From The Dean

  • Friday, July 13, 2018
  • From The Dean

We are extremely proud of our students who typify the North Dakota ethic of hard work, dedication, fairness, and helping our neighbors and friends when needed. I was reminded of this yesterday when I was having a casual conversation with a former emergency medicine residency program director from a neighboring state. While talking about summer vacation plans, what our kids and grandkids were up to, and so on, he re-directed the conversation to our medical school graduates, whom he lauded for being well-prepared for residency. He went on to indicate that they make excellent residents, and he was sure that they would continue to represent UND well for the rest of their careers in medicine.

If that were not nice enough, I just learned that Michael Storandt, a second-year medical student at UND, recently attended the Special Olympics USA Games as a coach of the Unified Flag Football team for North Dakota and was bestowed the honor of reciting the Coaches’ Oath during the Opening Ceremony. The ceremony was broadcast live on ABC, and the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium in Seattle, Wash., was full of spectators and more than 4,000 athletes. “It was amazing, and kind of nerve-wracking,” he told UND Today about briefly leading the ceremony. “There’s 20-30,000 people staring back at you, but it was a cool opportunity.” Mr. Storandt has been a Special Olympics volunteer for the past seven years, although he would say that he isn’t volunteering but doing something he loves. The impact of his Special Olympics efforts extend into other aspects of his life—recently he gave a talk about how these experiences inform his approach to his medical training and how it has impacted his life. Impressive indeed, don’t you agree? And Mr. Storandt is just one example of the caliber and qualities of our students, albeit a truly outstanding one!  

Finally, I’m very pleased to report that Dr. Casey Ryan of Altru Health System and a member of the State Board of Higher Education is recovering beautifully after a recent serious illness (I have Casey’s permission to discuss this). Casey was out jogging near his lake home with his nine year-old grandson when he suffered a major life-threatening cardiac event. Because of a number of fortuitous circumstances, he is now recovering at home and on the path to a full recovery. I know that you will join me in wishing Dr. Ryan all the best.

But his experience highlights a number of important messages. First of all, Casey is in superb shape, so the trauma of what he went through was in the setting of an otherwise very healthy individual. He watches what he eats, keeps his weight under control, doesn’t smoke, and exercises regularly—in fact, even when I was jogging frequently before back and knee problems slowed me down, I never could stay close to Casey when we jogged together! Second, it is important for all of us—lay public as well as medical professionals—to be well-versed in CPR. Third, we need to ensure that devices to shock the heart back into regular rhythm (called automatic external defibrillators or AEDs) are widely available. And finally, we must have a well-established system of cardiac care that makes sure patients are rapidly transported to hospitals that can provide appropriate state-of-the-art care around the clock. Fortunately, the state of North Dakota has such a system.

The important bottom-line message is that what we do inside hospitals is important, but what is done outside of the hospital walls often matters even more. And thanks to a good mixture of all of these ingredients, Casey is now on the road to a full recovery. How simply fantastic! All the best to Casey and his family.

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