From the Dean: Dual degree programs benefit students

Our burgeoning public health program, under the leadership of Dr. Don Warne, has achieved yet another milestone – a dual degree offering with UND’s School of Law. Although there are other universities that offer similar dual degree programs, our new program is the only one of its kind in the Dakotas, and the only one to be found from the Red River to Washington state. Here’s what I said in the announcement that we released recently that highlights my high regard for joint programs like this: “As someone who has advanced degrees in fields separate from but related to medicine – specifically, public health and business administration – I know personally the benefits that dual degree programs afford students. This is an exciting development for UND and, most importantly, for our students.”

And speaking of students, one of our former students – physician assistant (PA) graduate Christina Brooks – was featured in articles that ran recently in local newspapers the Grand Forks Herald and the Bemidji Pioneer. As the articles point out, Mrs. Brooks decided to pursue a career as a physician assistant rather than as a doctor and enrolled in our two-year Physician Assistant Studies Program. Balancing family life with professional responsibilities was a major issue for her, and she decided that being a PA would afford a better balance. Because of the School’s emphasis on primary and rural health care, Christina completed a two-month rotation at Nelson County Health System in McVille, N.D. After she graduated in 2018, she joined that health system and has been employed there since.

Another student in the news recently is Veronica Harrison, a third-year medical student, who wrote an op-ed piece for the Jamestown Sun on the dangers associated with e-cigarettes. These devices have become far too popular with young people, and Ms. Harrison urges caution. The editor of the newspaper included the following as a postscript, which, I think, it says it all: “Veronica Harrison is a third-year medical student at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences. She was selected as the Jamestown participant for the school’s ROME program, or Rural Opportunities in Medical Education. The program includes teaching student doctors the importance of rural newspapers. As a future rural healthcare leader, Harrison has written this column to provide health information for her ROME community.” Pretty impressive, don’t you agree?

These two young professionals demonstrate why we are so proud of our medical and health sciences programs, and the excellent quality of our students and graduates. That’s why stories like these are so heart-warming. As I like to say about our beautiful new instructional and research building on the Grand Forks campus, “as beautiful and functional as the building is, what is truly amazing is what goes on inside the walls of the building.”

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