Friday, December 01, 2017

From The Dean

Friday, December 01, 2017

Welcome back from the Thanksgiving break. Susan and I had the thrill of greeting our fifth grandchild; seven-pound three-ounce Cora arrived the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Cora and her mom are doing fine, although big brother Nick is still getting used to the expanded family.

The School hosted yesterday’s meeting of the Interim Health Care Reform Review Committee of the North Dakota Legislature, one of several committees that meets between the biennial legislative assembly sessions that are held in odd-numbered years. The morning session was devoted to a study of North Dakota’s Public Employee Retirement System (NDPERS), and the afternoon focused on studying the status and future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in North Dakota. Both sessions featured testimony from experts along with deliberation by the committee members. But perhaps the highlight of the day was the noon session, where the committee members were the participants in Dean’s Hour. Committee Chair Keiser and the members of the committee were kind enough to answer questions from students, faculty, and staff in the audience about health care in general, and the ACA in particular from the vantage point of the Legislature. The UND turnout was spectacular, with over 200 participants in attendance. In fact, we had to set up an adjacent classroom to handle the overflow crowd. It was instructive to all to see our citizen-legislators in action, and to appreciate just how dedicated, informed, and effective they are. And while the legislative process in North Dakota may not be perfect, it sure sets a high bar for integrity, efficiency, and commitment to do the right thing. It’s great to see the representative process in action—and working! If you didn’t have a chance to participate in person or on-line, a video of the Dean’s Hour is available here. And in place of next week’s Dean Hour, we’ll hold our Annual Holiday Luncheon on the first and second floors of the new SMHS building from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. In addition, the UND SMHS will be hosting Campus Holiday Parties from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at all four campuses as follows:

  • Northwest (Minot) Campus – Tuesday, Dec. 5 at the Holiday Inn
  • Southwest (Bismarck) Campus – Wednesday, Dec. 6 at the Radisson Hotel
  • Southeast (Fargo) Campus – Thursday, Dec. 7 at the Avalon West
  • Northeast (Grand Forks) Campus – Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the Gorecki Alumni Center

Please try to join us if you can.

Finally, I’d like to share some feedback that I just received from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) about our PT program. The review was extremely positive, with a finding that our program is in compliance with all CAPTE accreditation standards and required elements – not a single citation! As a consequence, the program will not be reviewed again for a decade, with the next review scheduled for Spring 2027. That’s an amazing affirmation of the excellence of the PT program. I also was impressed by data provided by CAPTE about the competitiveness of our graduates. In this time of heightened scrutiny of higher education completion rates, CAPTE found that the graduation rate for UND PT students graduating in 2013 and 2014 was 99 percent, as was the licensure examination pass rate for students graduating in 2015 and 2016. And the UND PT graduate employment rate after licensure—perhaps the ultimate arbiter of an educational program’s success—was 100 percent. Congratulations to all in the PT program—faculty, staff, and especially students!

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Mayo Clinic professor of Medical Education, Fred Hafferty, PhD, to speak at SMHS on Dec. 1

Faculty, staff, and students are invited to join Fred Hafferty, PhD, professor of Medical Education at Mayo Clinic and originator of the concept of “the hidden curriculum,” as he leads a discussion about the unseen aspects of health care education and the implications for educators and students from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1 in Room E422 of the SMHS building.

In a session packed with individual and group exercises, discussion participants will explore issues of health professions education and trainee socialization using conceptual hooks such as "Kool-Aid," two contrasting barnyard animals, and the framing of health professions education as an invisible geography to explore UND’s educational practices and learning environments.

To secure your seat at the talk, please RSVP here. Limited slots are available for sign up to meet with Dr. Hafferty one-on-one--just note your interest in meeting in your RSVP.

Hafferty received his undergraduate degree in Social Relations from Harvard in 1969 and his PhD in Medical Sociology from Yale in 1976. He is the author of Into the Valley: Death and the Socialization of Medical Students (Yale University Press); The Changing Medical Profession: An International Perspective (Oxford University Press), with John McKinlay; Beyond Curriculum Reform: Confronting Medicine’s Hidden Curriculum; and the recently published (2009) The Sociology of Complexity: A New Field of Study with Brian Castellani (Springer). He is currently working on a volume tracing the hidden curriculum in medical education. He is past chair of the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association, associate editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and currently sits on the Association of American Medical Colleges' Council of Academic Societies and serves on the editorial board of Academic Medicine. His research focuses on the evolution of the professionalism movement in medicine, mapping social networks within medical education, the application of complexity theory to medical training, issues of medical socialization, and disability studies.

We hope you can join us for this important topic and look forward to seeing you there!

Holiday Luncheon and Holiday Parties at the SMHS

Save the date! The SMHS is sponsoring a Holiday Luncheon to be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7 on the SMHS Second Floor Event Space. Please RSVP to the luncheon here.

Also, The SMHS is sponsoring a Holiday Party on the Northeast (Grand Forks) campus on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the Gorecki Alumni Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For those of you on our regional campuses, the School will host holiday parties the week of Dec. 4 as follows:

  • Northwest (Minot) campus – Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017; Holiday Inn Riverside, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Southwest (Bismarck) campus – Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017; Radisson Hotel, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Southeast (Fargo) campus – Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017; Avalon West, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you at one (or more) of these events! Please RSVP here.

Ruth Paur Retirement Gathering Dec. 11

Ruth Paur, PhD, chair of the Department of Medical Laboratory Science, is retiring at the end of this calendar year. To celebrate Ruth, her accomplishments, and all she has meant to the MLS team, a gathering will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Room E224 of the SMHS building. Please stop by to say "Hello"--or "Thanks!"--and wish Ruth well in the next stage of her life.

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Solberg named chair of Medical Laboratory Science

Brooke Solberg, PhD, associate professor and graduate program coordinator in the Department of Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), has been named the new chair of the MLS department. Solberg, who has been with UND since 2007, will assume the position long held by Ruth Paur, PhD, on January 1, 2018.

“Dr. Paur established such a strong foundation for MLS at UND over the last several years,” Solberg said. “I am excited for the opportunity to help build upon her success and expand the national reputation this program has earned.”

Among other responsibilities, in her new role Solberg (right) will oversee the department’s budget, program accreditation, curriculum, scholarship, and personnel matters relating to human resources and service. She will also contribute to the mission of the department, School, and University as well as the profession of Medical Laboratory Science, mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students on an ongoing basis. Solberg will report to Tom Mohr, PhD, the School’s associate dean for health sciences.

“I know I speak for the other SMHS department chairs when I say that I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Solberg,” added Mohr. “There is a critical need for Medical Laboratory Science graduates nationwide, and our MLS program is poised to play a major role in building the future lab science workforce for North Dakota and the entire country.”

Solberg is an award-winning educator who earned her master’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science in 2007 and doctoral degree in Teaching & Learning in 2011, both from UND. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science, and serves on the North Dakota General Education Council.

In addition to traditional Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree offerings, UND’s MLS program has a cohort program with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and other affiliation agreements with institutions in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Montana. The program has more than 70 clinical affiliates in 15 states and offers programs that issue a bachelor’s degree and certificates in MLS through six different routes of study. The program is one of the largest in the country, typically graduating 90 undergraduate and graduate students each year.

Two SMHS-affiliated physicians appointed to the National Quality Forum’s Rural Health Workgroup

David Schmitz, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), has been appointed the American Academy of Family Physicians’ representative to the National Quality Forum MAP [Measure Applications Partnership] Rural Health Workgroup.

Similarly, SMHS graduate Aaron Garman, MD, medical director and family practice physician at Coal Country Community Health Center (CCCHC) in Beulah, N.D., has been named co-Chair of the NQF workgroup.

Founded in 1999, the National Quality Forum (NQF) is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan, membership-based organization that works to catalyze improvements in health care. NQF measures and standards serve as a critically important foundation for initiatives to enhance health care value, make patient care safer, and achieve better outcomes. The federal government, states, and private-sector organizations use NQF’s endorsed measures to evaluate performance and share information with patients and their families.

“As a practicing rural family physician, I am very happy that this workgroup was created,” noted Dr. Garman. “Rural health care needs metrics that are easily measurable, practical, and important for rural providers and the patients that they serve.”

According to Dr. Schmitz, NQF-endorsed measures are considered the gold standard for health care measurement in the United States. “As health care continues to move toward improving quality and value, having a rural voice from family physicians will help benefit rural people and our communities, right here in North Dakota and across the country,” he added.

The MAP Rural Health Workgroup, with oversight from the MAP Coordinating Committee, provides recommendations on issues related to measurement challenges in the rural population. Additionally, the Workgroup works to identify a core set of the best available (“rural relevant”) measures and identify rural-relevant gaps in the measurement of health outcomes.

A leader in rural health issues, the UND SMHS houses the nationally renowned Center for Rural Health and typically produces twice the percentage of MD graduates entering family medicine—many of whom go on to practice in a rural setting—relative to the national average.

Women needed for Human Nutrition Research Center weight loss study

The Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center is seeking female volunteers to participate in a 16-week weight loss study to determine if when protein is eaten during the day can improve a woman’s ability to stay ‘on track’ with her weight loss goals.

You may qualify for this study if you are:

  • Between age 20 and 44 (you may be older if you have regular monthly periods)
  • Overweight
  • Eating animal products (meat, eggs, dairy)
  • Not taking medications known to affect appetite, weight, or food intake (including steroid-based medications)

The study requires that subjects:

  • Eat a research specific diet (food provided)
  • Come to the Center to pick up food daily
  • Attend weight loss classes
  • Stay at the Center for 24 hours on three separate occasions

You may be compensated up to $820 for your participation.

Sign up for this exciting opportunity online at or call 701.795.8385 or 1.800.562.4032.

SMHS 2017 annual report "Vital Signs" now available

The 2017 edition of Vital Signs, the annual report produced by the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, is now available. The document can be accessed in both physical form or electronically. For those of you who would like a paper copy, but have not received one in your mailbox, feel free to request one or more copies from Kristen Peterson in the SMHS Office of Alumni and Community Relations via email or phone (701-777-4305).

For those looking for an electronic version of the document, you can read it online either at the SMHS website or via the SMHS Issuu account.

Help the SMHS Learning Communities give back to the Northlands Rescue Mission

The Learning Communities housed within the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) are partnering up with the Northlands Rescue Mission (NRM) on its Backpack Program.

While many children who do not have enough to eat at home can get multiple meals per day in the school setting, these same children often go hungry on the weekend. Committed to ending hunger in the Grand Cities, the Northlands Rescue Mission’s Backpack Program provides food-filled backpacks for such children on Fridays so they have food on days away from school.

To assist the NRM with its goal of providing food to families in need, health professions students in the SMHS Learning Communities—including medical doctor, physician assistant, physical and occupational therapy, athletic training, and Master of public health students—are coordinating a “Learning Communities Challenge.” In the challenge, students assigned to each of the eight interprofessional collaboration/study spaces in the School will collect nonperishable food items from faculty, staff, and students, with the hope of collecting the greatest number of items.

“Many students involved in the learning communities have wanted to see a competition like this donation drive for some time, including me,” said medical student Erica Nelson, Learning Community Higher Council President. “The benefit of faculty participation will bring in more items for the children who need it most.”

SMHS faculty, staff, and students interested in donating items for the challenge can deliver them to the Leaning Community of their choice until Saturday, Dec. 18, 2017. Food items will be delivered to the NRM on or shortly after that date. The Learning Community collecting the most items will win pizza for the group.

For more information, contact Michelle Montgomery, MSW, LCSW, wellness advocate with the SMHS department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science at 701.777.5485 or

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