From the Dean

Last Friday night, Susan and I had the pleasure of attending the 35th General Surgery Residency Program Graduation banquet hosted by Department of Surgery Professor and Chair Dr. Robert Sticca. The event recognized all UND surgical residents, but especially the five residents graduating from the program. The ballroom where the event was held was packed with residents, their families, faculty, and guests. It was a reminder of the size and scope of the surgery training program and its importance for our medical students and residents. It was fun for us to visit with many of the attendees. Susan knows some of the residents from her work as a full-time cardiologist in Fargo. We were impressed with the accomplishments of the residents, and a number were recognized by the Department for their particular achievements in research and teaching. Best wishes to the graduating residents, some of whom will be doing additional training (such as plastic surgery and minimally invasive fellowships). Most will be starting their clinical practice as surgeons. We wish them all well!

As I mentioned in last week’s column, the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences and the Center for Rural Health hosted the ninth annual Scrubs Academy earlier this week. Scrubs Academy is a four-day/three-night camp for middle school students from around the region. This year, 84 students participated. The academy gives students an opportunity to interact with health care professionals so that students can learn about health-related topics ranging from heart disease to physical therapy. The goal of Scrubs Academy is to encourage students to consider a health care career so that someday they can help address the health care workforce shortages that persist in North Dakota and elsewhere. I did three consecutive heart-related sessions with the students, during which I was ably assisted by four of our SMHS medical students, who took time away from their summer activities to volunteer for Scrubs Academy activities. We had a great time; the visiting students learned about the heart—and we identified several doctors, nurses, and physical therapists-to-be! Many thanks again to my medical student colleagues who generously donated their time and expertise to help our attendees.

Looking forward, the UND SMHS will host a day-and-a-half long event July 8 and 9, 2019, that will bring together local stakeholders and representatives from Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital for a workshop on Strengthening Academic and Tribal Partnerships in the Great Plains. This workshop will connect tribal leaders and representatives from academic medical centers in an effort to forge a collective approach to support tribal health priorities and Indian Country health care initiatives. Congratulations to Dr. Don Warne, associate dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and director of our renowned Indians Into Medicine (INMED) program, for coordinating this event. As you may know, INMED has been instrumental in supporting native students in their pursuit of a medical career for the past 46 years. For more information about the workshop, please contact Courtney Souvannasacd at

Finally, the School hosted an Alumni & Friends Reception for our athletic training alumni who were attending the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s annual convention this year. More than two dozen alumni, colleagues, and spouses enjoyed visiting with each other, commenting how professionally valuable this type of networking is. The SMHS Office of Alumni & Community Relations will continue to host this and similar events.

Susan and I wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July. Due to the holiday, we won’t be publishing For Your Health next Friday, but the SMHS newsletter will resume the following week on July 12, 2019, with a guest column from our Associate Dean for Administration & Finance/COO Laura Block, who will update you on the budget picture for the upcoming fiscal year.

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