From the Dean

This past Wednesday, Susan and I attended a fun event—the second annual Longest Table get-together held on University Avenue in Grand Forks. It was an opportunity for those in the greater Grand Forks community to come together for talk, music, and supper. It was quite a sight—there were 127 tables lined up in a row on University Avenue east of Columbia Road. Nearly 900 people attended the gathering, and everyone seemed to enjoy the lovely evening. We sat at a table with 10 others, none of whom we knew at the start of the evening. But we certainly were friends by the end of the event! There were people from all walks of life, including UND students. In fact, two of the people at our table were freshman UND students. The gathering served at least two important functions: one, it was a great way for people from the region to come together, get to know each other, and learn about each other. Second, we all completed a survey with questions on what could be done to make the greater Grand Forks region even more attractive and enjoyable for residents and prospective residents (like faculty and students who are being recruited to UND). The event clearly emphasized several points that Governor Burgum talks about—the need for walkable towns and cities, and the need to have vibrant community activities to attract and retain folks in the region. Since the School is so focused on service to—and being part of—the greater North Dakota community, this was a great way for some of us from the SMHS to connect (and reconnect) with folks from the greater Grand Forks community, many of whom are not typically connected to the University. If you didn’t have a chance to attend this year’s event, I would urge you to come next year. I’m pretty sure you’ll find it to be a fun event—just as Susan and I did.

And then yesterday the School held its annual Adopt-a-Med Student Luncheon. We first held this event in 2011, and it has become a successful annual event during which we present stethoscopes to the first-year medical students. The cost of each stethoscope is defrayed by donations from dozens of donors; but perhaps more importantly, each donor is paired with the recipient student and student and donor then interact, usually indirectly through letters and emails but sometimes in direct discussion. Since many of the donors are physicians (and usually UND SMHS graduates), some of the donors subsequently become advisors and mentors to the new students. When we first started the program, we had to scramble to get enough donors to cover the cost of the stethoscopes, but the program has become so popular that we are now fully subscribed—in fact, for the past several years we have been able to carry forward some of the donations into the next year. So a big “thank you” to all who have participated; the stethoscopes are valued by the students, but even more, the students greatly appreciate that the donors are vested in their success and offer the possibility of establishing a relationship with a potential mentor and advisor early in their medical careers.

Incidentally, following the success of the Adopt-a-Med-Student Program, our Office of Alumni & Community Relations is launching an Adopt-a-PA-Student Program in conjunction with the Department of Physician Assistant Studies’ 50th anniversary, to be celebrated in 2020. Interest in the new program has been high, and we’re hoping to replicate the success of the medical students’ stethoscope program for our PAs. If you’re interested in contributing to the Adopt-a-PA-Student Program, feel free to call the Office at 701.777.4305 or email jessica.sobolik@UND.edu.

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