We are committed to fostering a culture of wellness that will follow students throughout their careers. The medical school offers countless wellness-themed events throughout the year, including wellness breaks before each exam, and Wellness Week, an entire week dedicated to wellness activities. During these events, students engage with wellness activities and programming like healthy snacks, movie nights, wellness seminars, and even therapy dogs! We also have a fitness facility for students to use with treadmills, weight-lifting machines, and a group exercise room.
Several students are members of the Wellness Committee, a student-led, administration-supported group that aims to provide wellness education, programming, and activities to our students. The Wellness Committee has identified six facets of wellness: Physical, social, mental, financial, spiritual-cultural, and community wellness.
Additionally, there are several student interest groups at the medical school that incorporate student wellness into their overall focus and mission.
- Arts in Medicine (AIM)
The Arts and Medicine group aims to facilitate a link between medical students and the arts. Our goal is to create a space where students can engage in personal expression, reflection and growth. By developing their creative, observational and technical skills, we hope to have a positive impact on the quality of life of these medical students and their community.
We hope to have a recurring event series that consists of students making art in a guided structure. These meeting are intended to be a safe outlet for expression, but also relaxing and fun. In addition, we hope to organize workshops, lectures and field trips in order to expose students to different modalities of art.
- Dermatology Interest Group
Skin Cancer Screening and Prevention
Whether you’re stepping out to greet the sweltering summer heat or inches of freshly fallen snow under your boots, wearing sunscreen is an essential step in your daily routine to minimize exposure to ultraviolet radiation and reduce the risk of skin cancer. We see many months of snow in Michigan, and rays from above and below, bouncing off of the snow on the ground, can multiply one’s UV exposure. Talking statistics, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancer diagnoses combined. One in every five Americans will develop skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old.
Damage from UV exposure is cumulative, and years of damage increase the risk of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). These cancers occur on sun-exposed areas of skin. Perhaps sooner, you might notice signs of premature photoaging and red-hot burns from UVA and UVB rays. UV exposure that leads to sunburn has proven to play a strong role in developing melanoma, the most dangerous of the three most common types of skin cancer. Five or more sunburns more than doubles your risk of developing potentially deadly melanoma.
Even people with darker skin tones or those who always tan or rarely burn can get skin cancer, skin damage, premature aging, and hyperpigmentation from UV radiation. Skin cancer in people of color (African, Asian, Latino, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Native American descent) is often diagnosed later, making it harder to treat. In people of color, melanoma often occurs on the palms, soles, under the nail (subungual), and in nail areas. Sun protection, in all skin tones, is important.
Thankfully, skin cancer is also highly preventable and highly treatable. No matter the age, it’s important and never too late to start practicing good sun habits to take care of your skin, our body’s largest and most exposed organ. These include protecting yourself from natural UV rays, examining yourself for any new or changing spots or moles, seeing a primary care provider or dermatologist for a thorough skin check, and avoiding indoor tanning devices.
What can I do to protect my skin daily?
When you anticipate being outside, sun protection should include the recommended liberal frequent application of broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothing (i.e. long sleeves and pants, clothes with a built-in UPF, a wide-brim hat), and seeking shade or carrying a sun umbrella. Wearing sunglasses with a UV protective coating also protects the delicate skin around the eyes and can reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. This is very important during hours of intense sun, between 10AM and 4PM, especially during the summer.
Checking the UV index can help us make sun safe choices (what protective items to wear and whether to limit time outside). Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, and more frequently if activities include heavy sweating or swimming. A common myth is that taking these steps increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency, which is already highly prevalent in Michigan. In fact, dermatologists recommend an appropriate diet and supplements to achieve adequate levels. More information about interpreting the UV index can be found here.
How can I conduct a self-skin exam?
While doing a self-skin exam, remembering the signs of melanoma can be as simple as your A, B, C, D, and E’s.
- Asymmetry: One-half of the spot is unlike the other.
- Border: Borders of the spot are uneven or poorly defined.
- Color: The spot has varying colors from one area to the next.
- Diameter: The spot is 6mm or greater (~ size of a pencil eraser).
- Evolving: The spot’s size, shape, or color is changing.
One risk factor for skin cancer that is absolutely preventable is the usage of indoor tanning beds, which emit dangerous UV light. The World Health Organization lists indoor tanning beds as a cancer-causing agent. In fact, using a tanning bed before age 35 increases your lifetime risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Using a self-tanner product can offer the look of a year-round tan without the wrinkles and skin cancer. To learn more about the importance of sun safety, consider viewing Exposed from IMPACT Melanoma or In the Sun from Neutrogena, Melanoma Research Foundation and American Academy of Dermatology.
WMed has been recognized as a Skin Smart Campus by The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. Ensuring the well-being of our students, we are providing a safe and healthy learning and living environment on and off campus, pledging to keep indoor tanning devices off our campus and our affiliated buildings. We also promote skin cancer prevention policies and education.
The Indoor Tan-Free Skin Smart Campus Initiative is sponsored by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention in response to the 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer which concluded that there is a strong association between increased risk of skin cancer and indoor tanning use. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure from indoor tanning is completely avoidable which allows for interventions to help reduce skin-cancer related illness and deaths. Numerous studies have found that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with melanoma as one of the most common cancers diagnosed among young adults. According to The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group, the use of indoor tanning facilities before the age of 35 increases the risk for melanoma by 75 percent.
For more information, please see the following references used:
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group. The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: a systematic review. Int J Canc 2006; 120:1116-1122.
- Skin Cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm. Published 2014. Accessed May 22, 2022
Questions, please feel free to reach out to M3 Jess Duong.
- HeART of WMed
The HeART of WMed student interest group aims to facilitate a link between all individuals related to the medical school and the arts. Our goal is to create a space where students, residents, attending and faculty can engage in personal expression, exploration and networking through the medium of the arts.
Each year, in April, Medical students, residents, and staff are all invited to submit pieces of visual art for display and/or perform on stage for the “HeART of WMed Showcase.” All art pieces are displayed just outside the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus Auditorium for guests to enjoy. The event program typically includes a handful of performers - pianists, dancers, guitarists, poets, etc. The event itself is heavily promoted, and there is a fundraising component. A charitable organization in Kalamazoo is selected each year. Guests and participants are invited to make donations on the day of the event.
Through the expression of art, be it performance or visual, we would like to start conversations within our community about the outlets that individuals can use to come to terms with the situations they may face. The show is intended to be a safe outlet for expression, but also relaxing and fun. It is a time to come together, learn something new and spark interest in the humanities. In addition, our hope is to give back to the community that has given WMed so much. By putting on our event we hope to bring the WMed community together and allow for the development of artistic outlets as well as networking opportunities.
- Nutrition and Medicine Interest Group
NAMIG’s mission is to promote awareness for the applications of nutrition across medical specialties in supporting longitudinal patient health and well-being, provide opportunities for interprofessional development with allied health, and disseminate resources that will enable medical professionals to better facilitate comprehensive patient care.
- Dance and Performance Interest Group
WMed Dance seeks to expose students to a variety of dance styles to gain an appreciation of the culture, music, and athletic nature of dances from around the world. Dance classes/meetings are open to the entire WMed community and absolutely no previous experience is required in order to participate. Classes/meetings can be led by any member who wishes to share his/her knowledge of dance with the group. Dance is a wonderful way to gain some exercise, take a break from a busy day, and to broaden our horizons: Come dance with us!
- WMed Soccer
The purpose of WMed Soccer is to bring students together to play recreational soccer. We will build teamwork and communication skills while promoting exercise, healthy living, and having fun playing the world's favorite sport.
- WMed Volleyball
The WMed Volleyball Interest Group is committed to promoting teamwork and physical activity through the sport of volleyball. Students and faculty of all skill levels are welcome and encouraged to join our supportive and open environment. We hope to provide an outlet for stress-relief and wellness throughout the year, with opportunities to play both indoor and outdoor volleyball, as well as in leagues within the Kalamazoo area.
Limited, free, confidential personal counseling services are available to students with school-related adjustment issues such as anxiety or situational depression. Independent licensed counselors serving as consultants to the medical school provide the sessions and are bound by confidentiality. Students may confidentially make appointments by contacting Dr. Mary Wassink at 269-760-9220 (text or call), or Willow Path Counseling Center at 269-459-8889. Fees for up to six counseling sessions are paid by WMed.
Additionally, a list of private practice counselors, psychologists, and substance abuse counselors is available on the Student Portal in the Student Counseling and Support tab (login required). This information is provided as a guide, and any fees that may occur are the responsibility of the student. Questions regarding these resources can be directed to Student Affairs.