March 21, 2016

Michael Lukela, MD: Leading by example

Med School faculty get iced for a good cause

Dr. Michael Lukela playing broomball

One of the highlights of the UMMS American Medical Women’s Association chapter’s annual Charity Bash is the Faculty vs. Students Broomball Tournament. This year’s event took place on the last Saturday in February with teams of five facing off in an Ann Arbor hockey rink. The faculty had their work cut out for them: the M1 intramural team was crowned the Graduate Student League Champion this past year.

Michael Lukela, MD, volunteered to lead this year’s faculty team. As director of the Dr. William Henry Fitzbutler House within M-Home, Dr. Lukela feels that participating in these types of activities is essential for faculty. Here he shares his thoughts on why broomball is worth the risk and how finding an environment in which to thrive can make all the difference.

“My primary role was to reassure faculty that most of us would not experience any lasting physical injuries and to ensure that all of our insurance was up to date. I played broomball at a similar AMWA event about four years ago. It wasn’t pretty, but a great opportunity to connect with the students and support a wonderful organization.

We (the faculty) survived! There were a ton of students and faculty at the event. It was a terrific opportunity for students to meet the faculty’s families, talk casually and see them in a very different light.

Michael Lukela, MD, talking about a faculty vs. students broomball tournament

“Once the competition began, it was clear that we were no longer in our mid-twenties (or thirties, for that matter). Our minds were willing, but our bodies, well … It was a spirited competition and the faculty teams held their own.

“Admittedly, we had no idea where to begin. I recruited my 10-year-old son to play on our team and he did his best to keep us in the game. Alas, the students were simply too good! I’m sure that they appreciated the thrills and spills of watching the uncoordinated faculty shuffle, slide and crawl across the ice. At the end of the day, amidst all of the wipeouts, it was a blast! A few bruises here and there, and the need for some ibuprofen the following day.

“This event is reflective of the culture at Michigan and the premise behind M-Home, in which service-based learning is an essential component. Given that many of these types of events occur outside of ‘regular’ hours, faculty participation is a tangible demonstration of our support for the students. In addition, the connection to service-based learning reinforces our commitment to providing holistic care to our patients and their families outside of the clinical setting.

“Michigan is a very special place. The University has an exceptional academic reputation, but a significant draw to come here for my residency training was the people. It was an environment that supported my personal development while I was experiencing the rigors of learning to practice medicine.

“These are very much the same reasons my wife and I have remained at Michigan as faculty. What initially began as a four-year pit stop to complete our training has evolved into 18+ years of commitment. The joys of teaching enable us to give back to this wonderful community by empowering and inspiring the next generation of physician leaders to make meaningful, positive impacts within and outside the field of medicine.

“Although a wonderful experience, medical school is demanding. I personally believe that it is important for students to find what I call their ‘thrive environment’ — a place that is intellectually challenging and inspiring, but which makes the successes and setbacks within and outside of the classroom manageable. In other words, it should be a place that feels like home.”