College of

Dean's Update | May 22

Meet Man Kuan Lei, an excellent and diligent College of Human Medicine MS3. She is sporting an MSU-made face shield.

Dear Friends,

It is good to have students back in the hospitals and clinics. Thanks to great partnerships with our community and hospital partners – and the extraordinary work of the educational team across the state – the college has been able to use a principled approach to bring students back to clinics.

To remind folks, our basic principles in the time of COVID-19 are that 1) our students need to be safe and can only participate when they have proper PPE, 2) students should only participate in ways that add capacity to the health care system, 3) students should only use PPE when it increases capacity of the health system, and 4) during the crisis we are creating the professional spirit of future physicians.

Most other institutions have not been able to make this work for their students – my humble thanks to the department clerkship teams, the folks in academic affairs, our community campuses, and our clinical partners all over the state.

Our curriculum is designed to help students be useful, and from the beginning of the curriculum our students prove useful to their clinics. Now that our students are re-entering the clinical settings of the Late Clinical Experience, I am looking forward to Middle Clinical Experience students entering their rotations when they return from break in July. We aim to have our incoming MS1 students in their Early Clinical Experience clinical settings on time in October. These are our plans, but we are ready to adjust if we need to. I hope that the trend of increasing seven-day daily cases in Michigan reverses. Some of this increase may be due to the increases in testing compared to two and three weeks ago. (Hospitalizations are down, but the trend on deaths is less clear.) 

Work continues on re-engaging campus as the state re-opens over the next few weeks. Folks in our research units and research buildings are working on plans to safely bring people back into labs to do work that can only be done in labs. I think we will continue to be expected to do work at home that can be done at home. But for those whose work has to be done in labs, we are working on protocols for PPE, voluntary testing, and tracking as we bring people into buildings. The education units are looking at what level of on-campus level staffing will be needed to support second-year students when they return in July.

Last week, President Stanley and the university announced more about the financial implications of the pandemic on MSU, and as a college we continue to plan and evaluate our options. Nothing has really changed from my update or town hall last week, and I expect more information about funding changes for future years in the next couple of weeks.

We cannot cut our way to a better future. While we have to be realistic and make cuts to meet our budget, we will need to grow to be strong as we come out of this crisis. In the past we’ve found partnerships and growth opportunities from across the state, and we need to be on the lookout for these kinds of potential partnerships.

I want to let all of our friends and colleagues in the Midland region know we are thinking of you. I can only imagine how hard it is to manage a catastrophe like this during the pandemic. Our students based in Midland are safe, and some of them are working in the shelters with people displaced by the flooding – our students are the best!

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean