Susan and I are off today to the annual meeting of the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE). Although both of us have longstanding interests in cardiac ultrasound, this is not a meeting that I at least have been to before. While the meeting should be interesting and informative, our major motivation in attending is that a long-time friend and colleague is being recognized. Priscilla Peters, BA, RDCS, FASE, was my chief echocardiographic technologist (usually now called sonographer) at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where I once ran the Noninvasive Cardiac Laboratory. I was able to recruit Priscilla to Michigan when I moved there as Chief of Cardiology at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Although she too has moved on (to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey), she is one of the most knowledgeable, experienced, and superb sonographers in the country. So both Susan and I are very pleased to see that Priscilla’s colleagues are going to recognize her contributions with the ASE’s Cardiovascular Sonographer Distinguished Teacher Award. The award will be presented this Sunday evening during the 9th Annual ASE Foundation Research Awards Gala.
If you are not familiar with the field, echocardiography (AKA cardiac sonography) has progressed phenomenally in the past four decades or so. In cardiology, we routinely use it to make definitive diagnoses—diagnoses that previously were difficult or impossible to make confidently without an invasive procedure like a heart catheterization. And while the developments in the field have been nothing short of extraordinary, I was reminded just last week of how far we still need to go to achieve better health. A study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine explored which workplace interventions were most successful in getting employees to stop smoking. It turns out that adding a financial incentive to other quit-smoking interventions tripled the likelihood that an employee would cease smoking. That’s the good news. But the depressing news is that such a program was successful in fewer than three percent of participants!
This is why the SMHS places such an emphasis on trying to address behavioral and other potentially modifiable determinants of health and disease. That’s why we started a department of population health and recruited Dr. Gary Schwartz to chair it. That’s why we (along with NDSU) started a program in public health. Our Master of Public Health (MPH) program has been guided from its inception by Dr. Ray Goldsteen, who, along with his wife Karen, has provided the leadership to get our program not only up and running, but accredited and respected. As you may know, both Ray and Karen are retiring at the end of the month, and I’d like to thank them again for their fantastic contributions. I know that you join me in wishing them all the best.
I’m confident that the strong foundation they helped to establish for the MPH program will be the base upon which we continue to build. So I’m pleased to indicate that Dr. Don Warne, our newly installed Director of the Indians into Medicine (INMED) program and inaugural Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, has agreed to serve as the interim director of the MPH program until the new director is named. The recruitment process is progressing nicely, with four candidates to be interviewed on Monday.
I’m hopeful that the new director will continue the maturation of our MPH program and add to our ongoing efforts to reduce the modifiable conditions that contribute to disease (like cigarette smoking). As a society, we simply have to do better in controlling those health risk factors that—at least potentially—are under our control.
Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences