Friday, July 20, 2018

From The Dean

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is an organization that represents, advises, and assists all the medical schools in the U.S. and Canada. Schools pay a membership fee to belong to it, and in return get a wide array of services. One of the more useful services is access to an extensive database of information and statistics derived from all member schools. This enables each member school to compare its performance with that of other medical schools in the U.S.

So how do we compare? On average, our class size is at the lower end of the scale; we have many fewer employed faculty members; accordingly, the income that the School earns from the clinical practice of its employed clinician faculty members is low, relatively speaking; and the amount of research funding brought into to the School (often from federal sources) is on the low end of the scale when compared with other (generally larger) schools. Some of these comparisons should not surprise us, given our School’s status as a small community-based school that: does not own or operate its own hospital or hospital system; relies on a distributed model of educating its students through the use of three regional campuses (Fargo, Bismarck, and Minot) and a variety of rural sites, in addition to its home campus in Grand Forks; and utilizes a critically important spectrum of non-employed voluntary clinical faculty members who provide the bulk of teaching to our third and fourth-year medical students.

Nor is it surprising that the data show that our medical school class size has increased by about 22 percent since 2010 as a direct result of the Healthcare Workforce Initiative (which is designed to provide more physicians for North Dakota, especially in rural areas, in part through an expansion of class size), or that the ethnic makeup of our class reflects North Dakota rather than the U.S. as a whole. For example, almost seven percent of our class is American Indian, compared with less than one percent nationally at other medical schools. Again, this is no surprise, since we have identified American Indian and rural students in our diversity policy and have worked hard to include more of both groups in our classes. And clearly those efforts are paying off. The fraction of our class that is American Indian, by the way, is close to the fraction of the population of North Dakota that is American Indian.

Perhaps more informative are some trend data. Over time, there has been an upward trend in the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores of SMHS matriculating students, the number of medical school applicants, and the amount of federal grant support awarded to the faculty members at the School. We are especially proud of the latter (that reflects in particular the fantastic efforts of our basic science faculty), because the SMHS recently has shown an 18 percent increase in direct federal research funding while over the same time period the average amount of such funding at other schools decreased overall by five percent. So, relatively speaking, your School showed about a 23 percent increase in federal research funding over the past five years compared with other medical schools.

Just as impressive is the increase in state funding that the School has received in support of the Healthcare Workforce Initiative. Using the AAMC methodology of fund accounting, if we exclude the most recent adjustments in state appropriations, we have experienced a much appreciated increase in state funding over the past few biennia for our operations. I can assure you that each and every faculty and staff member at the School works hard every day to justify the exceptional degree of confidence the Legislature has in us as evidenced by this terrific level of support.

Finally, I’m especially delighted to acknowledge and thank our many generous donors whose philanthropic support supplements the contributions of the people of North Dakota through legislative appropriations. One measure of the importance of those donations is that the market value of our endowments has increased by almost 50 percent over the last several years. This is the result of the many endowment contributions we have received (like the additional exceptionally generous donation made by Dr. David and Lola Monson that I announced recently), along with savvy investing overseen by the UND Alumni Association and Foundation. As a result of the increased giving by our donors that has allowed us to award more scholarships (along with strong financial support from the state), recently we have been able to decrease the average cumulative debt of our graduating medical students by almost one percent per year (0.7) while during the same time period the average medical school debt across the country increased by almost three percent (2.8). This means that over the last five years, the average debt of our students not only decreased but that the change in their debt level was about 18 percent lower than at other schools (using a compounded averaging method). And having lower debt means less emotional stress on students as they make career and practice location decisions. This translates into more students choosing the much-needed primary care specialties like family and general internal medicine and choosing a rural location for clinical practice.

All in all, I’m quite pleased with what these comparison data show. I’ll have some additional observations in future E-News columns, and will keep you apprised of any important developments.

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

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Liise-anne Pirofski, MD, to give Biomedical Sciences COBRE Host-Pathogen mentor presentation on July 25

At noon on Wednesday, July 25, Liise-anne  Pirofski, MD, will give a Department of Biomedical Sciences COBRE Host-Pathogen mentor presentation entitled "Antibody therapy for pneumococcal pneumonia revisited." The presentation will be held in the SMHS Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium (Room E101).

Dr. Pirofski is chief of the division of infectious diseases at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She received her BA from the University of California and her medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She trained in Internal Medicine at Bellevue Hospital and NYU Medical Center and in Infectious Diseases at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, after which she did post-doctoral training at Einstein.

Dr. Pirofski is a physician-scientist whose research programs are focused on immunity to encapsulated microbes and have advanced understanding of vaccine and antibody immunity. She is a member of the American Association of Physicians and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is an editor of the journals mBio and Infection and Immunity, and has served on numerous advisory committees, task forces, and NIH study sections, including as chair, and was IDSA chair of the inaugural IDWeek meeting.

Dr. Pirofski is deeply devoted to biomedical education, mentoring, and teaching. She has received the American Society for Microbiology William Hinton Mentoring Award, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Faculty Mentoring Award, the Harry Eagle Award for Outstanding Basic Science Teaching at Einstein, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Alumni Association.

Save the Date: American College of Physicians Poster Competition

The American College of Physicians North Dakota Chapter will hold its annual meeting at the Bismarck Event Center on Friday, October 5, 2018.

The annual poster competition associated with the meeting will be held at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo on October 3, 2018. All UND medical students and Internal Medicine residents are invited to participate. Abstracts will be due on September 14, 2018. Additional details about the competition will be available in August.

The meeting brochure can be found here.

Summer undergraduate research poster session to be held at SMHS Aug. 2

Mark your calendars for the 2018 UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Experience poster session. On Thursday, August 2, several undergraduates will present the results of their summer research at a one-day conference to be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the second floor of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) building at 1301 North Columbia Road.

More information is forthcoming via E-News.

Zen in 10 this summer

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.

After a short break this month, sessions will be held at the School from 10:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 31 through August 30 on the East Patio, weather permitting. In case of inclement weather, Zen in 10 will meet in the SMHS auditorium (E101).

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

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UND Medical Laboratory Science students receive scholarships for 2018-2019

The Department of Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences has awarded scholarships to several medical laboratory science students. Funds for the scholarships are given from various private sources, endowments, and scholarship funds.

Scholarship winners for the 2018-2019 academic year include:

  • Carley Rortvedt, West Fargo, N.D., received the Jean Holland Saumur Hematology Award for achieving the highest grade in hematology in the fall semester of 2017.

o Jean Holland Saumur was the program director of the UND Medical Technology program for over thirty years and retired in 1985. This award was established in Jean's honor to recognize the dedication, service, and significant contributions she gave to the University for over forty years. Jean passed away in April 2011.

  • Alex Decker, Grand Forks, N.D., received the Ralph and Hazel Rohde Medical Technology Scholarship Award, which is given each year to UND senior medical laboratory science students who have shown academic excellence. 

o Ralph and Hazel Rohdes’ children had a strong interest in medical science. Two of their sons graduated in medicine, and their daughter and granddaughter graduated from UND in Medical Technology. The Rohdes family established a Medical Scholarship Endowment in appreciation for the opportunities that were provided to their children and grandchildren. Ralph died in the 1980s and Hazel died in 1999.

  • Alexa Gathman, Devils Lake, N.D., received the Miltza Luper Scholarship Award, which is given each year to a UND MLS student who demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in biochemistry and molecular biology.

o Ms. Luper was an assistant professor in the biochemistry department in charge of the medical technology (medical laboratory science) program during the years 1955–1981. This award is given yearly to the outstanding MLS student in the undergraduate Biochemistry 301 course. The scholarship is supported by income from an endowment given by various graduates of UND in honor of Miltza Luper.

  • Courtney Knudson, Larimore, N.D., received the Dr. Cyril J. Dillenburg Memorial Medical Scholarship, which is given annually to a full-time senior MLS student at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.

o Cyril Dillenburg, MD, was the medical director of the University of North Dakota Medical Technology Program until his death in 1984. He was a friend and teacher of numerous students during this period. An award was started by his colleagues and friends to aid deserving medical technology and MLS students.

  • Courtney Knudson, Larimore, N.D., received the Janice Schuh-Horysh MLS Scholarship Award. This award goes to a senior MLS student, with preference given to students from Nelson County, North Dakota.  

o Janice Schuh grew up in Lakota, N.D., and earned her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology degree from UND in 1968. She worked as a medical technologist in Grand Forks and Wisconsin before working at Altru Health System in Grand Forks for nearly 40 years until her retirement in 2011.

  • Mika Bordak, Grand Forks, N.D., and Buffalo, Minn., received the Eileen Simonson Nelson Pathology Award. This award goes to the MLS student who receives the highest grade in the MLS 101 course in the fall semester.

o Eileen Simonson Nelson received her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology, cum laude, from the University of North Dakota in 1955. Eileen began her career at the Department of Pathology in 1956. She served many roles in the department, including assistant professor, histopathology lab chief technologist, education coordinator of the Histotechnology Program, and acting director of the Medical Technology Program. She taught the CLS 101/MLS 101 course for many years and was the major advisor of the undergraduate students in the Medical Technology Program during that time. She was also very active in service work for her profession, having served as president and on many committees of the North Dakota Society for Medical Technology. She also was co-editor of the newsletter for the NDSMT. She did much service work for UND, including serving as an advisor to the Medical Technology Club. Eileen retired in 1994 and still lives in Grand Forks.

  • Kirsten Schumacher, Fargo, N.D., received the Janice and Clifford d’Autremont MLS Scholarship award.

o Janice and Clifford d’Autremont of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., have established the scholarship in their name for an academically eligible student pursuing a degree in Medical Laboratory Science at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. This award goes to a senior MLS student, with preference given to students from the Oakes, North Dakota, area.  

  • Peyton Mattson, Forest Lake, Minn., and Brandon Morehart, Hillsboro, N.D., each received the Marcia and Gary Anderson MLS Scholarship Award.

o Marcia Anderson, the daughter of Ralph and Hazel Rohde, was a graduate of the UND Medical Technology program, now called the Medical Laboratory Science program. Her husband Gary established the scholarship to give to a deserving student pursuing a career in medical laboratory science.

  • Teresa McCowan, Grand Forks, N.D., and Dezi Hultin, Bismarck, N.D., received the Duane and Judy Lee Scholarship Award.

o Judy Lee graduated from the MLS program when it was known as the medical technology program. The award is given to a student earning a degree in medical laboratory science at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

  • Alexa Gathman, Devils Lake, N.D., and Lillie Meduna, Dickinson, N.D., received the Mary Coleman Scholarship Award.

o Mary Coleman, a faculty member in the UND Medical Laboratory Science program established the scholarship award to give to a deserving senior student pursuing a career in medical laboratory science.

  • Emily Christoferson, Grand Forks, N.D., received the Eleanor Ratcliffe Scholarship award.

o This award is given each year to seniors in medical laboratory science who have shown academic excellence.

  • Alexandra Rice, Bismarck, N.D., received the David and Linnea Veeder MLS Scholarship Award.

o Linnea Veeder was a graduate of the UND Medical Technology program, now called the Medical Laboratory Science program. She and her husband David established the scholarship to give to a deserving student entering UND as a freshman and interested in a career in medical laboratory science.

North Dakota Statewide Cancer Registry recognized by CDC

The North Dakota Statewide Cancer Registry (NDSCR) has been recognized as a CDC National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) Registry of Excellence. This indicates that the NDSCR met all CDC NPCR Standards for Data Completeness and Quality. Mary Ann Sens, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the SMHS Department of Pathology, serves as the program director. Lucy Zheng, MD, and Xudong Zhou, MD, of the Department of Pathology operate the program in collaboration with Cristina Oancea, MS, PhD, in the SMHS Department of Population Health, who provides statistical analyses of the data. 

Of the 50 cancer registries supported by the CDC, North Dakota’s is one of only 16 that achieved this recognition. The cancer registry data is available for cancer prevention and control activities at local, regional, and national levels. The state data is included in the annual United States Cancer Statistics report and other analytic data sets. The data can be used to plan and evaluate cancer control programs, conduct research, and monitor cancer trends. Each state’s central cancer registry is crucial to the success of cancer surveillance in the United States. Data is included in the official federal statistics on cancer incidence and mortality, the United States Cancer Statistics (USCS). USCS data are used to assess cancer burden, inform and evaluate prevention efforts, and address disparities. The USCS is produced annually by the CDC and the National Cancer Institute.

The NDSCR also received the Gold Certification from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACR). The evaluation of central cancer registry incidence data recognizes population-based cancer registries that have achieved excellence in the areas of completeness of case ascertainment, data quality, and timeliness.  

Representatives from the North Dakota Statewide Cancer Registry attended the NAACR Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Penn., June 20-25, 2018, where they participated in the official award ceremony.



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