For Your Health
For Your Health

News from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences

From the Dean: Legislatures, curricula, strategic plans

Two noteworthy events directly related to the UND SMHS took place yesterday. The first was a curriculum retreat to review the medical student curriculum and assess how optimally it is preparing the future doctors we are educating. This year’s meeting was especially important since we are in the midst of full implementation of the major curricular revision that has been introduced in segments over the past few years. The curricular revision was designed to address four issues that have been raised by students and faculty alike: 1) the need for more time in the curriculum to allow students to better sample different specialties of medicine as an aid to their own career choices; 2) the need for enhanced preparation and study time for the national exam that is intended to be the foundation of state medical licensure, but has become a metric for assessing student competitiveness in a given medical specialty; 3) more time for clinical electives; and 4) greater integration of the clinical sciences into our preclinical curriculum and of basic science principles into the clinical experience.

I think that most attendees at the medical curriculum retreat concluded that medical program curricular revamping largely has achieved its goals. However, we need to continue to fine tune the curriculum and are working to do so in an active collaboration that is driven by both student feedback and objective outcomes data. As I’ve discussed in prior columns, it is unfortunate that we implemented the curricular changes just as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but the changes were needed and appropriate. All things considered, the hard work that has gone into this major curricular upgrade has largely paid off and resulted in a much-improved curriculum – and the prior one was pretty strong to begin with!

The other event was a meeting of the interim Higher Education Committee of the North Dakota legislature that took place this year on the UND campus. As is the tradition, the committee requested a presentation by the UND SMHS Advisory Council regarding the strategic plan of the School, and an update on its activities, programs, and facilities. Dave Molmen, chair of the UND SMHS Advisory Council, presented on its behalf. Here is a copy of the slide deck Dave used in his presentation. You will notice that the School’s strategic plan is modeled on that of UND, with the addition of an eighth goal devoted to healthcare workforce issues. Note that in the next iteration of UND’s strategic plan, due out by the end of 2022, workforce issues in general (and not just those related to the healthcare enterprise) are being given much more emphasis and focus. As we did with the OneUND Strategic Plan that was released in 2017, the UND SMHS will formulate its strategic plan based on the new UND document that will be released by the end of 2022. We will then spend 2023 updating our strategic plan and ensuring that ours is congruent with the UND plan. Accordingly, the UND SMHS strategic plan traditionally lags behind the UND plan; to wit, OneUND was effective from 2017-2022, and the UND SMHS strategic plan runs from 2018-2023. The expected time frames going forward will be 2023-2028 for the UND plan, and 2024-2029 for the UND SMHS strategic plan.

A lot of work across campus has been devoted to an updated strategic plan draft document and extensive focus-group input has been received. We anticipate that a full draft document will be released to the UND community for comment and feedback in the near future. Once the faculty, staff, and students have an opportunity to review that document, we will be in a better position to start conceptualizing proposed modifications and updates to the UND SMHS strategic planning document.

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