2016 Holiday Letter




Happy Holidays!


During the past year, our department has identified key actionable goals within our overall mission to make sure that we are part of the solution of achieving a more cost-effective and responsive healthcare system that focuses on better managing complex physical and psychological disorders within the primary care setting, and in building population health. 

In the following, I briefly discuss what we have achieved during the past year and some key goals going forward. Further down, you can read in more detail about our achievements in the areas of: education, clinical practice and services, geriatrics, faculty achievements, and research.

Based on input from a number of stakeholders, our department has created a strategic plan that addresses the challenges facing healthcare systems within a framework of value-based healthcare and population health. The figure below is a graphic description of our plan. The overarching aim of our strategic plan is to contribute towards achieving a high reliability healthcare system. Towards this aim, we target three distinct areas: Patients, Providers and Systems. Our three core missions: Education, Practice and Services, and Research, are closely integrated towards achieving this overall aim.

The College of Human Medicine’s new medical education focus, the Shared Discovery Curriculum, will enhance our future physicians’ capacity to better address social determinants of health, be a healthcare team leader, and also find more joy in the practice of medicine.

Our clinical operations within the Health Team’s primary care integrated practice has implemented a new electronic medical records system that will allow us to focus more on healthcare outcomes and integrate population health strategies in the overall care process. We have also launched a practice transformation initiative to identify means by which we can improve the way we serve our family medicine patients, and enhance the satisfaction and efficiency of practicing family medicine.

Within the research domain, we have started several initiatives. We have applied research targeting how to better address the needs of patients with complex medical challenges. These are patients that suffer from at least two chronic disorders in addition to having challenges with pain and mood disorders. These are the most challenging patients to the provider; managing complex disorders is also putting high demand on the patients themselves.  We have also strengthened our research capacity within psychosocial and environmental health to better address common public health challenges to building population health; for example, asthma, depression, and stress. We have initiated several projects addressing health risks facing the healthcare workforce with implications for their capacity to provide high reliability healthcare. Finally, we are working with several large healthcare systems to better define how we can contribute to their mission of achieving high reliability healthcare. As part of this overarching goal, we are increasingly building MSU-led collaborative research projects.

In the coming year, we will further intensify our work, together with a large number of stakeholders, on contributing towards achieving a high reliability healthcare system. We have submitted several grants to NIH addressing means to improve health and wellbeing for members of our society facing special challenges that interfere with their health. We are also working with our community partners in how to best translate research into a community-driven population health-based laboratory. Work on strengthening the sustainability of the healthcare workforce will continue; from recruiting students with the proper experiences and skills set, to securing the health and sustainability of the workforce.

I am sure the year to come will offer a number of exciting opportunities, especially since Michigan is one of the states that has been selected to be a community-driven population health-based laboratory, in exploring new ways of financing and delivering healthcare. The focus is on integrated care, value-based care, where the outcome of care is being compensated rather than number of activities and cost. This current nation-wide migration of the healthcare discourse puts primary care in the center. We need to step up to the plate, together with all our stakeholders, and show how we can be a player in defining the efficient, person-centered, and sustainable healthcare system of the 21st century.

Thank you all, faculty and staff as well as our many partners, for an exciting and productive 2016 and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a healthy 2017!


Bengt B. Arnetz, MD, PhD, MPH, MScEpi
Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine
Chair, Department of Family Medicine
College of Human Medicine
Michigan State University



by Steve Roskos, MD

In 2016, we had many educational accomplishments and firsts. We hosted the first Medical Student Family Medicine Specialty Seminar, where 80 first year students came together over dinner and were exposed to the best that family medicine has to offer. Five fourth-year students are participating in The Integrated Medical School and Family Medicine Residency Program (TIP), including Nicole Zimmer and Dan Drake who will both be at MidMichigan in Midland, Sarah Robbins who will be at Sparrow/MSU in Lansing, and Tarajo Reinhart and Jeffrey Sweers who will both be at Grand Rapids.

The Department supported many students financially to pursue their interests in family medicine research or a career. The Department awarded a Summer Research Scholarship to Miriam Weiss, who, working with her mentor Andrea Wendling, MD, was able to complete a project and will be presenting it at The North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) conference. Through the Department Student Scholars Fund, Evan Milton was able to present his research at the 2016 Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) Spring Conference. The MSU CHM Family Medicine Interest Group was able to provide funds to support six students in their travel to the AAFP Family Medicine Experience (FMX).

The Shared Discovery Curriculum is up and running for first-year students. Many of them are enjoying their Early Clinical Experience (ECE) in family medicine offices all over the state. We have recruited new physicians to make sure that we provide students, and residents, with the best possible experience in preparing them to provide high-quality primary care of the future. And last but most importantly, twenty 2016 CHM graduates matched in Family Medicine in 2016, 10.8% of the class.



by Judy Arnetz, PhD

The Department of Family Medicine (DFM) currently administers 16 grants, 12 of which were funded in 2016. Although faculty submitted fewer grants in 2016 (n=20) compared to 2015 (n=27), our funding success rate increased from 11% to 55% of submissions per year. Currently funded projects contribute over $1.5 million to the Department. These projects cover all 3 aspects of our high reliability health care research framework, aiming to improve healthcare systems, patient health, and the health, safety, and education of the healthcare workforce. Projects funded in 2016 have received awards from NIH, The Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and MSU/Sparrow Center for Innovation and Research. Projects cover a wide variety of topics, including skills training for geriatric care assistants, molecular profiling of Alzheimer’s disease, Medicare intensive behavioral therapy for obesity, workplace bullying among hospital nurses,  and metal toxicity due to inhalation of contaminated mine waste dust.

To date, DFM faculty have published a total of 69 peer-reviewed papers, a substantial increase over previous years (28 publications in 2014 and 42 publications in 2015). In 2016, faculty disseminated their research findings at 82 national and international meetings. Going forward, we will further leverage our research strength in supporting our primary care, healthcare systems, and community partners in addressing their challenges in addressing patients’ and population health’s needs. 

This year we strengthened our research capacity with the recruitment of two new faculty, Masako Morishita, PhD, and Elizabeth Hengstebeck, DO. Dr. Morishita is an international expert in environmental exposure science with research focused on pulmonary and cardiovascular health. Dr. Hengstebeck is a family medicine physician with research interests in optimizing treatment for patients with complex disorders. We extend a very warm welcome, to both of them, to our Family Medicine team! Going forward, we will further leverage our research strengths in supporting our primary care, healthcare systems, and community partners to better meet the challenges in addressing their patient and population health needs.


Geriatric Division

by Kevin Foley, MD

The division of geriatric medicine has had another remarkably successful year in advancing its goals. The geriatric medicine fellowship program, co-sponsored by MSU and Sparrow Hospital, graduated two fellows in 2016, that are planning to stay in the Lansing area to practice. Both will add to our academic faculty and help to meet the health care needs of the vast older adult population in Ingham County.  The fellowship has graduated a total of 20 fellows since 1986 and has received national recognition for the development of the MSU geriatrics fellowship network, launched in 2010. The mission of the network is to spread geriatric care and education into Michigan communities that are underserved by geriatricians.

The division’s focus on growing the workforce of health care professionals who are skilled in meeting the needs of frail older adults will be further enhanced through a new grant awarded to Clare Luz, PhD, to study the outcomes associated with specialized training of Personal Care Assistants who care for older adults in their homes. Dr. Luz’s program is entitled, “An Integrated Model for Personal Assistant Research and Training,” and, as mentioned above, is funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

For the coming year, the collective efforts of our clinical faculty will continue to be focused on improving complex older adults access to geriatric care services across a continuum of sites in the greater Lansing area. Planning is already underway to expand our research emphasis in 2017 on topics related to growing the geriatric health care workforce and disseminating essential geriatrics knowledge to a wide-range of health professionals who care for the elderly.



Clinical Division

by Dave Walsworth, MD

2016 has been an exciting year for the MSU Family Health Center.  In April, the HealthTeam decided to update our electronic health record to athenaClinicals. This will better serve our faculty and the patients who entrust their care to us.  This change will help us meet the triple aim of increasing patient and population health quality; improving patient, provider, and staff experience of care; and reducing healthcare costs.  We were joined mid-year by an outstanding family physician-researcher, Dr. Elizabeth Hengstebeck. 

November has been a capstone month, not only has seven months of preparation resulted in a successful EMR implementation, but we have been notified of our successful participation in the Michigan Primary Care Transformation Project. This has earned us continued participation in the Michigan Statewide Innovation Model program.  Both programs are multipayor demonstration projects of Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, and Priority Health.  Finally, we have also been notified that we have been invited to join the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus demonstration project.



by John vanSchagen, MD

The Department of Family Medicine was fortunate to have two of its faculty members honored by the College of Human Medicine and by Michigan State University.  While the quality and character of our faculty has never been in doubt, it is always nice to have outside recognition and validation of the hard work that goes into such quality.

Marolee Neuberger, MS, was selected for the MSU Distinguished Academic Staff Award in January 2016.  Marolee is Director of the MSU Family Medicine Residency Network Program for the Department of Family Medicine. As director, she provides a leadership role for the Network, focusing on collaborative work with the nine program directors, faculty, and staff. Together, they identify pertinent goals and action steps which will improve graduate medical education in Michigan.

Henry Barry, MD, MS, received the CHM Distinguished Faculty Award in September 2016.  Henry is a tenured professor in the Department, and currently serves as the CHM Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Development.  The Department has been asked to submit his nomination to the MSU All-University Awards Committee for the William J. Beal Award for Outstanding Faculty.  This nomination has been gladly made, and we await the decision of the committee on this prestigious award.

Congratulations to Marolee and Henry for their outstanding contributions to the Department, the College, the University, and all of their colleagues and learners!