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School of Medicine and Health Sciences


Grand Forks, ND

July 25, 2014

There appears to be growing national awareness of the current and impending shortage of healthcare providers in this country, especially in rural areas. An editorial just appeared this past Sunday in the New York Times titled “Bottlenecks in Training Doctors.” The piece documented the scope of the problem, and emphasized that the shortage is particularly acute for primary care providers, especially in rural areas and poor urban neighborhoods. It also highlighted the imbalance of providers, with too many specialists in urban areas and too few primary care providers in rural areas. The editorial also stressed that too many providers are not practicing at the top of their scope of practice. It lamented the shortage of post-MD residency slots and the shortage of community clinical training slots. It concluded with a call for an increase in the number of residency training slots, an expansion in the cadre of nonphysician healthcare providers, and an improvement in the efficiency of the country’s healthcare delivery system.

Given the gridlock in Washington, D.C., it is hard to imagine how any of those three imperatives are going to be addressed by Congress. But guess what? Here in North Dakota, we’re already addressing all three—and then some! Under the Healthcare Workforce Initiative (HWI), we are expanding the number of medical and health sciences students, and we are adding a total of 17 more residency slots per year. When fully implemented, we will increase the number of graduates from the SMHS by about 20 percent overall, and the number of residency graduates by almost half. And through our emphasis on interprofessional, team-based learning, we aim to help improve the efficiency of our healthcare delivery system.

So in many ways North Dakota continues to lead the nation in innovation, entrepreneurship, and initiative. To be sure, the Healthcare Workforce Initiative is not the full answer to all of the challenges we face in the healthcare arena. But it is an important component, and already is bearing fruit. We have new doctors signing up to practice in North Dakota from Fargo to Hettinger and Grand Forks to Williston. And many are graduates of the UND SMHS or trained in one of our residency programs or both. Compared with the rest of the country, North Dakota has relatively lower cost and higher quality healthcare—but we can and must do better. And while the HWI will help, it cannot be the whole answer. The School will continue to work with multiple partners—providers, payers, policy makers, legislators, and patients—to improve the health of North Dakotans and optimize their healthcare delivery system. So while the rest of the country talks, North Dakota is doing.
And within the next few months, we’ll have an even better idea of just how well we are doing. Our faculty and staff are hard at work collecting, analyzing, and interpreting the most recent data available regarding North Dakota’s healthcare provider workforce, and the status of health and healthcare delivery across the state. Much of the analytical work is performed through our Center for Rural Health, and we plan to have recommendations for policy makers by year end. Details of our analysis and recommendations are contained in the report that is prepared and submitted every two years by the SMHS Advisory Council (in conjunction with the SMHS and its Center for Rural Health). You can access the First Biennial Report and Second Biennial Report. The Third Biennial Report is scheduled to be released at the end of 2014. We’ll post a link to it as soon as it is available.

And while there are remaining challenges in rural healthcare delivery, the problems are even more marked in Indian Country. That’s one of the reasons that I’m so proud of our Indians into Medicine (INMED) Program. Just last week, the program completed another successful Summer Institute. I was honored to be invited to participate in the Awards Banquet that was the culmination of the summer program. Actually, there are four programs that run largely concurrently. The Summer Institute itself is a six-week program of academic enrichment and social maturation designed to increase the potential of seventh- through twelfth-graders for subsequent college success. There is a second six-week program called the Pathway Program that helps graduates of tribal community colleges transition to success in the four-year programs at UND. The Med Prep Programs bring potential medical school applicants together to help them prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and also support recently admitted medical students to hone their knowledge and competencies in biochemistry and physiology to help ensure subsequent success during their first year of medical school education.

So whether it is for Belcourt, Bottineau, or Bismarck, your SMHS is working hard to educate the healthcare providers that North Dakota needs, while working at the same time to reduce disease burden and improve the efficiency of the state’s healthcare delivery system. 

I end my column on a mournful note. The School and I are greatly saddened by the passing of Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor Paul D. Ray, PhD, on July 15. Dr. Ray was a pioneer in the groundbreaking Department of Biochemistry at the School. He also participated in the INMED Program as well as the recruitment of student-athletes interested in pursuing a career in the basic sciences. Dr. Ray earned the distinction of Professor Emeritus upon his “retirement” in 1997—he continued to teach until March of 2014. He will be missed by us all.

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

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Sun, candidate for the bioinformatics faculty position, to present seminar on July 28

Deqiang Sun, PhD, postdoctoral research associate, Division of Biostatistics, Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine, will present a seminar titled "Epigenome analysis of hematopoietic stem cells," on Monday, July 28, at 11 a.m. in the Clifford Haugen Lecture Hall at the SMHS in Grand Forks.

Sun is a candidate for the bioinformatics faculty position in the Department of Basic Sciences.

All are welcome to attend.

Jennifer Hershey
Administrative Secretary
Department of Basic Sciences

Save the Date: White Coat Ceremony and Picnic

The White Coat Ceremony for the MD Class of 2018 will be held on August 8 in the Alerus Center Ballroom, 1200 S. 42nd St., in Grand Forks. An indoor picnic will take place immediately following the ceremony in the Ballroom.

David O. Monson, MD, will deliver the keynote address for the ceremony titled, "We've Only Just Begun." Monson lives with his wife Lola Rognlie Monson, also a UND graduate, in River Forest, Ill., a Chicago suburb. He earned his BA and BS degree in medicine from UND in 1961.

Lori Sannes
Administrative Officer
Office of the Dean

2014 UND Epigenetics and Epigenomics Symposium is October 2

UND faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend the Third Annual Epigenetics and Epigenomics Symposium to be held by the University of North Dakota on Thursday, October 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, 1 Ralph Engelstad Drive in Grand Forks. This event will bring together experts from fields such as dynamics of chromatin structure and function; epigenetics and gene expression; genomics; computational biology; and medicine. A reception will be held after the conference.

Students will have an opportunity to present posters based on their research in the fields of epigenetics and epigenomics. This event aims to promote interaction and collaboration among researchers in the Dakotas and beyond, and provide opportunities for learning about cutting-edge tools, approaches, and resources to advance epigenetics as it applies to human disease and development.

Keynote speakers will be

  • Paula Vertino, PhD, codirector, Cancer Genetics and Genome Instability Program at Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University.
  • Jocelyn Krebs, PhD, director, Alaska INBRE, and professor of biology, University of Alaska, Anchorage. 
  • Frank Slack, PhD, professor, molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, Yale University.  

Please register now for the conference. Registration is free. Please register by September 12, 2014.

The UND Epigenetics and Epigenomics Symposium is sponsored by

  • SMHS Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for Epigenomics
  • SMHS Department of Basic Sciences
  • UND Research, Development, and Compliance

For additional information, please contact Archana Dhasarathy, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Basic Sciences, (701) 777-4285.

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Gray voted as president-elect of the American Psychological Association's Division 45

Jacqueline S. Gray, PhD, associate director at the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, has been voted as president-elect of the American Psychological Association's Division 45 for the 2015 term.

Division 45 of the American Psychological Association is the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity.

“It is an honor to represent such a strong voice nationally regarding culture, race, and ethnicity,” said Gray. “I follow a group of distinguished leaders and hope to continue with the work that needs to be done.”

Gray begins her term as president-elect beginning January 2015, and will become president in January of 2016. The division was founded in 1986 to promote the study of ethnicity and culture in psychology. Division members achieve this through scholarly presentations at the American Psychological Association's annual convention. Division 45 currently has more than 1,000 members.
Nikki Massmann
Communication Coordinator
Center for Rural Health

"Infertility"—CDC Grand Rounds

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Public Health Grand Rounds is a monthly webcast created to foster discussion on major public health issues. Each session focuses on key challenges related to a specific health topic, and explores the latest scientific evidence and the potential effect of different interventions. The Grand Rounds sessions also highlight how the CDC and its partners are already addressing these challenges and discuss the recommendations for future research and practice. August's presentation is "Infertility." All of the webcasts are archived for later viewing.

Social Media: Photos of DPT Class of 2016 Entrance Into Professional Service Ceremony

On the SMHS Flickr page, view photos of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2016 Entrance Into Professional Service Ceremony, July 17, 2014. 

On our Facebook page, Dean Wynne answers questions about health risks for young athletes in his latest Health Matters column, which can be found in the Grand Forks Herald every other Monday. Please submit any general health-related questions to

You can also get the latest SMHS news by following the School on Twitter

University Letter: Nursing and Professional Disciplines adds to leadership and development team

The College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines (CNPD) has hired members to its leadership and development team:
  • Tracy Evanson is the new director of its PhD program. 
  • Maridee Shogren has been selected as the next chair of the Graduate Nursing Department.
  • Jana Zwilling has been selected as the new director of the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program.
  • Sigrid Letcher, the senior director of Sales and Prospecting for the UND Foundation, will be serving as the College’s director of Development in an interim capacity.
UND news can be found in the University Letter. Published on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is distributed electronically to the University community and is always available online. For more information, contact editor Jan Orvik at (701) 777-3621.

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