Friday, February 02, 2018

From The Dean

Friday, February 02, 2018

This past Wednesday morning while driving to work, I had the great pleasure of watching the blue moon eclipse while listening to Beethoven’s 7th symphony on the radio. It was a magical experience to watch the majesty unfolding in the heavens while listening to one of my favorite musical pieces here on earth. If you are not familiar with it, the Seventh is a really fantastic composition, with a raucous and energetic final movement that ends emphatically with Beethoven’s first use of a triple forte (fff). His score for the horns in this piece is amazing.

Once the piece had concluded, I mused about the emotional impact the eclipse and the music had on me. I thought about the prior eclipses that have occurred since the beginning of time, and the fact that a musician who wrote a piece more than 200 years ago could still have such an impact on me (and others) two centuries later. It reminded me that we strive to make a difference in what we do and make a difference that will be enduring.

So that leads me to Thursday’s Giving Hearts Day (Feb. 8), when you will have an opportunity to make an enduring impact on the life of an SMHS student. Please consider making a donation to the School’s Giving Hearts Scholarship fund so that we can continue to reduce our students’ debt load. You can have that impact on the life of a student by going to and donating what you can. Thanks to the generosity of the Dakota Medical Foundation and its President Pat Traynor, we now will be able to offer at least three $12,500 scholarships. And for those of you who can make a larger donation, you will have the chance to have one of the scholarships named for you or your family. For each $1,000 donation, donors will get one chance in the drawing for naming rights. The scholarships will be awarded to at least three students randomly chosen from all full-time SMHS students who register by completing a short questionnaire on the website.

And why do I repeatedly emphasize the importance of mitigating student debt through philanthropy? Some hot-off-the-press data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provide strong evidence for the value of reducing medical student debt. The AAMC annually surveys entering medical students from across the country on a variety of topics. Over 12,000 students matriculating this past fall responded to one recent AAMC questionnaire that asked them about various factors that are important to them when they think about their career path after medical school—specifically, what residency and specialty area they are thinking about. The first thing that is noteworthy about the survey results is what the students do not consider important. The two considerations that were ranked lowest by the students were the social reputation or status of a given specialty, and high-income potential. Those factors just weren’t particularly important to most students.

What was important were work-life balance; a stable, secure future; and ability to pay off debt. Taking the two latter items together—stable, secure future and ability to pay off debt—emphasizes why debt mitigation is so important if we want our students to follow their passion and enter specialties that focus on primary care, especially in rural areas. It isn’t that students necessarily gravitate to the high-income-potential specialties, but they are concerned about the possible downside of entering a less lucrative specialty while saddled with enormous debt. So please help us reduce the debt barrier so our students can do what they want to do and not have to worry about paying their bills.

The AAMC data contained another welcome statistic. For the first time ever, the number of women entering medical schools across the U.S. exceeded the number of men. The national incoming medical school class of 2021 that started this past fall is composed of 50.7 percent females and 49.3 percent males. However, while announcing and celebrating this encouraging statistic, AAMC President Darrell Kirch lamented the “glass ceiling” effect in medical schools across the U.S., where only 25 of 149 deans (17 percent) are women, along with only 17 percent of all department chairs.

Here at the UND SMHS, two of five members of the associate dean senior management team and three out of six of our health sciences departmental chairs are women, a 45/55 percent split. Not bad, I’d say, although all but one of our clinical departmental chairs are men. Taken all together, six of 21 (29 percent) of our deans and chairs at the School are women—still not where I’d like it to be, but more than two-thirds better than the 17 percent national rate. And of the 10 people who report directly to me (deans and directors), four (40 percent) are women.

Finally, I hope that you had a chance to attend/see the Dean’s Hour presentation yesterday. UND SMHS alumnus, Center for Rural Health founder, and former UND faculty member Dr. Kevin Fickenscher was our speaker and Visiting Professor for the day. Kevin has been a major player in helping various health care institutions transform their operations and prepare for the future. His fascinating talk was on “The Health Care Transformation Imperative…Embracing the value of Telecare.” If you didn’t have a chance to see this terrific presentation—which one faculty member called “one of the best I’ve ever seen”—it is available here.

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

Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences

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Giving Hearts Day is less than one week away!

Giving Hearts Day is less than one week 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 three $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 (AT, Biomedical Sciences, MD, MLS, OT, PA, PT, MPH) are eligible to win.

Good luck!

Kick-off American Heart Month with Dr. Wynne on Feb. 7

Join UND Work Well on Wednesday, February 7 as it hosts a heart healthy presentation to be given by SMHS dean and UND's vice president for health affairs Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH. Dr. Wynne, a cardiologist by training, will kick off American Heart Month by sharing the determinants of heart disease and tips to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Dr. Wynne's presentation will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in room E419 of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Registration for the event is required and can be accomplished here.

See you there!

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 employees 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. The Montana Nurses Association is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation for approving continuing nurse education.
  • 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.

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

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Block named Associate Dean for Administration and Finance at SMHS; reception to be held Feb. 23

Laura J. Block, CPA, CFP, has been named Associate Dean for Administration and Finance (ADAF) and Chief Operating Officer at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). The ADAF oversees all non-academic operations and procedures at the SMHS and reports to the Vice President for Health Affairs at UND and Dean of the SMHS, Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH.

A reception welcoming Block to the School will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the West Atrium of the SMHS building on Friday, February 23. Refreshments will be served.

In her new role, Block will serve as a key member of the Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean’s leadership team; develop and execute administrative and fiscal initiatives to meet the short and long range strategic planning goals of the SMHS and UND; manage the SMHS financial operations and multi-dimensional business operations that involve four regional campuses across the state of North Dakota; and provide direction and oversight of the functional units within the SMHS Office of Administration and Finance.

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to contribute to the already strong team in place at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences,” Block said. “I’ve been watching the School from afar for a long time and have been consistently impressed with what the leadership here has accomplished for UND and the state over the last decade.”

Raised in North Dakota, Block comes to the SMHS from the UND Alumni Association & Foundation where she had been Chief Financial Officer since 2006. She brings with her two decades worth of executive experience in financial management.

She earned her BSBA degree in Accountancy from UND in 1981 and her MBA from UND in 2010.

Block has been active in the Greater Grand Forks community for years, serving on the advisory boards of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation, Empire Arts Center, Community Violence Intervention Center, and the Altru Health System Community Board, among other organizations.

“We are very excited to have Laura join our senior management team,” added Dr. Wynne. “I’ve known Laura since my first days at UND, and have always respected her integrity, judgment, experience, maturity, and familiarity with the university. Along with the School’s growth in research funding and the implementation of the Healthcare Workforce Initiative, 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 relieved that we’ve been able to recruit Laura to oversee our finances and non-academic operations. I know that she’ll do a great job at the School and for UND.”

First- and second-year MD students recognize faculty for Outstanding Block Instructor Awards

In recognition of outstanding performance in the encouragement, enrichment, and education of tomorrow's physicians, the medical classes of 2020 and 2021 have recognized six faculty for Outstanding Block Instructor Awards in Block II and Block VI of the 2017–18 academic year.

The Class of 2020 (Year 2) Block VI awardees are the following individuals:

  • Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH, UND VP for Health Sciences, Dean UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Walter Kemp, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Pathology
  • Shivu Kaushik, MD, Clinical Faculty (Altru Health System)

The Class of 2021 (Year 1) Block II awardees are the following individuals:

  • Bryon Grove, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences
  • Jim Haselton, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences
  • Benjamin Noonan, MD, Clinical Faculty (Sanford Health)

Thank you to each of these outstanding instructors for their efforts over the past year; their knowledge and skill as teachers of medicine has not gone unnoticed.

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 or call 701.795.8385 or 1.800.562.4032.

SMHS now offers Watson-powered closed-captioning in every classroom

Ever find yourself wondering: “Why can’t the world’s most powerful Artificial Intelligence system provide closed-captioning for the lectures I need to give/view at the SMHS?” Well, wonder no more.

The SMHS Information Resources team is pleased to announce that IBM’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Watson can provide closed-captioning capabilities for lectures given in every SMHS classroom.

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Information Resources has been offering an integrated lecture captioning function for months. Now, however, this function has been upgraded considerably. The new feature is available on demand.

Faculty who would like to explore this option for their courses should contact Information Resources at 701-777-5046 (or email for more information.

To view an example of the Watson closed-captioning in action, click here.

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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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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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