Friday, January 26, 2018

From The Dean

Friday, January 26, 2018

I am very pleased to announce that Laura Block, the current chief financial officer (CFO) for the UND Alumni Association and Foundation (UNDAAF), has accepted our offer and will start as the next Associate Dean for Administration and Finance at the SMHS on February 8, 2018. We recently interviewed five candidates and invited two to campus for more extensive interviews and meetings. Laura emerged as the clear choice, and I was delighted when she accepted the School’s offer.

I’ve known Laura since my first days at UND, and have always respected her integrity, judgment, experience, maturity, and familiarity with UND. She is, after all, a UND alumna, and knows the institution well. For the past eleven years as CFO at the UNDAAF, she helped consummate the merger of the previously separate Alumni Association and UND Foundation, and greatly strengthened the relationship between the UNDAAF and the university. Before I made the offer to Laura, I received several unsolicited testimonials from people who worked with her at the Foundation, and they were extraordinarily supportive and laudatory.

So we are really excited to have Laura join our senior management team. As associate dean for administration and finance, she will function as the School’s CFO and chief operating officer (COO) for non-academic functions. The administration and finance operation at the SMHS had grown substantially over the recent past, especially with the implementation of the Healthcare Workforce Initiative. Along with the School’s ongoing growth in research funding (thanks to the efforts of our faculty members) and increases in other sources of revenue, the School’s biennial budget likely will approach a quarter of a billion dollars in the foreseeable future. That’s a big operation, and I feel quite relieved that we’ve been able to recruit Laura to oversee our finances and non-academic operations. One of Laura’s great strengths is that she is a team-oriented person who understands the vital importance of cultivating relationships. And one of our most critical relationships is with the central administration at UND. In fact, Laura will have a “dotted line” reporting relationship to UND’s Vice President for Finance and Operations. I know that she’ll do a great job at the School and for UND.

So what operations, you might ask, does the COO for non-academic functions oversee? The menu is extensive, and includes human relations operations (including payroll), finance, budget (including UND’s Model for Incentive-based Resource Allocation, or MIRA), strategic and financial planning, facilities management, clinic operations, residency program financing, and much more. Academic operations are overseen, by the way, by our two academic deans: Dr. Marc Basson, who as Senior Associate Dean for Medicine and Research is responsible for programs associated with medical students and physicians; and Dr. Tom Mohr, who as Associate Dean for Health Sciences is responsible for our non-medical curriculum and programs (occupational therapy, physical therapy, medical laboratory science, sports medicine/athletic training, population health, and physician assistant studies). Dr. Basson also oversees the School’s research enterprise along with the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

I think that we’ve finally been able to evolve an organizational structure that is optimal for the School, but it’s taken us a while to develop. When I took over as dean almost a decade ago, the organizational structure that I inherited had nearly three dozen direct reports to the dean. Three dozen! Talk about a structure that was all but guaranteed to be inefficient, clunky, and slow to adapt! It also ensured that the dean had to be involved in virtually all administrative decisions. I made the conscious decision to change this structure, with the goal of decentralizing decision-making and putting more control and oversight at the unit and departmental level. Since the time of my initial appointment, I have reduced the number of direct reports to seven (along with Jessica Sobolik, Director of Alumni and Community Relations, Dave Gregory, Director of Development, and Judy Solberg, Chief of Staff). Including these colleagues means I receive 10 reports—a big improvement from 34! But even 10 direct reports (a more than 70 percent reduction from what the School had previously) is considered to be a little high based on best practices around the country. For example, as reported by Gary L. Neilson and Julie Wulf in the April 2012 edition of the Harvard Business Review, UND graduate Greg Page, the recently retired chairman and CEO of Cargill, ran the $100-billion-plus company with just six people on his senior management team. So don’t be surprised if over the next few years there are additional efforts to decentralize and flatten our organizational structure. But I’m convinced that with the help of our faculty, staff, and students, working with the senior management team, the SMHS is well-positioned to realize its quest to be the best community-based public medical and health sciences school in the country.

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs

Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences

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Welcome: Hollys Omlid

Hollys Omlid was hired as the new Records and Office Assistant in the SMHS Student Affairs and Admissions office in Grand Forks on January 16. A North Dakota native, Omlid earned her Administrative Assistant AAS degree from Northland Community & Technical College (East Grand Forks campus) in May 2009. In her new role at UND, Omlid will be responsible for gathering, processing, and maintaining student and program data in the areas of admissions, financial aid, and student affairs, including academic and non-academic materials. She lives in Thompson, N.D., with her husband and three children, ages one, four, and 18. Her husband is a Grand Forks Central High School graduate and farms locally with his father and two brothers. When away from work, Omlid enjoys spending time with her children, doing crafts, going on vacation, and helping others. Her supervisor is Dr. Joycelyn Dorscher.

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Giving Hearts Day is fewer than two weeks away!

Giving Hearts Day is fewer than two weeks away! To celebrate, the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) and Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF) have established a special scholarship opportunity for our SMHS students. With our generous donors leading the way, students have an opportunity to win at least one of two $12,500 scholarships to be drawn on Giving Hearts Day.

To support our students and contribute to this scholarship, go to on Feb. 8 and sign up. For our students, we’ll have a table set up on the SMHS second floor, where you can sign up quickly between classes that day. All full-time SMHS students are eligible (AT, Biomedical Sciences, MD, MLS, OT, PA, PT, MPH) to win.

To help you learn more about this special opportunity, Dakota Medical Foundation is offering a free lunch from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30, in the Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium (E101). Representatives from DMF, along with Dean Wynne, will discuss how and why students should participate. RSVPs are appreciated, and everyone who RSVPs will be eligible to win an 8 x 9-inch DMF Giving Hearts Day first-aid kit full of supplies (pictured). Please RSVP here.

And good luck!

Dean's Hour features Kevin M. Fickenscher on Feb. 1

Kevin M. Fickenscher, MD, CEO/Founder of CREO Strategic Solutions, LLC, is the speaker for the next Dean's Hour, to be held at noon on Thursday, Feb. 1 in the SMHS Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium (E101) in Grand Forks. Dr. Fickenscher will give a Dean’s Hour presentation titled "The Health Care Transformation Imperative…Embracing the value of Telecare."

Lunch will be provided for those on the Grand Forks Campus. If you plan to attend in Grand Forks, please RSVP here.

This presentation will be broadcast to the following UND SMHS campus sites:

  • Bismarck, Southwest Campus, Room 2108
  • Fargo, Southeast Campus, Room 219
  • Minot, Northwest Campus Office - Trinity Location

Or, you may view Dr. Fickenscher’s presentation online here.

Dr. Fickenscher graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine in 1978 and trained in Family Practice and subsequently obtained his Board-Certification in 1982. He is a Certified Physician Executive and Fellow with both the American College of Physician Executives and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He received his certification in Coaching and Leadership Development from Georgetown University in 2016 in his effort to augment his individual and team coaching support work, focused on the health care industry.

He recently published a book on leadership--Toto’s Reflections: The Leadership Lessons from The Wizard of Oz--that uses the story of Oz as a metaphor for lessons in leadership. He speaks widely and frequently throughout the world on various topics including the future of health care, the application of technology for driving efficiency and effectiveness in care delivery, and the important role of leadership in fostering and supporting needed changes in the health care industry.

For additional information, contact the Office of the Dean at 701.777.2514.

Health Professionals' Diabetes Workshop to be held in Grand Forks on April 11

Mark your calendar for the Health Professionals' Diabetes Workshop to be held at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks on April 11, 2018.

This one-day workshop, presented by the Altru Diabetes Center, is geared toward the health professional who cares for people with diabetes. Its purpose is to provide best practice recommendations to improve diabetes care in a culturally sensitive way.

Presenters include:

  • Marilyn Gardner, RN, BS, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • William Zaks, MD, Altru Health System
  • James Brosseau, MD, MPH, Altru Health System
  • Tara Feil, PhD, CHI St. Alexius
  • Eric Johnson, MD, University of North Dakota and Altru Health System

A detailed brochure for the event can be found here. The registration fee for Altru employees and students is $25; the fee for non-Altru empolyees is $80.

To register, go here and: 1) Select "2018 Diabetes Conference," and 2) input username "Diabetes" and password "2018Conf." Pre-registration required by April 2, 2018. Lunch will be included for pre-registered participants only.

Providers--this workshop counts toward your Continuing Medical Education requirements:

  • Dietitians/Dietetic Technicians: This program has been submitted to the Commission on Dietetic Registration for continuing education approval.
  • Nurses: This activity has been submitted to Montana Nurses Association for approval to award contact hours. Montana Nurses Association is accredited as an approver of continuing nurse education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.
  • Physicians: Altru Health System is accredited by the Minnesota Medical Association to provide continuing medical education for physicians. Altru Health System designates this live educational activity for a maximum of 6 hours AMA PRA Category 1 credits. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Contact for more information.

Zen in 10 in the New Year

Zen in 10 focuses on stretching, breathing, and having fun with coworkers. Go back to work with less stress, more energy, and better body functioning.

Sessions will be from 10:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays until March 1 in Classroom W201 at the SMHS in Grand Forks. (Note that Zen in 10 will not be held on Tuesday, Jan. 30 or Thursday, Feb. 1.)

Services provided by Kay Williams, Certified Yoga and Relax and Renew Instructor®.

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Rick Van Eck to present for AMA Innovations in Medical Education webinar on Jan. 29

Richard Van Eck, PhD, Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning at UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), has been asked to be one of three presenters at the upcoming American Medical Association (AMA) Innovations in Medical Education webinar. Dr. Van Eck is the SMHS Founding Dr. David and Lola Rognlie Monson Endowed Chair for Medical Education. The live webinar will be held on Monday, January 29, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (CST) and is featured on the AMA Web site.

More than 200 people are already registered for this free public webinar. Dr. Van Eck will present on the Remotely Operated BiOmedical Telepresence Systems (ROBOTS) research project, which uses three longitudinal chronic disease continuity-of-care Interprofessional Education (IPE) simulations that train students in the use of telemedicine to treat myocardial infarction, and the resulting health outcomes of a single patient. This project, proposed by Drs. Van Eck, Gwen Halaas (retired), Jon Allen, and Eric Johnson, helped to earn the SMHS membership in the AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium of medical schools in 2015. Dr. Van Eck will present on the work of the team now that all three scenarios have been designed and the study has been implemented with 273 SMHS students from five health care professions during three simulation runs in November and December 2017.

IPE has been a priority at the SMHS in recent years, particularly with the dedication of the new building, which was intentionally designed to maximize active learning and interprofessional education among the health professions.

"I think we have tremendous potential and opportunity for even more IPE in formal and informal ways at SMHS, and given our current efforts to redesign our curriculum around the new competencies adopted in 2017, this will be an area of growth and energy over the next year," Van Eck said. "Under Dean Joshua Wynne and Associate Dean Ken Ruit’s leadership, Dr. Eric Johnson and Ms. Michelle Montgomery, MSW, LCSW, have been making significant strides in organizing and providing IPE experiences across the entire school, and we are all looking forward to the future of IPE at SMHS."

Arielle Selya wins Early Career Award from UND Division of Research & Economic Development

Arielle Selya, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Master's of Public Health Program at the UND SMHS, has been given an Early Career Award by UND's Division of Research and Economic Development. The award, which totals more than $17,000, was given for Selya's proposal “Are e-cigarettes replacing or expanding conventional cigarette use in youth?” The project examines the impact of the recent and very rapid rise in e-cigarettes among youth.

According to Selya, because the e-cigarette trend is so recent, it’s unclear what its implications are on tobacco use. Some researchers are concerned that e-cigarettes may promote tobacco use among adolescents by getting them "hooked" in the first place, while other researchers argue that e-cigarettes may be a net benefit from a harm reduction point of view because e-cigarettes--though not entirely safe--don’t have the combustible component that makes cigarettes especially harmful to health.

"One of the difficulties in distinguishing between these two competing theories is that it’s very difficult to account for all of the other risk factors for tobacco use, such as risk-seeking behavior," Selya said. "In other words, would kids who initiate with e-cigarettes have gone on to smoke conventional cigarettes anyway due to other unrelated risk factors? Or do e-cigarettes increase that risk over and above these other risk factors?"

Selya's project will analyze data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey since 2011 to determine which of these hypotheses is supported by the data, using an approach that will rigorously account for each person’s propensity for tobacco use, and will test whether e-cigarette use poses an additional risk for conventional smoking.

Selya earned her BA in Physics from Cornell University in 2005 and studied neuroscience at the Rutgers University Integrative Neuroscience Program, which awarded her a PhD in 2011. She has been with the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences since 2014.

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Great Plains IDeA-CTR Institutional Coordinator to speak at Biomedical Sciences Seminar Jan. 31

You are invited to the next Biomedical Sciences Seminar Series event, featuring Ted R. Mikuls, MD, MSPH, vice chairman of Research and Umbach Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. Mikuls will present a talk titled “Biorepositories in Clinical Translational Research” at the SMHS Department of Biomedical Sciences Seminar Series on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, at noon in SMHS Room E101. For more information about Dr. Mikuls’s biography, see his CV here.

Dr. Mikuls is also the Institutional Coordinator for the Great Plains IDeA-Clinical Translational Research (CTR) grant. The Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network is a collaborative effort between nine institutions in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota (including the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences), and Kansas to reach the medically underserved populations in these states and transform health delivery and outcomes in the Great Plains region.

Everyone is welcome.

Evidence-Based Teaching group to meet on Feb. 6

The Evidence-Based Teaching (EBT) group will meet at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6 in SMHS room W202.

The meeting topic for this session is "Active Learning Applied: Simple Strategies for Complex Content." The session will be led by Richard Van Eck & Adrienne Salentiny, Education Resources, and Devon Olson, Library Resources.

Do any of these teaching problems sound familiar to you?

  • Students can memorize facts but can’t see the big picture.
  • I don’t know how to get students to master concepts and apply them.
  • What I’m teaching is often too complex for my students, but they have to master it.
  • Students seem to “get” what I’m teaching, but then fail parts of some tests.
  • My students always want to know the “right” answer, but sometimes it’s not that simple!

These and many other problems can be addressed through evidence-based teaching strategies like Active Learning, which has been shown to be effective. For many, however, active learning is synonymous with flipping the classroom. While a flipped classroom can be effective, there are dozens of much simpler active learning strategies for solving individual teaching problems.

In this interactive session, we’ll show you techniques that anyone can use without overhauling the entire course! Whether you’ve experienced the problems above or have your own concerns to share during the session, join your colleagues to hopefully leave with at least one potential solution!

The Evidence-Based Teaching group meets monthly at the same time. This group will host topics as determined by its members. It is free and open to anyone—no RSVP needed! If you are interested in anything related to Evidence-Based Teaching (assessment, online learning, precepting, active learning, simulation, ADA compliance, or any topic you see fit), join us and let us know what you’d like to see at future meetings. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Adrienne Salentiny at 701.777.4272 or

Sameera Rasheed presents Psychiatry Grand Rounds on Feb. 7

Sameera Rasheed, MD, will present "Use of Antidepressants in Pregnancy” from 12:10 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7, at the SMHS Southeast Campus auditorium in Fargo. Dr. Rasheed is a third-year resident in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. James L. Roerig, Pharm.D., BCPP, professor in the UND SMHS Psychiatry Residency Training Program, will service as Dr. Rasheed’s discussant.

The objectives of Dr. Rasheed's talk are the following:

  • Review risk factors for antenatal depression
  • Discuss limitations of data regarding antidepressant use during pregnancy
  • Advise patients about antidepressant use in pregnancy
  • Discuss decision-making process with patients    

This grand rounds presentation, sponsored by the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the School’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, is broadcast via videoconference to many sites throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. It can also be streamed via personal computers. If you want information on how to attend or view the event, please contact Betty Jo Tostenson at 701.293.4101 or

The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences designates this live activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.  Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

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Great Plains IDeA-CTR calls for proposals for three grant programs with a deadline of Jan. 31

The Great Plains IDeA-CTR, a coalition of nine research institutions that includes both the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University, has posted calls for proposals connected to three clinical-translational research programs: Cancer Related Research, the Biomedical Informatics Big Data Pilot Program, and the Community-Academic Partnership Program. Each of the grant programs have a submission deadline of Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. More information on the specifics of each proposal can be found by clicking on the links below.

The Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network was created by a $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha (UNMC), the largest grant in the center’s history. Funding for the network is provided through the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program and the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Studies. The network will focus on developing early career researchers into independent scientists and increasing the infrastructure and other resources needed to support clinical/translational research (CTR) around the region.

Great Plains IDeA-CTR develops Practice-based Research Networks directory

Practice-based Research Networks (PBRNs) are networks of clinicians and practices collaborating to answer health care questions that turn research findings into practice. While still treating patients as a typical clinician or practice would, PBRNs have taken the additional opportunity to explore issues related to improving patient care. Some PBRNs conduct research in specific areas such as rheumatology or mental health while others are more generalized and study quality improvement activities or access to care. Regardless of the area of study, PBRNs have integrated practice and research to address major issues in the realm of health care.

Over the last decade, the number of PBRNs in the U.S. has grown substantially to help meet the needs of an ever-changing health care environment. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is a national organization tasked with providing evidence to “make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable." This mission includes reporting on PBRNs, providing tools and resources, hosting events, and maintaining a registry.

As part of the Great Plains IDeA-CTR's charge to improve the research infrastructure in the Great Plains region, we seek to increase the visibility of folks on the frontline of health research and support their work. For this reason, we have developed a PBRN directory to discover local PBRNs, find out what kind of work they do, and track their progress. And of course, there are opportunities for collaborations with these networks as well; most of our PBRNs have their contact information included in the directory.

For more information about the Great Plains IDeA-CTR or its PBRN directory, see the network's newsletter here.


UND Center for Host-Pathogen Interactions calls for research proposals due Feb. 15

In anticipation of the third year funding, the Center for Host-Pathogen Interactions at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences invites applications for pilot studies to support research that fits well within the scientific theme of our NIH funded Center For Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE). This competition is open to all full time, tenured, tenure-track, research-track, and/or clinical-track faculty at UND. The goal of this Pilot Project Program is to promote new research in the field of host-pathogen interactions and extend the current research into novel directions with high potential for future COBRE projects and for acquiring R-grant type extramural funding support. It is expected that this program will attract investigators into the research area of host-pathogen interactions, foster new collaborations among new and existing investigators, and promote the utilization of flow cytometry, imaging, human cell core, and histopathology core facilities supported by COBRE.

Applications due February 15, 2018, for an anticipated project start date of June 1, 2018. For more information, see the full call for proposals here.

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