Paying it Forward at the College of Medicine

Frederick Michel, M.D. ’71 has always enjoyed a challenge. He chose to attend Penn State College of Medicine over other, more established colleges because he could see the adventure in being educated at a brand new medical school. He quickly found this new medical school was a perfect choice. “Everything here was in development. There were no interns, no residents, so the medical students became acting interns and worked directly with the faculty.” 

This opportunity to be closely connected to faculty members created a unique learning experience and strong bond with his mentors like Graham Jeffries, M.D. and Ed Hopton, M.D.. These mentors helped guide him toward his interest in the diagnostic work of internal medicine.

When looking back, Michel’s enjoyment of start-ups and challenges is clearly present in his calculated and, in his own words, “risky” career moves. After residency, he and classmate, Ron Krablin, M.D., started a new PHS NHSC clinic from the ground up in upstate New York. Leaving there, he joined a practice that was underperforming, taking the struggling business and turning it into a successful practice. Michel continued with his clinical practice while taking on the role of regional medical director for twenty health centers in ten counties with Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, New York. After eleven years there and another bold move, he took an administrative position at the Lexington Clinic in Kentucky, a financially distressed enterprise, as its first chief medical officer from 1997 until his retirement in 2008.

In retirement, both he and his wife, Judy, a family therapist, taught second-year medical students at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University. Though enjoying retirement, he missed medicine. So, when the opportunity to become the chief medical officer for the Penn State Hershey Medical Group presented itself, he jumped at the challenge.

Michel has come full circle, returning to where his medical career began. He has always been proud of the Medical Center and College of Medicine and has been giving back since graduation, when he began supporting Jeffries’ residents and then the Class of 1971 Scholarship. He has also served as a volunteer and champion of the College of Medicine as the President of the Alumni Society Board.

“I feel it’s my responsibility to give back because of how much my time at the College of Medicine has impacted my career and my life.” Because of their work with students, he and Judy established the Frederick J. Michel, M.D. and Judith E. Michel, MSSW Scholarship in the College of Medicine as a way to leave their legacy and help students pursue their dreams of becoming physicians. They have also contributed to the Graham H. Jeffries Chair in Medicine to honor Jeffries for his work at the Medical Center and his dedication to College of Medicine students.

For the Michel’s their careers have been focused on improving the lives of their patients. “Judy and I want to impact the care of as many people as possible and in turn we support students so they can impact the care of patients long after we leave the medical field. Making these commitments to the College of Medicine became a way for us to leave our legacy and honor Dr. Jeffries, a friend, mentor, and world-class physician.”

If you would like information about leaving a legacy at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine, please contact Devon Dominick Johnson in the Office of University Development and Alumni Relations at 717-531-8497 or ddominickjohnson@hmc.psu.edu.

Click here to read additional stories on the Penn State College of Medicine Alumni Update.