For Your Health

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

From the Dean: Envisioning 2035

This past Wednesday I attended the first strategic planning meeting organized by the North Dakota University System (NDUS) as part of its Envision 2035 initiative. As I mentioned previously, Envision 2035 is intended to expand and extend the system’s current strategic blueprint called Envision 2030. The meeting that was held in Bismarck on the campus of Bismarck State College got off to a great start when North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum offered his perspectives on the future of higher education. As a successful software executive, the governor was quite persuasive in his discussion on the importance of digital and technological space as we move forward. The governor’s comments includes robust coverage of the opportunities and challenges associated with artificial intelligence (AI). He emphasized the importance of strategy driving budgets rather than the other way around, and the need for that strategy to anticipate transformational changes (such as AI). One of his overarching themes was the imperative need to further develop the workforce for the state.

Following Gov. Burgum’s opening remarks, representatives of each of the nine study groups presented their findings and recommendations. Each group was composed of people from the constituent institutions within the NDUS as well as content experts from the community, industry, and government. Our healthcare education group, for example, has representation from five of the NDUS campuses (administration, faculty, and students), state government, North Dakota Health and Human Services, and provider organizations. The nine groups are as follows:

  • Programs of the future: Agriculture
  • Programs of the future: Energy
  • Programs of the future: Digitization
  • Programs of the future: Healthcare
  • Student of the future
  • Teacher of the future
  • Values of the future
  • Infrastructure of the future
  • Human Capital/NDUS workforce of the future

As indicated, I presented on behalf of the healthcare education group. You can see my slides here. As you can see from the slides, our group thought that there are certain themes that will be especially important going forward, including:

  • Interdisciplinary training, including collaborative care
  • Early exposure to healthcare as a career option
  • Building on public/private partnerships to generate or bolster grants/scholarships
  • Focusing on healthy learning and practice communities

We identified nine focus areas to be addressed in the healthcare education component of the NDUS strategic plan:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Limited number of in-state clinical training sites
  • Difficulty in attracting and retaining faculty (especially in nursing programs)
  • Enhanced education and training in virtual healthcare (telehealth, wearable devices, etc.)
  • Enhanced education and training utilizing simulation
  • Expanded public and population health programming
  • Enhanced training in eldercare
  • Enhanced training in behavioral and mental health issues
  • What the pandemic taught us about our healthcare education and training going forward

As far as specific programmatic themes, the following emerged:

  • Enhance experiential training
  • Build well-being into various curricula
  • Expand training of non-traditional care giver models
  • Leverage appropriate telehealth/simulation training
  • Expand cross-NDUS programming and coordination of programs
  • Training and support concerning strengths/needs of current and future faculty, staff, and especially students

In the afternoon, all participants were invited to join one of five cross-disciplinary groups to discuss the various intersections between the nine reporting groups. There was lively discussion that will help to shape the components of the final Envision 2035 plan that will be formalized and adopted in 2024. But I think that all who attended the symposium would agree that we are off to a good start!

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