Lauren Piper, DO, an assistant professor and family medicine physician who has served WMed learners and patients in the Kalamazoo community for nearly 10 years, has been named the medical school’s new associate dean for Clinical Affairs.
Dr. Piper’s new role, which follows an eight-month stint as interim assistant dean for Clinical Affairs, became effective December 1, 2023. She replaces Keith Kenter, MD, who stepped down as associate dean for Clinical Affairs after serving in the position overseeing the medical school’s clinical efforts for more than four years.
Dr. Piper brings a breadth of experience to the position. She is an alumna of Kalamazoo College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in health sciences in 1996. She earned her DO degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2001 and completed her Family Medicine residency training with a certificate of emphasis in Women’s Health at Metropolitan Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Following residency, Dr. Piper worked in Marshall doing full-spectrum family medicine including inpatient care, outpatient care, prenatal care, and deliveries, as well as nursing home care. Dr. Piper left private practice in 2014 to become an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at WMed.
She is advisory faculty for the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics (ALSO) program at the medical school and continues to practice full spectrum family medicine with Family Medicine residents in Kalamazoo. From July 2017 to July 2023, she served as the Medical Director for the Family Medicine-Kalamazoo residency clinic and she continues to serve as co-medical director.
Dr. Piper said her experience as a Family Medicine physician and clinic director will serve her well as an associate dean and it has equipped her with the understanding that strong primary care clinics are the foundation of a good healthcare system locally and nationally.
With that in mind, she said one of her main focuses will be to ensure that the array of primary care clinics at WMed Health – Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Medicine-Pediatrics, and Pediatrics – are operating efficiently and providing top-notch patient care.
“I’m definitely taking that into this role and making sure our primary care programs at WMed Health are really strong and successful,” Dr. Piper said. “It’s a necessity in my view in order for all of those programs and our specialty programs to be successful because of the relationship they have with each other.”
Also, at the top of her list, Dr. Piper said, is navigating the healthcare industry staffing shortages, which are not unique to the organization, and are a lingering issue brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, Dr. Piper said some healthcare workers are beginning to return to the field and she is hopeful open positions for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, medical assistants, and billing specialists will be filled in the future.
“We have many people at WMed in different roles, both medical and non-medical positions, who work here and are dedicated to the success of the medical school and the level of excellent care we provide to our patients at WMed Health,” Dr. Piper said. “I'm honored to have the opportunity to lead this group of amazing people.”