SMHS confers medical degrees on 75 new physicians

The UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) conferred the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree to 75 graduating medical students in a students-only Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 8. Family and friends participated from a distance through the use of live videostreaming.

Joshua Wynne, vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the SMHS, presided.

The graduating students completed four years of medical education to earn their M.D. degree, beginning with two years of instruction on the UND campus in Grand Forks followed by two years of training with practicing physicians who volunteer to serve as their teachers in hospitals and clinics throughout North Dakota.

The faculty address, “An educator to his students: thank you for one last chance to teach you,” was delivered by Walter Kemp, a clinical associate professor in the SMHS Department of Pathology.

The ceremony’s keynote address, “Life, Death, and Humor in Medicine,” was given by Will Flanary, an ophthalmologist, writer, and comedian who moonlights in his free time as “Dr. Glaucomflecken” on social media. Effortlessly blending humor with education, Flanary has spent the past five years informing audiences on a wide range of topics, including navigating the confusing world of over-the-counter eyedrops, the horrifying consequences of sleeping in contact lenses, and his recent experiences as a patient in the medical system. His writing has been featured in The Ophthalmologist and The British Medical Journal.

Following graduation, most members of the M.D. Class of 2021 will begin a post-graduate residency, a three- to seven-year period of advanced intensive training in their chosen medical specialty, before beginning independent practice. In keeping with tradition, well over 50 percent of the MD Class of 2021 matched into primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, and pediatrics. A full 17 percent of the cohort are set to enter family medicine, a figure about twice the national average of students matching into family medicine. Other specialties chosen by this year’s class include anesthesiology, radiology (diagnostic and interventional), neurology, emergency medicine, psychiatry, and surgery (neurological, orthopedic, and general).

“This year’s graduating class has the challenging task of entering the profession in the middle of the worst global pandemic in a century, which also happens to be occurring during a national shortage of health providers,” said Dr. Wynne. “That of course makes these students’ graduation all the more important. We wish them well.”

View a complete list of the graduates’ residency programs here.