Fabulous 50: Administrative manager celebrated for half a century at Michigan Medicine

October 17, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Pam Beatty Cuppit, middle, with administrative specialists Barbara Sharp, left, and Denise Brennan.

When Pam Beatty Cupitt first joined the organization, everything was different.

“We had typewriters on every desk and nobody had even heard of an electronic health record,” Cupitt said with a laugh.

It was 1968 and Cupitt had just gotten married a year after graduating from high school. She joined Michigan Medicine as a ward clerk in the Children’s Psychiatric Hospital, a facility that sat on the current site of the Rogel Cancer Center and no longer exists. She spent only one year in that role before taking a position within the U-M Medical School.

Cupitt has been dedicated to the school ever since and will soon be the lone 50-year veteran of Michigan Medicine to be honored at the upcoming Service Awards dinner.

Michigan Medicine will also honor employees — 256 in total — who have been with the organization for 45, 40 and 30 years during the annual program on Oct. 29. The event at Kensington Court will feature entertainment, remarks from Michigan Medicine leadership and, of course, the awards ceremony itself.

Helping students find success

Cupitt’s first role at UMMS was as a secretary in the dean’s office. She eventually moved over to counseling student services, then to the Office of Student Programs and the Office of Student and Minority Affairs, among other jobs.

Finally, in 2010, she took on her current position as the administrative manager for the division of student services in the Office of Medical School Education.

Her responsibilities include assisting M4s who are applying for residency training programs, working with professors who write recommendations for learners, and keeping tabs on MLearning mandatory training sessions for students at every level.

“This role is a challenge — as is every role I have played here at Michigan Medicine,” Cupitt said. “But that means I’m able to constantly grow and learn and I never get bored.”

Cupitt also said she loves working directly with diverse student populations — especially those from underrepresented groups.

“Through my work, I can make their lives a little bit easier and make sure they find success in their studies and in their careers,” Cupitt said. “It’s a unique opportunity.”

Adapting to change

So what’s the key to staying within the same organization for half a century?

To Cupitt, the answer is fairly simple: “You have to be willing and able to adapt to an ever-changing environment.”

That means both physically — she has worked in the former psychiatric hospital, then Med Sci I before moving into her current office in the Taubman Health Sciences Library — and in terms of work processes.

“Change is something this school has always done, it’s what we’re good at,” Cupitt said. “We’re progressive and innovative — from the curriculum to the application process to programming and beyond. And that means that you can’t hold on to what’s in the past, as it will hinder you from moving forward.”

So Cupitt has embraced technology, improved her skill set through undergraduate and Master’s degree programs, and rarely looks backward.

“The only reason I’d look back is to try and learn from my mistakes so that I don’t make them again,” Cupitt said. “The work here is a moving target and if you view it that way, you won’t be blindsided or frustrated by change. That’s how you can stay somewhere for so long and continue to make a difference in people’s lives.”

And it’s why she doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“As long as I’m being challenged, I’m going to keep loving what I’m doing,” Cupitt said. “I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”