About the Culture of Caring

The College of Human Medicine was founded as a medical school in 1964, one of the nation's pioneers of community-based medical education. It’s mission to provide education, discovery, and service to state of Michigan has been unwavering.

However, over the years, many major events have affected the university at large, as well as the college itself. Responses to these events have been mixed.

For this reason, Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., MD, MHS, while dean of the college, asked Jennifer Johnson, PhD, a psychologist and C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health, and Claudia Finkelstein, MD, the college’s director of Wellness, Resiliency and Support for the Vulnerable, to lead a workgroup, which founded and developed the Culture of Caring program.

“The Culture of Caring is about making the system caring, safe and responsive,” said Dr Johnson. Our efforts reemphasize the college’s founding culture and we strive to ensure that the college fully acknowledges and respects the physical and emotional wellbeing of its faculty, staff, students and patients.”

  • Principles

    The Culture of Caring uses trauma-informed principles to shape organizational change. It emphasizes the physical, psychological and emotional safety of those within the college, as well as of those it serves. Johnson emphasized that although the model includes the word “trauma,” it applies to more than the most serious cases, such as a physical assault. It’s equally aimed at dealing with smaller issues by creating a sense of safety, transparency and peer support.

    While the program was started partly in response to the scandal that erupted around Larry Nassar, its scope is more wide ranging. Institutional attitudes and habits must be examined in order to promote a culture where people are not afraid to speak up and believe they will be heard.

    Trauma-informed principles are an institutional way to reestablish the college’s commitment to caring and wellness in a fair, honest, collaborative fashion. These principles are:

    1. Safety
    2. Maintaining trustworthiness and transparency
    3. Using peer support
    4. Supporting collaboration and mutuality
    5. Promoting empowerment, voice, and choice
    6. Acknowledging culture, historical, and gender-related issues
  • Objective
    We aspire to become a trauma-informed community which understands, recognizes and responds to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma-informed communities emphasize physical, psychological and emotional safety for all members and help all involved rebuild a sense of control and empowerment. Understanding the impact of trauma is an important first step in becoming a compassionate and supportive community
  • What does the program consist of?

    The Culture of Caring program is nimble. In addition to a Speaker Series and facilitated small group discussions (in East Lansing, Flint and Grand Rapids before the pandemic) the program has created virtual support groups, pop-up mindfulness sessions and newsletters.

    The program also includes confidential suggestion boxes. Submit suggestions, concerns, and questions to the Culture of Caring team.

    “There’s no suggestion too big or too small,” Finkelstein said. “There’s no trauma too big or too small. If you see something, say something, and we can make this a better place."