For Your Health
For Your Health

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

From the Dean: A major gift, a lecture, and a Wacipi

This has been an event-filled week – and the events will continue through the weekend! Things started off with a bang on Monday when the UND Alumni Association & Foundation (UNDAAF) announced a $6.5 million gift to UND from Sanford Health. Tiffany Lawrence, the CEO of Sanford Fargo, was present for the announcement event at the North Dakota Museum of Art, along with UND President Andy Armacost and many others (including me). This impressive gift has two major components – $4 million will go toward completing additions to the Fritz Pollard Jr. Athletic Center, including new weight rooms and sports medicine facilities. The remaining $2.5 million will fund three endowments that will receive a 50% match from the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Grant Fund, with a total of $2.25 million ($1.5 million from Sanford and $750,000 from the Challenge Fund) going to the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences to fund the Sanford Health Human Performance Endowment that will be used for programming in our Department of Sports Medicine. Many thanks to Sanford Health – and especially to Tiffany Lawrence of Sanford and DeAnna Carlson-Zink, CEO of the UNDAAF – for helping to make this fantastic gift happen.

On Tuesday, Susan and I attended the spring meeting of the First District of the North Dakota Medical Association in Fargo. It was fun to mix with a broad spectrum of physicians from the area, many of whom are graduates and/or clinical faculty at the SMHS. Dr. Andy McLean, associate dean for wellness at the School and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, gave a well-received talk on “Individual, community and organizational resilience, a presentation for physician leaders.”

Then on Wednesday, we had about 50 virtual attendees at a talk by our Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning and the Monson Endowed Chair of Medical Education, Dr. Rick Van Eck, who spoke about the rapidly evolving role of artificial intelligence in health education and care delivery. The talk was hosted by the Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship (TLAS) unit of Education Resources at the School. Talk about a rapidly changing field; Dr. Van Eck commented on how some of what he talked about on Wednesday would be outmoded by the morning – and that was yesterday!

This talk was followed on Thursday by a wonderful presentation at Dean’s Hour by Dr. Victoria Haynes, our associate dean for multicultural education, regarding the social determinants of health. She discussed the wide variety of non-medical factors that can directly impact the health outcomes of people. A much-discussed example of this that I find to be quite instructive is 30-day hospital readmission rate. Initially proposed years ago as a measure of the quality of care the patient received while in the hospital during an initial hospitalization, it turns out that the readmission rate is much more dependent on non-medical factors involved during the patient’s post-hospitalization phase, such as the degree of family and community support and the availability of transportation for follow-up visits.

Finally, starting tonight and continuing tomorrow is UND’s annual Time Out Wacipi Powwow, a celebration that highlights American Indian/Indigenous culture. Meaning “a celebration of life,” the Wacipi is held at the Hyslop Sports Center and guests are welcome to attend. Further information is available online. Based on my experiences at many prior powwows, it is a most enjoyable experience. Please stop by, especially if you’ve never been. In conjunction with the Time Out event, the School will honor the Indians into Medicine (INMED) medical student members of the Class of 2024 with a reception Saturday morning. Just as a reminder, the INMED medical students will be joining their colleagues at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, for the M.D. Commencement celebration at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. Congratulations to all the soon-to-be graduates of the UND SMHS!

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