For Your Health

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

From the Dean: The need for more residency and fellowship programs in North Dakota

Yesterday we held a meeting of the UND SMHS Advisory Council in Bismarck. It was a hybrid meeting with some of the participants joining by video link. This was the first meeting with Dr. Tom Arnold of Dickinson, N.D., as chair following the long-time distinguished chairpersonship of Dave Molmen. Dave kindly has agreed to remain on the Council after relinquishing the duties of chair. As I have mentioned previously, the SMHS Advisory Council is legislatively mandated and is composed of 16 members representing a wide spectrum of backgrounds and experience. All are committed to providing the very best advice possible regarding the strategy and operations of your School of Medicine and Health Sciences. I serve as the non-voting Executive Secretary. We are required to meet at least twice each year, and this was our first meeting for 2023 following the end of the legislative session; we likely will hold our next meeting in December.

We discussed a variety of topics, but perhaps most salient to report here was the productive exchange we had regarding potential additional residency/fellowship slots. As you undoubtedly know, doctors are required to complete additional training following their graduation from medical school before they can enter independent practice, usually lasting from three to five years. The initial training (such as I did in internal medicine) is called residency training, and subsequent subspecialty training (such as in cardiology for me) typically is called fellowship training. The SMHS asks for Advisory Council endorsement of all requests for new (or additional) residency/fellowship training slots that are offered under the auspices of the UND SMHS (which constitute all but one of the residency programs offered in North Dakota). I’m pleased to indicate that the Advisory Council endorsed all the requests; this will increase the likelihood that our medical student graduates will match at an in-state residency/fellowship program, thus increasing the likelihood that they will remain in-state thereafter for clinical practice. The Advisory Council only endorses requests such as these where there is a demonstrated healthcare workforce need in North Dakota, usually based on data (see our latest Biennial Report) provided by the SMHS Healthcare Workforce Group. The additional positions that were endorsed by the SMHS Advisory Council include:

  • A new child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship.
  • An expansion of the existing rural surgery residency.
  • An additional (new) residency in internal medicine in Bismarck (currently there is one in Fargo).
  • A new cardiovascular disease fellowship in Fargo.

I’m very pleased to indicate that some of the funding for the new/expanded programs is slated to come from our clinical healthcare partners in the community.

And speaking of the medical student program, ten of our state senators and representatives have accepted our invitation to visit the UND SMHS today for our “M.D. in a Day” program. During the gathering today, we will give the members a taste of what the medical student experience is like. We try to condense a four-year experience into a single day! We’ve done the program before and the response has been quite positive. Although we had to put the event on hold during the pandemic, we are thrilled to have been able to re-start it this year.

Finally, on a sad note, we recently learned of the death of a former faculty member. Dr. Wayne Bruce, formerly professor of Medical Laboratory Science, served as a faculty member for over 30 years at the SMHS before he and his wife Judy, who also was employed by the School, relocated to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where he served as the associate dean for Continuing Health and Professional Education. Wayne retired in 2010 and in 2020 he and Judy relocated to Florida. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, any donations in Wayne’s memory be made to the UND SMHS Department of Medical Laboratory Science through the UND Alumni Association and Foundation.

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