From the Dean

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Last Sunday, Susan and I attended the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony for the first concert in its 2018-19 season. It was a spectacular performance, ending with a fantastic rendition of a Brahms favorite of mine, the Double Concerto in A Minor (Op. 102). The piece features the violin and cello, and the two guest performers (Chee-Yun and Sergey Antonov) truly were outstanding. As we were walking back to our car after the performance, two things struck me. First, the performance was an example of the truly superb quality of life we have in North Dakota. It occurred to me that we should feature that quality of life in a recruitment video for prospective faculty members. Recruiting to North Dakota can be difficult, but a video that features some of the relaxation benefits of moving here likely would help—whether it’s the symphony, UND athletics, the Medora Musical, or visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We should make clear that North Dakota has a lot to offer. So I plan to discuss the idea of a faculty recruitment video with President Kennedy.

The second thing that struck me was a subtle interaction that I noticed between the conductor, Chris Zimmerman, and the new concertmaster, Sonja Harasim (the first violinist). Maestro Zimmerman had ascended the podium and was just about to start the piece when the concertmaster touched his elbow to get his attention. It turns out that the orchestra had not had an opportunity yet to be sure their instruments were in tune. So Chris stepped back and the concertmaster had the first oboist sound the traditional “A” note so that the musicians could confirm the tuning of their instruments. After this check was complete, Mr.  Zimmerman stepped forward and the performance commenced.

This was a good example of the kind of teamwork we are working hard to develop in our health care trainees. The aviation industry has long championed this kind of interaction—they call it crew resource management (CRM), and it stresses the importance of effective communication between crewmembers. One foundational principle of CRM is that anyone in the airplane’s cockpit can challenge the plan of the person “in charge” (the pilot in command) if they believe that another course of action is preferable. Of course, there are rules and procedures as to how this is done; otherwise there might be chaos in the cockpit. But CRM is intended in part to modify and temper the potentially authoritarian environment of an airliner’s cockpit. The same applies to heath care, where the physician can have a similar and analogous degree of power and influence over the health care team. But it is crucial that everyone on the patient care team feels free to speak-up if need be—just as Ms. Harasim did Sunday afternoon.

And speaking of teamwork, we have a new member of our SMHS team in Jeff Dodson, the School’s new director of development, who began in October 1. You might remember Jeff as the former head coach of the UND baseball team. He has been cultivating donors with the UND Alumni Association and Foundation since 2016, and I’m very excited that Jeff will be filling the role most recently held by Dave Gregory, who retired from the Foundation in June. Welcome aboard Jeff!

On another note, I just received more formal feedback about the Continuing Education Symposium on infectious diseases presented at the School during Homecoming 2018. The feedback to a post-symposium survey was decidedly positive—for example, 100% of the respondents indicated that the symposium increased their knowledge. Comments included “great job” and the “program was very well coordinated.”

Finally, kudos to two of our faculty members for the recognition they received recently. Dr. Don Warne, associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, director of our Indians Into Medicine Program (INMED), and director of our Master of Public Health Program, gave the keynote address on “American Indian Health Policy and Social Justice” at a conference sponsored by Harvard Medical School. And Dr. Jacque Gray, research professor in the Department of Population Health, received the Dr. Duane Mackey Lectureship and Award at the Great Plains Behavioral Health Conference held recently in Rapid City, S.D. Congratulations to both!

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences