From the Dean: A full roster of residents

The North Dakota Legislative Assembly (aka Legislature) probably has about a month more to run for this biennium. Various bills that are relevant to the School are making their way through the process, and none is more important than SB 2003 (the funding bill for the School and the higher education system as a whole). Fortunately, the news continues to be reassuring, for the most part, for the School (and system, for that matter). We and our colleagues continue to monitor the discussions closely and I’ll keep you informed of any important developments. The fact that there isn’t much different to report than I’ve shared before is very good news indeed, all things considered!

And congratulations again to our 75 graduating medical students who just secured their post-MD residency matches. As I mentioned in last week’s column, last Friday was Match Day when our medical students learned where they will be spending the next three to seven years. To illustrate how things have changed over time, I completed my internal medicine training in two years followed by two required years (I did an extra “elective” year) for a cardiology fellowship (residency). Today, the standard cardiology residency experience would be six years; for those interested in focusing on interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, or other specialized disciplines, even more training would be needed.

In any case, 61 percent of the MD Class of 2021 matched into the primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, and pediatrics. A full 17 percent (13 of 75) of this cohort are entering family medicine, a figure nearly twice the national average of students matching into family medicine.

On that note, all of the UND-based medical residencies across the state also filled, with soon-to-be former UND students and others set to begin post-graduate training in family medicine, internal medicine, and other specialties in-state. That’s a big deal for a state like North Dakota, where it can be a challenge to recruit physicians of all specializations. We look forward to welcoming our alumni back as residents, and to welcoming new resident members of the UND family in June.

Finally, a plea once again to not let your guard down prematurely regarding pandemic precautions. After months of decline, the 14-day rolling positivity rate for COVID-19 in North Dakota has gone up a bit in the past two weeks. The precise reason for this is not clear; while the increase so far has been quite modest, we all certainly hope that it doesn’t foreshadow more worrisome increases in disease prevalence. The two best interventions to reduce the chance of another spike in cases are to continue the public health measures well known to you, and to get vaccinated at your first opportunity. Please remember that getting vaccinated helps to protect not only you but also your family, friends and neighbors. How? By reducing the breeding ground for the virus (us!) and thus reducing the chance that the virus will infect others. Perhaps even more importantly, widespread vaccination reduces the virus’s opportunity to mutate and change to a more sinister version.

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