From the Dean

You may have read an email earlier this week and/or the Tuesday news release announcing that Dr. Joy Dorscher, the School’s associate dean of Student Affairs & Admissions, has decided to retire as of February 19, 2020. Dr. Dorscher has served the School with energy and commitment since May 2012. During her tenure, she devoted great time and energy to our students to help ensure their success. She also did a phenomenal job as interim director of our esteemed Indians Into Medicine (INMED) program after long-time director Gene DeLorme retired several years ago, and helped ensure the very successful transition that occurred for the current director, Dr. Don Warne.

I am pleased to share that Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences Jim Porter, Ph.D., has accepted my offer to succeed Dr. Dorscher as the new associate dean of Student Affairs & Admissions. I am sure that you join me in thanking Dr. Dorscher for her service and wishing her all the best in the future.

Last Saturday, Susan and I joined several faculty members and staff at the very successful annual Awards Gala hosted by the second-year medical student class. Over 220 students and guests attended the event at the Grand Forks Canad Inn. After a social hour and dinner, the faculty presented awards to first- and second-year medical students in recognition of their contributions to their fellow students, patients, and society. The awards to first-year students were as follows:

  • Peer Teaching Award:  Parker Rosenau
  • Leadership Award: Joe Wood
  • Outstanding Student Award: Leesha Heitkamp
  • Heart of Gold Award: Amanda Palme

Second-year awardees included:

  • Commitment to Excellence: Hunter Huff Towle
    • Presented by Dr. Joshua Wynne
  • Honesty and Integrity: Casey Ricker
    • Presented by Dr. Mark Koponen
  • Compassion: Sarah Pippin
    • Presented by Michelle Montgomery
  • Respect for Others: Christina Krieger
    • Presented by Dr. Rhome Hughes
  • Professional Responsibility: RaMae Harpestad
    • Presented by Dr. Catherine Brissette
  • Social Responsibility: Destiny Nguyen
    • Presented by Dr. Jon Allen
  • Altruism: Kirsten Hagar
    • Presented by Dr. Willie Kemp

I was pleased and honored to have been invited by the students to present the Heart of Gold and the Commitment to Excellence Awards.

The students also recognized six faculty members for their outstanding teaching contributions during the first (Block II) and second year (Block VI) curriculum:

Block II

  • Dr. Jon Allen
  • Dr. David Bradley
  • Dr. Bryon Grove

Block VI

  • Dr. Rhome Hughes
  • Dr. Willie Kemp
  • Dr. Mevan Wijetunga

Congratulations to all!

I should also note that I spent the first three days of this week at the quarterly meeting of the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME), the national medical school accrediting body that I’ve mentioned before. We spent all day Monday strategizing how to make the accreditation process more efficient and productive. One of the very positive developments was our discussion of how to utilize the ongoing continuous accreditation quality improvement process that all medical schools are now required to do (and we were doing even before it became required) to drive an ongoing update to the database for each school. This change is in contrast to the previous process of requiring a massive submission of information just prior to the typical eight-year survey team visit to each school. By thinking about ways to make this transfer of information a more routine activity, and one embedded in our usual administrative activities, the LCME really is trying to improve its own accreditation procedures and processes. So I consider my time with the LCME well-spent, especially when it engages in activities like this that show that the LCME not only asks medical schools to practice continuous quality improvement, but actually expects the organization to do the same itself.

And you may remember a prior column in which I discussed medical student program curricular changes that we are making, occasioned at least in part because of student anxiety and concern about their performance of Step 1 of the national licensure examination (United States Medical Licensure Examination or USMLE). Sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), this exam has irritated students because their scores on that exam play such an important role in their subsequent residency match. On Wednesday, the last day of the LCME meeting, there was an important announcement by NBME and the Federate of State Medical Boards (FSMB) that outlined several changes to the USMLE program, including changing score reporting for Step 1 of the USMLE exam to “pass/fail.” The change will be phased in over the next 11-24 months. Although there are a number of implications to the change, the most important one will be a reduction of medical student angst regarding their Step 1 exam results. You can access the press release announcing the policy change here.

Finally, I want to thank all of the donors who gave to the School on Dakota Medical Foundation’s annual Giving Hearts Day yesterday. While the official giving total for the day will not be available until next week, it looks as though we again did well and will be able to offer at least three $12,500 scholarships to SMHS students to help mitigate their debt. Thank you, everyone!

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