From the Dean: Record-breaking year

I am delighted to report the achievement of two records that were just finalized this week. Both are related to financial contributions to UND, and both are especially noteworthy in that they were achieved despite the impact of COVID-19 during the last part of the academic year that ended June 30.

The first marvelous achievement was by the UND Alumni Association & Foundation, which had a record year of philanthropic donations of $80.1 million. This is the second year in a row of record giving. In the prior academic year, our generous donors committed $67.7 million.

The second phenomenal achievement was by the faculty and staff of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences who garnered $30.8 million of sponsored funding to support research along with teaching and service. We have never been over $30 million in the history of the School, and this is a truly outstanding achievement. Most of the funding comes from federal sources, and most of those come from the National Institutes of Health to support basic, clinical and translational biomedical research. I know that you will join me in sincerely thanking the many investigators and others who contributed to this landmark achievement. Congratulations!

On another note, one of the barometers that we use to judge how effectively we are educating our medical students is the feedback that we get each year from a questionnaire distributed to graduating seniors just before they depart for their residency training. The questionnaire is a standardized one that is distributed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to all graduating medical students in the U.S. The feedback that we get from our own students is compared by the AAMC with collated national data. We just got our 2020 results back, and in general we were quite pleased with the feedback. However, one area where we did not fare as well as we’d like is when our students were asked about their satisfaction with the career counseling that they have received. It turns out that students from across the country tend to be relatively unhappy with this aspect of their medical school experience, but our students are particularly dissatisfied. We have instituted a variety of actions to help address this shortcoming.

But we could use more help. If you are a practicing or retired physician, might you be willing to volunteer to chat with a medical student (presumably virtually) about career options and tradeoffs? Students value such advice and mentorship tremendously, and we would be incredibly grateful if you would consider helping our students in this way. If so, please visit this website to enter your contact information and your clinical practice area. We would especially appreciate volunteers who practice in specialty areas that are less well-represented (that is, those other than family medicine, internal medicine, general surgery and general pediatrics). But we would welcome any and all to sign up. After all, we are so fortunate that so many of the physicians practicing in North Dakota have volunteered to be clinical faculty members at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences. Of the roughly 1,800 practicing physicians in the state, more than 1,300 of you are UND clinical (voluntary) faculty members – a higher proportion that in any other state in the country! We truly couldn’t do it without you. So thanks again. And special thanks if you also volunteer to provide mentorship on career selection. Our students will be most grateful!

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