For Your Health
For Your Health

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

From the Dean: It’s Match Day!

You may have heard about recent legislative action regarding an important component of the funding for the UND SMHS. In 1948, the people of North Dakota voted to approve an amendment to the North Dakota Constitution to provide SMHS with dollars raised via a mill levy to help us finance our operations. A mill levy is a tenth of a percent of the property taxes collected statewide, and for the SMHS this levy currently produces almost $5.5 million each year for School operations. There are two issues, though, with this method of funding that some taxpayers find problematic – hence the recent legislative action. First, and most importantly, property taxes typically support local functions and operations like public schools – not state-wide projects like the SMHS. The second issue is that the SMHS is the only state agency that receives funding through this mechanism. Both of these issues likely played important roles that led to the North Dakota Legislature’s recent effort to examine the mill levy dedicated to the SMHS. To be sure, legislators have made it clear that they have no intention of reducing funding for the School – rather, the issue is solely the method of funding. As the Grand Forks Herald reported recently, “the resolution’s sponsor, Sen. Jordan Kannianen, R-Stanley, said its intention is not to defund the medical school, but rather to shift the source of funding from property taxes to the general fund.”

We have been in contact with legislative leaders to work on developing alternate funding to replace the levy dollars using appropriated general funds (assuming that the measure to eliminate this levy is ultimately approved), just as is done for the rest of our state-sponsored funding. Fortunately, we do have some time to work on a fix, because the recently approved action – the Senate’s approval of what is called a concurrent resolution – requires agreement from the House of Representatives before it goes to the voters during the 2024 election cycle. Only if this change is approved by the voters – since it would be a constitutional amendment – would it go into effect, starting on January 1, 2025. So, stay tuned!

The other big news is that today is Match Day, when our soon-to-be graduating medical student seniors learn where they will be spending the next three to five years for their post-MD residency training. Match Day is the result of the efforts of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) that coordinates the “matching” of roughly 43,000 applicants to roughly 40,000 residency slots across the country. The algorithm that the NRMP uses has been quite successful over the years in ensuring that a given candidate is matched with the program that is highest on the student’s preference list, as long as the program has a slot available, thus emphasizing the student’s preferences in the selection process. By the way, the underlying concept behind the NRMP’s matching algorithm culminated in the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics (technically the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel) that was awarded to economists Lloyd Shapley and Alvin Ross. Our medical students – and we – learn of the match results at 11 a.m. today. I should add that despite the fact that Match Day has been growing more competitive every year – with new medical schools opening and existing medical schools (including the SMHS!) expanding to produce more young MDs for a relatively static number of residency slots available nationwide – our students typically perform very well. Many of our students will be gathering at each regional campus to share their exciting match news, and we will be posting the results of the match soon after they become available. Best of luck to all of our graduating medical students!

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