The medical school Class of 2021 has started its studies! The class is entering the medical profession at a particularly exciting time in healthcare—and I’m not referring to the health insurance debate. Rather, I’m talking about the phenomenal opportunities these students will have to positively impact the lives of their patients when they complete their medical school studies in 2021. In my own field of cardiology, for example, the mortality rate from heart disease and stroke has fallen by about three-quarters in the past four decades. During their time here with us over the next four years, our students will learn about the importance of various modifiable risk factors for disease—and what to do to help patients modify those factors under their control (like diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and conscientiously taking medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol). I distinctly remember my first day of medical school years ago, and still share the students’ excitement as their journey begins.
Susan and I have the pleasure and honor of jointly delivering the Dr. David and Lola Rognlie Monson Lecture address to this freshman medical school class later this afternoon at the White Coat Ceremony. We’ve chosen the topic, “A View from Both Sides: Marriage and Medicine in a Changing Social Environment,” to reflect our experiences over the past several decades as a married professional couple. And my, have times changed! When I entered internal medicine residency training years ago, there were 12 fellow interns who were men, and only one woman—a 93 percent to 7 percent ratio, while our entering medical student Class of 2021 is composed of 37 men and 42 women, which is a 47 percent to 53 percent ratio. What a change that represents. If you can make it, we’d be happy if you can join us for the White Coat Ceremony that will be held later today at 5 p.m. in the Alerus Center Ballroom, 1200 S. 42nd St., in Grand Forks. The ceremonial address is named in honor of another couple—Dr. David and Lola Monson—whose generous donations to our medical education program enabled us to recruit Dr. Rick Van Eck to the School. Rick comes to us with a rigorous educational leadership background, and has helped us to bring our educational offerings to a new—and higher—level of excellence. Thank you again, David and Lola!
Finally, I’d like to share with you a few highlights from material that I presented to the new students and their families during Family Day at the SMHS earlier today. In analyzing some very recently available data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), where our performance and achievements are compared with those of all other U.S. medical schools, it is clear that UND SMHS continues to perform a vital service for North Dakota (and note that some of the data are expressed in percentile terms, meaning that our school performed at least as well as, or better than, schools with lower scores):
By the way, the nearly $28 million in external sponsored funding noted above is the largest amount of such funding in the history of the School! Much of it supports programs and research that directly impact the citizens of North Dakota.
Many of the other students in our health sciences programs will be arriving on campus soon as well, and in just a few short weeks the building will be buzzing with excitement and activity. I’d say that we are off to a great start for the new academic year!
Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences