For Your Health
For Your Health

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

From the Dean: Student, faculty, and staff awards season

What an exciting and wonderful week! As I outlined in last week’s For Your Health column, last Saturday we graduated 75 senior medical students as the newest graduates of the UND SMHS. And tomorrow we will graduate nearly 230 more health professions students during UND’s graduate (morning) and undergraduate (afternoon) commencement ceremonies. These graduates-to-be represent a wide spectrum of our health-focused programs including occupational and physical therapy, medical laboratory science, physician assistant studies, athletic training, biomedical sciences, master of public health (MPH), Indigenous health, and others.

Later this afternoon I’ll be joining the soon-to-be health sciences graduates in a variety of events. First up will be a reception for the MPH graduates at the North Dakota Museum of Art, followed shortly after by a hooding ceremony for the occupational therapy seniors, followed by a hooding ceremony for the physical therapy graduates. In between these events I hope to drop by the celebration for Werner Nistler and his wife Colleen in recognition of his naming as an honorary degree recipient. The Nistlers of course have been extraordinarily supportive of UND – and the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration is named in their honor.

It isn’t only students we are recognizing this week. Students excel mainly through their own hard work, of course, but also because of the efforts and support from UND’s staff and faculty. On Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending the annual UND Staff Recognition luncheon, during which UND recognized the many staff members who have made significant contributions to UND. I was honored to be on hand to represent the UND SMHS as we recognized our staff who have been with the School for five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, and thirty-five years (see the program here)! Thirty-five year honorees from the SMHS were Julie Arnold (Center for Rural Health), Susan Carlson (Administration & Finance), Tonya Murphy (Surgery), and Allison Ranisate (SMHS Library Resources). Also recognized was Zauna Synnott, department manager in our Department of Indigenous Health, who was honored with one of the Meritorious Service Awards given in recognition of individuals who serve the University and community through a combination of outstanding job performance, stellar relationships with associates, and actions that support the missions and values of the University. Zauna actually was nominated for the award by several SMHS students.

Finally, we recognized some of the faculty members who contribute so importantly to the education of our students. Of particular note are the following recipients of this year’s Dean’s Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Volunteer Faculty who are so important in the education of our medical students:

  • Lacey L. Armstrong, M.D. – Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Sanford Medical Center, Bismarck, N.D.
  • Douglas J. Hess, D.O. – Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Prairie St. John’s, Fargo, N.D.
  • Jennifer K. Johnson, M.D. – Clinical Instructor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Trinity Health, Minot, N.D.
  • Sunil R. Kartham, M.D. – Clinical Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine, Altru Hospital, Grand Forks, N.D.
  • Nolan M. Kleinjan, M.D. – Clinical Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine, CHI Dickinson Medical Center, Dickinson, N.D.
  • Mallory Koshiol, M.P.H. – Clinical Instructor, Internal Medicine, Allina Health, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Stephen T. Linn, M.D. – Clinical Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Essentia Health, Fargo, N.D.
  • Sadie Schmidt, M.D. – Clinical Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Sanford Children’s Hospital, Fargo, N.D.
  • Kate A. Syverson, M.S.W. – Clinical Instructor, Internal Medicine, Sanford Health, Fargo, N.D.

I should also take the time to recognize Dr. Leah Thompson, staff psychiatrist at Southeast Human Service Center and clinical faculty for our SMHS Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, who was recognized last Saturday by the medical students as the “best preceptor in the state” for last year. As such, the Preceptor Recognition Student Scholarship was given in Dr. Thompson’s name to a rising third year student with the best preclinical academic performance, in this case, Lindsey Martens. This program allows us to recognize excellence among both our voluntary clinical faculty and our students, and was created by a generous gift from an anonymous donor. Anyone interested in contributing to this fund to help grow the program can get more information about how to contribute here.

As a community-based institution, the School could not carry out its educational mission without the dedication and sacrifice of these and other voluntary faculty members. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated physicians from across North Dakota who teach our medical and health sciences students. Thank you!

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