Marschall Runge

Forum Message from the Dean

The Power of Recognition

Fall 2020
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Recognition is critical to a healthy work and practice environment and even more so today, in these difficult times of the pandemic. While I always had a general feeling that recognition is important, I remember well participating in my first Employee Recognition event at Michigan Medicine shortly after I came here. In the past, we have hosted breakfast or dinner in the cafeteria for our employees, with leaders serving the various dishes in the meal. I was on the breakfast server line, dishing up French toast and quiche to people who work on the front lines of care and in support roles. Their smiles and appreciation were genuine and apparent. Since that day, I’ve had the chance to participate in many such events, and it has been a joy to speak with people whom I would otherwise rarely meet.

But beyond the sense of appreciation in those being recognized, I learned an even more important message about those who work at Michigan Medicine. They are caring, compassionate, and skilled people who have learned the value of teamwork and what a difference that can make for our patients, families, and visitors.

This year, our recognition and appreciation events are all virtual due to the pandemic. While virtual accolades or Zoom gatherings may be more challenging to execute than live events, it is still critically important to convey how we value our colleagues and teams, during dedicated recognition weeks and throughout the year.

The spirit of camaraderie and mutual support is very much alive and well at Michigan Medicine, despite the many very difficult challenges presented by COVID-19. Recently we launched a new online recognition platform that allows for personalized notes to our workforce from colleagues, patients, families, and volunteers. Within the first week, more than 1,200 notes and e-cards filled with heartfelt messages were shared across the organization.

Reading some of those accolades, and the emotional responses, I realized I had underestimated the power of words, however they are delivered. Nothing looks the same in this pandemic, but how we respect and value each other takes on a whole new dimension of meaning.   

In the highly complex and stressful time of COVID-19, it’s even more important that we reach out to our colleagues, peers, and our community, to express appreciation, gratitude, and empathy for each other. It takes all corners of a community growing together to get us through such unforeseen times.   

I encourage everyone to recognize the challenges that individuals face, and to demonstrate heightened sensitivity for how the pandemic has levied on each of us a unique and personal struggle. With virtual education, changes in our work force, evolving best practices, and financial pressures, the weight we carry is significant. Still, seeing and calling out excellence, compassion, and mutual respect for each other allows us to connect personally and support each other in our workplace and our communities. 

Together we will all get through this.


Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, U-M Medical School
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Michigan
CEO, Michigan Medicine

Photo by Leisa Thompson Photography