UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences recognizes nearly 250 graduating health sciences students

In addition to the 74 new medical doctors graduating from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS), the School is recognizing 249 students from its graduate and health sciences programs who are also graduating on Saturday, May 16.

“We want to extend congratulations to all of the graduates of the health sciences,” noted Thomas Mohr, PT, Ph.D., associate dean for health sciences at the SMHS. “Most of all, we want to recognize the impact that health sciences graduates will have on the thousands of patients they will work with throughout their careers.”

Students representing the School at UND’s spring Commencement include not only three graduates of Biomedical Sciences, but also those from Medical Laboratory Science (91), Occupational Therapy (62), Physical Therapy (49), Physician Assistant Studies (28), Master of Public Health (11), and Athletic Training (5).

And despite the pandemic throwing many student plans for a loop, most are on track and excited to be marking the start of health careers.

“I remember coming into the UND OT program my first day not knowing anyone,” recalled Caelin Hansen, a Master of Occupational Therapy student graduating this week. “Little did I know, this program would give me some of the greatest mentors and friends that I could ever ask for. The faculty in the OT program were some of the best supports that I had throughout my three years in the program. Because of them, my supportive classmates, and the opportunities that the program provides both in and out of the classroom, I feel prepared to take on my new role as an occupational therapist.”

Now that the School’s Healthcare Workforce Initiative (HWI) is fully implemented, 16 additional medical students, 30 health sciences students, and a variety of post-MD degree trainees are being educated through the UND SMHS each year, relative to 2011. In addition to expanding SMHS class sizes, the HWI utilizes a number of strategies to help increase North Dakota’s healthcare workforce, including prioritizing accepting students from rural areas of North Dakota, promoting tuition forgiveness for students who commit to practicing in a rural community in the state, and increasing its focus on geriatrics, population health, and public health.

Over the past 50 years, the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences has graduated nearly 10,000 professionals working in the health sciences in North Dakota and around the country.