Kern Institute_Hero9

Transformational Ideas Initiative (TI2)

The annual initiative funds projects proposed by MCW faculty, staff, students, residents and fellows that focus on innovating medical education aligned with one or more of the Triple Aims of Medical Education: Character, Competence and Caring.

In these projects, collaboration and partnerships within MCW and with other institutions, community members and organizations are encouraged. Accepted ideas get refined through a human-centered design process led by experienced facilitators who help teams scope and finalize their project implementation plans for success.

2019-20 Transformational Ideas Initiative Projects

Promoting Clinical Empathy Among Medical Students During Their Clinical Years in Medical School

By Pinky Jha, MD; Sanjay Bhandari, MD; Brian Hillgeman, MD; Patrick Foy, MD; Hari Paudel, MD; Mario Scarpinato; Kevin Schlidt

We propose developing a longitudinal curriculum to help M3 and M4 develop empathy skills during their M3 inpatient clerkship and M4 ambulatory medicine rotation, respectively. We will use multiple modalities of teaching including real time patient feedback, short app-based secure tweets, and group-based didactics, all aimed on addressing barriers. Students will be asked to tweet short narratives via a secure app to reflect upon their patient interactions, and we will survey students with regards to the efficacy of direct patient feedback, workshop and narrative tweets, and their overall perceptions of empathy.

Developing an App to Address Social Determinants of Health in Medical Education and Patient Care

By Michael Nordness, Med Student; Nathan Fleming, MD, MPH; Audrey Burghardt, MSCP, CSW; PI: Theresa Maatman, MD, FACP; Joanne Bernstein, MD; Bob Waite

We propose the development of an app-based SDOH education tool that instructs learners on how to screen for and address health-related social needs to address this SDOH knowledge gap. Using the proposed app before seeing each patient, students would enter each patients zip code, which would generate a list of SDOH indicators for the patients community. Students would additionally be able to click on the individual SDOH indicators for a brief educational summary of each indicators influence on health outcomes. They would also have access to both SDOH-based interview questions and the contact information for 2-1-1, a nationwide non-profit that connects people with community resources, to help address each patients SDOH needs.

Mobile Learning for Pediatric Clerkship Students

By James McCarthy, MD; Kelsey Porada, MA

We propose developing a mobile app to assess the impact of mobile learning on students in the third year pediatric clerkship. For over a year we have been producing a podcast, titled Peds Soup, that focuses on evidence-based review of core topics in pediatrics. In this project, we plan to develop a mobile app as a supplement to the podcast. The app would include pre- and post-test questions for students to track their knowledge gain after listening to podcast episodes, links to relevant articles for further reading, and a progress report where learners can compare their scores against the overall average and identify their own strengths and weaknesses.

Difficult Conversations OSCEs

By John Hayes, DO; Jessica Hayes, MS4; Shena Johnson, PsyD

We propose the creation of difficult conversations OSCEs to be used as a formative tool, facilitating debriefing that will coach students on handling these challenging scenarios. We will use simulated patient conversations, teaching students how to master these encounters before they must do it in real life. Students will leave these sessions better able to identify pitfalls in patient communication before they effect patient care.

Creation of Community-Centered Competencies for Assessment of Medical Student Community Engagement

By Amy Prunuske, PhD; Jacob Prunuske, MD, MSPH; Carolyn Nash, MD; Eric Giordano, PhD; and Haley Pysick, Med Student

We propose the development of a tool to assess the competency of students with respect to community engagement. We will work with community partners to identify student-level competencies for effective community partnerships, with an emphasis on the character aspects of trust and teamwork, and nurturing caring relationships. Once those competencies are identified, we will refine with students, faculty, and community partners to optimize language, relevance, and consistency of conceptual understanding. We will then seek to develop an app that will allow real-time feedback from community members regarding student progression and attainment of competencies in community engagement.

An Interactive Wiki for Learning the Diagnostic Thought Process and Rapidly Providing Pertinent Information

By John Astle, MD, PhD; Paul Guillod, MD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Alexandra Harrington, MD; Maria Hintzke, MD; Steven Kroft, MD; Vasiliki Levantaki, MD; and Molly Young

We propose developing an interactive informational resource that will help rotating pathology residents access hematopathology information in a way that follows the diagnostic thought process. This project aims to provide a proof of concept for a resource that will ultimately be useful for learning and reviewing nearly any area of diagnostic medicine. While initially useful primarily to physicians-in-training who are learning the diagnostic thought process, this resource has the potential to provide practical learning and review for even the most seasoned physicians, particularly by reminding them of rare diseases to consider, notifying them of novel laboratory tests that have become available, and aiding in interpretation of atypical findings.

Interprofessional Military Academic Enrichment: Developing Student Competencies

By Michael Nagy, PharmD; Kajua Lor, PharmD; Meaghan Hayes, MEd; Kenneth Lee, MD; Sean Blaeser, Pharm Student; Megan Grochowski, Pharm Student; Isabelle Sviatloslavsky, Pharm Student; Taylor Williams, Med Student

We propose to develop and implement an interprofessional elective course between the medical and pharmacy schools that trains and evaluates students on providing competent care for veteran and military members. The main focus is on the culture and communication surrounding this unique population.

The Art of Observation: Using Visual Thinking Strategies to Improve Observation and Communication while Building Empathy

By Valerie Carlberg, MD; Stephen Humphrey, MD; Alexandria Bear, MD

We propose to develop a collaborative curriculum titled "The Art of Observation" between the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Art Museum to improve visual literacy, diagnostic accuracy, communication, self-reflection, tolerance for ambiguity, and build empathy. By sharing observations aloud, students will build confidence and communication skills, as well as improved observation skills leading to increased competence in diagnostic reasoning. Through listening and paraphrasing others observations, students will develop an appreciation for diverse perspectives and increased tolerance for situations without a clear answer.

Mentorship for Pre-Clinical Medical Students

By Sonali Srivastava, Med Student; Srisha Kotlo, Med Student; Alonzo Walker, MD; Kurt Pfeifer, MD; PI: Malika Siker, MD

We propose to address the challenge many URM medical students face in finding mentors from diverse backgrounds and specialties to obtain invaluable career advice and encouragement as they begin to define their medical interests. This program will facilitate mentorship relationships between first/second year medical students and clinical faculty through regular, casual lunches over diverse cuisines. This program will pair mentors with students to provide career guidance, serve as role models, and help provide implicit knowledge of how to navigate the medical profession, as well as imparting emotional support and encouragement.

Training to Heal: Trauma-Informed Care Training for Healthcare Students

By Courtney Barry, PsyD, MS; Rachel Piszczor, PsyD; Constance Gundacker, MD, MPH; Jonathan Perle, PhD, ABPP; Carly Wallace, MA; Jineane Shibuya; Mai'ana Feuerborn; Michelle Leininger

This project, which is a collaboration between the Medical College of Wisconsin and Midwestern University-Downers Grove, aims to improve trauma-informed care knowledge and skills. This unique partnership, between MD and DO programs, will foster interdisciplinary collaboration between physicians, psychologists, medical and psychology students. The training will address topics on ACEs and trauma, the physiologic response of trauma, the presentation of trauma in a medical patient, and finally, tools that providers can utilize during an encounter. The goal is to develop competent and caring future healthcare providers, who understand the impact of trauma on health outcomes.

InnovativeIdeasInitiative2_Image Text Split Component

2018-19 Innovation Celebration

Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating the completion of the 2018-19 Innovative Ideas Initiative on Monday, April 29 at the Medical College of Wisconsin. We are extremely proud of our 2018-19 teams and all that they accomplished this year.  

InnovativeIdeasInitiative1_Image Text Split Component

2018-19 Innovation Celebration

In early 2018, the Kern Institute at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) asked faculty, students and staff for ideas on how to innovate medical education through character, competence, and caring. An overwhelming response of ideas resulted in the funding of ten innovation projects poised to expand the learning opportunities of MCW medical students. Each of the project teams utilized human-centered design thinking and the entrepreneurial mindset to shape and frame their projects for success. To celebrate their innovation journey and launch their projects, an Innovation Celebration was held at MCW on September 5, 2018.

Douglas E. Melton, PhD, began the program with a presentation titled "Want Better Medicine? Become Infected with the Entrepreneurial Mindset," followed by presentations from all ten Innovation Teams.

2018-19 Ideas Initiative Poster Presentations

Faculty Resilience, Grit, and Character Strengths: Requisite Elements of Success (PDF)
by Robert Treat, PhD; Kristina Kaljo, PhD; Jennifer Apps, PhD; Bipin Thapa, MD; Kerrie Quirk, MS

The Quality Rounds Initiative Parent Coaching Program (PDF)
by Heather Toth, MD; Kelsey Porada; Kelly Lynch; Mike Weisgerber, MD, MS; Sarah Vepraskas, MD; Erica Chou, MD; Amanda Rogers, MD; Sarah Lauck, MD

Student Leadership Development Initiative: Building Confidence and Leadership Skills in Medical Education (PDF)
by Allison Linehan; Alex Chartier; Michael Sobin; William Hueston, MD; John Meurer, MD, MBA

Teaching Cultural Humility Through Education, Service and Leadership Experiences (PDF)
by Wasif Osmani; Alex Schurman; Joanna Obaoye; Megan Cory; Linda Meurer, MD, MPH

Fostering Cultural Humility in Medical Education Through Service Learning (PDF)
by Nicole Runkle; Mahir Mameledzija, MBA; David Nelson, PhD, MS

Increasing Refugee and Trainee Comfort in Cross-Cultural Medical Interactions (PDF)
by Caitlin Kaeppler, MD; Kelsey Porada, MA; Carmen Cobb, MD

Mental Health from Orientation through Commencement (PDF)
by Sarah VanderZanden, DVM and Jennifer Haluzak, MEd

Virtual Clinic Videos: Using Design Thinking to Improve Medical Education (PDF)
by Austin Dopp; Nathan Klesmith; Scott Self; Ryan Spellecy, PhD

Point of Care Cartooning (PDF)
by Theresa Maatman, MD; Katinka Hooyer, PhD, MS; Rushi Patel; Branden Vugrnick; Sara Graciano

Empathy: Can It Really Be Taught? (PDF)
by Katarina Stark; Alexandria Bear, MD; Aamer Ahmed, MBA

Transformational Ideas Initiative Advisory Committee


M. Chris Decker, MD

Director, Culture & Systems Pillar, Kern Institute


Ilya Avdeev, PhD

Adjunct Professor; Member, Culture & Systems Pillar, Kern Institute


Arthur R. Derse, MD, JD

Member, Culture & Systems Pillar, Kern Institute


Kathryn Havens, MD

Member, Culture & Systems Pillar, Kern Institute


Fabrice Jotterand, PhD

Member, Cross Pillar, Kern Institute


Julia Schmitt

Program Manager & Senior Communications Consultant, Kern Institute


Ryan Spellecy, PhD

Member, Cross Pillar, Kern Institute


Chris Stawski, PhD

Member, Student and Culture & Systems Pillars, Kern Institute

Contact Us

Julia Schmitt

Program Manager

(414) 955-4960
Kern Institute
Medical College of Wisconsin
8701 Watertown Plank Rd., Suite M1990
Milwaukee, WI 53226