For Your Health
For Your Health

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

From the Dean: It’s awards season!

In follow-up to last week’s column where I discussed work/life balance and whether a career in healthcare delivery is a calling or a job (I posited that it’s both), last Saturday’s SMHS Medical Student Awards Gala, sponsored by the medical student classes of 2026 and 2027, reinforced the concept that tomorrow’s doctors certainly see part of their future as a calling. This was evident from the enthusiasm, warmth, and caring that filled the Alerus Center ballroom that evening as students graciously acknowledged their fellow students and faculty members who contributed to their growth as future physicians. Their concern for each other was evident, as was their compassion, humor, good spirits, and commitment to inclusiveness. When the students announced the various winners for awards, they were gracious and genuine – and funny!

The event was organized by the UND SMHS Medical Student Social Committee, led by Committee President Shirley Yang, Class of 2026. Each class recognized classmates and faculty members who were selected by the students for special recognition. The Class of 2026 recognized the following award winners:

  • Outstanding Faculty Member – Dr. Jon Allen
  • Commitment to Excellence Award – Gretchen Anderson
  • Peer Teacher Award – Carson Herbert
  • Patient Advocate Award – Mercedes Hoffner
  • Heart of Gold Award – King
  • The Humerus Award – Henry Elsenpeter
  • Kinesin Award – Kate Tomczik
  • The Catalyst – Zach Even
  • Cranial Nerve VIII Award – Michael Burd

The Class of 2027 recognized these additional award winners:

  • Outstanding faculty member – Student Affairs & Admissions office
  • Commitment to excellence award – Cody Boyle
  • Peer teacher award – Cody Boyle
  • Patient advocate award – Freddie-Leigh Griffin
  • Heart of gold award – Jessica Lanoue
  • Eye of the storm – Ian Mills
  • Gold medalist – Brian Olson
  • Picasso – Alexus Meduna
  • Champion of memes – Brian Olson

Perhaps the most poignant of the all the awards was the Outstanding Faculty Member Award that went to Dr. Jon Allen. The award is especially significant in view of Jon’s upcoming retirement at the end of June. Dr. Allen, Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the UND SMHS Simulation Center, was lauded for his long commitment to patient care, medical student education, and especially the use of simulation to optimize the student learning experience. In my own personal experience with Jon, it is noteworthy that I have never – not once – seen Jon show anger, demean another person, or in any way do anything other than the right thing. I’m sure that the entire UND SMHS family joins me in wishing Jon all the best in the next phase of his life!

Finally, UND Founders Day was this week and, as usual, the honorees included many SMHS faculty and staff.

Worth special mention is that Samantha Peterson, assistant professor in the Department of Medical Laboratory Science, was given the UND Foundation/Karleen Home Rosaaen Faculty Award for Excellence in Academic Advising. Congratulations!

Our School also saw several honorees for recognized for their 25 years of service to UND, including:

  • David Bradley, Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Patrick Carr, Associate Dean for Medical Curriculum, Biomedical Sciences
  • Bryon Grove, Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Nasser Hammami, Assistant Professor/CIO, Information Resources
  • Matthew Nilles, Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Stacy Sailer, Laboratory Technician II, Biomedical Sciences
  • Roxanne Vaughan, Professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Steven Westereng, Chair/Associate Professor, Sports Medicine

And our recent retirees honored were:

  • Meridee Danks, Associate Professor, Physical Therapy
  • Schawnn Decker, Associate Professor, Physical Therapy
  • Janet Jedlicka, Professor, Occupational Therapy
  • Mark Romanick, Professor, Physical Therapy

Congratulations to everyone and thanks for your service to your UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

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