School of Medicine & Health Sciences confers Doctor of Medicine degrees on new physicians

The School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) conferred the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree on 69 graduating medical students in a Commencement Ceremony May 7.

Along with UND President Andrew Armacost, Dr. Joshua Wynne, vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the SMHS, presided over the 47th Doctor of Medicine graduation event.

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 ceremony’s keynote address, “Intelligence plus character,” was given by Rhome Hughes, M.D.

A former faculty at the SMHS who now serves as an instructional associate professor for Texas A&M University – EnMed, Dr. Hughes contributes to the training of “physicianeers”—professionals who receive both Medical Doctorate and Master of Engineering degrees focused on the design and implementation of medical technologies.

During his time at UND (2018–21), Dr. Hughes was a three-time recipient of the Outstanding Block Instructor Award, a two-time recipient of the UND Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, and recipient of the UND Portrait Award for Outstanding Support of Medical Students.

“This group of students is to be commended for making it through more than two years of COVID-19 – and all the closures, classroom displacements, and patient issues that the pandemic produced,” said Wynne. “It’s been a trial-by-fire for these young physicians, to be sure, and they not only made it through – they excelled! We wish them all the best.”

Following graduation, most members of the M.D. Class of 2022 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, over 40 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, pathology, urology, emergency medicine, psychiatry, and surgery (cardiothoracic, orthopedic, and general).

“Our time in medical school is ending, and although there are weeks that I wouldn’t want to relive—like exam week—there are aspects that I will miss: the support, the community, and most importantly my family in North Dakota,” admitted Rugby, N.D., native RaMae Harpestad, who is on her way to a pathology residency in California. “Reflecting on my experience at UND SMHS, I feel grateful to have been selected to enter medical school, and to be able to continue my journey to becoming a physician.”

View a complete list of the graduates, their hometowns, and their residency programs here.