Donors provide stethoscopes to new med students through Adopt-A-Med-Student program

The UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) Adopt-a-Med-Student Program celebrated its 10th year this week by providing 67 engraved stethoscopes to first-year medical students in the MD Class of 2024.

“It’s awesome,” said first-year med student Ajdin Ekic of West Fargo, N.D., first generation immigrant and son of Bosnian parents. “This is the sort of thing I hope to do for a young medical student some day.”

Having kicked off in 2011, the program is a partnership between the SMHS and UND Alumni Association & Foundation. In addition to providing a vital, and often expensive, tool that will help them through their medical education, the program aims to give students access to a physician mentor early in their training. Donors connect with students via a letter provided with the stethoscope, and share insights and experiences. The connection helps students understand better where medicine has been, and where it is going.

“Especially under these circumstances, it’s wonderful to see what a great community we have here at the [UND] med school,” said Kalli Fautsch, a Rochester, Minn., native whose stethoscope was donated by Dr. Kyle Hoffert of Fairbault, Minn. “I’ve been really impressed with the people here and want to thank my donor for this gift.”

The notion that the School’s supporters are “adopting” students is emphasized by SMHS administrators. Dean Joshua Wynne, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., encourages students receiving gifted stethoscopes to respond to their donor as soon as possible. Ideally, the exchange will serve as the foundation for a lifelong relationship between donor and student, who by the time of the exchange will be familiar with the Hippocratic Oath’s appeal that physicians act as teachers always and “gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.”

“It’s cool,” added Ellen Erie, a first-year student from Fargo, N.D., whose donors were Brent Hella and Michelle Radke. “We haven’t yet received our white coats, so this is the first thing that makes med school feel more real.”

In total, more than 700 stethoscopes have been donated to UND med students by more than 400 individual donors over the past decade.

The program has been so successful that last year it was extended to the SMHS Physician Assistant Studies Program. An Adopt-a-PT-Student Program is set to launch next year.