on the academic mission — I have told audiences of friends, old and new, why I feel Michigan is special. Traveling the halls of our Medical School has reinforced my belief that it is you — the faculty, staff and learners — that make U-M such a great place. Following are some of my early experiences:

On July 30, I participated in our annual White Coat Ceremony, welcoming new M1s eager to take their first steps toward becoming physicians. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and it was energizing to send the next generation of Michigan physicians on its way. I found myself reflecting on my own training here at Michigan and am grateful for the opportunity to lead and transform students for years to come as the EVDAA.

On Aug. 8, we celebrated the inauguration of the Amanda Sanford Hickey Collegiate Professorship in Internal Medicine, and installed Lona Mody, M.D., as the first Hickey Professor. Hickey was the first woman to earn a M.D. degree from Michigan, and her portrait hangs outside of my office in Med Sci I. Professorship inaugurations, like the Hickey event, brilliantly link our past and present and celebrate the power of philanthropy and faculty achievement. Royalties from the sale of eliglustat tartrate (Cerdelga) — a treatment for lysomal storage diseases, including Gaucher disease, developed over 25 years by Norman Radin, M.D., and James Shayman, M.D. — funded the Hickey Professorship.

On Aug. 10, I had the privilege of dining with 100-plus emeritus faculty, a group that has laid the foundation upon which our medical school rises. It was humbling for me to share an evening with so many individuals I have known, respected, interacted with and admired during my tenure as a student, resident, faculty member and department chair. Standing upon the shoulders of the exceptional leaders before us, we are together keeping Michigan a world leader in education, research and patient care.

Finally, on Sept. 8 we celebrated with our Health System friends and generous donors who have us well on the way to achieving our $1 billion goal as part of the University’s Victors for Michigan campaign. Our benefactors make so many things possible, including support for our students, funding for promising research, and advances in clinical care for our patients and their families. It was truly an inspiring evening.

Looking ahead, there is much work to be done, and I am grateful to Dean Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., the senior associate, associate and assistant deans, and the administrative and support staff that has provided such an exceptional framework for me to advance our school’s academic mission. This includes education (medical student education, graduate medical education and graduate/postdoctoral studies), as well as faculty affairs and faculty development. I have hired Amanda Thatcher to serve as the school’s academic chief of staff. I worked closely with Amanda in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and have entrusted her with executive oversight and leadership over multiple academic-related initiatives. When the school’s new chief scientific officer arrives in the coming months, I look forward to collaborating with him/her and the other executive leadership to further strengthen our research enterprise. This includes the basic sciences, where we are actively recruiting new chairs for the departments of Biological Chemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology, and Human Genetics.

In times of transition, it is crucial that we review our goals and priorities. This fall, the Michigan Leadership Team and academic leaders collectively will refine our vision, mission, priorities and goals for the academic mission. We aspire to be inclusive in this process, so we welcome your thoughts and input.

I opened this message with talk of traveling around the world. I will be doing just that in October as a member of the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies. A group of eight physicians will travel to Moscow, Prague, Riyadh, Delhi, Seoul, Hong Kong, Auckland and Rio de Janeiro to teach principles of head and neck cancer treatment. The trip dovetails perfectly with one of our school’s priorities — global impact.

In closing, I welcome your input and suggestions for improving the Medical School and larger Academic Medical Center. Feel free to reach me at cbradfor@med.umich.edu. As I have told many throughout my journey, the University of Michigan is truly an extraordinary place, and I am committed to our collective success.