Dean's Update

February 10, 2023 - Aron Sousa, MD


This week, the college welcomed our LCME consultants to Grand Rapids for our mock site visit. I had the pleasure to meet with the team a couple of times and appreciate their expertise and the feedback they gave us.

What inspires me most is our accreditation team, who met for four hours after the feedback session, filled a white board with tasks, and then divided them up and set to work. I am biased, having been a part of Academic Affairs for the majority of my career, but this is one of the best teams in medical education.

The team does remarkable work for our students. Students in the Shared Discovery Curriculum improve their standardized test scores by about three quarters of a standard deviation. Usually, students score at about the same level compared to peers from one standardized test to the next, but students in our curriculum improve a lot compared to their national peers. It is an oversimplification to call that the power of the curriculum, but this is a remarkable achievement by our faculty and students.

The work over the next week includes the final update of our data and materials, some specific work on data we are sure the team will want to see, and creating video summaries of our spaces. The LCME survey team is only visiting Grand Rapids, so we are making videos to show them our other facilities. And, if you are a member of the LCME site visit team and you are reading this, we are excited for your visit.

As the death toll of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria climbs past 20,000, I want to recognize the scale of this loss to those countries, as well as for the many people in our college and our communities with family and friends in the area of this temblor. While we are geographically distant, many of us are one degree away.

One of our Family Medicine faculty, Hend Azhary, MD, is from Syria and has been working with Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey since 2011. She works with and leads medical mission trips of 50-70 medical providers to the area with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). Medical students from the college have accompanied her to refugee camps and underserved areas of Jordan where many displaced Syrians live. Hend tells me that she expects to return to the area soon with SAMS to help people displaced by the earthquake.

I emailed Dr. Azhary about the quake, her family, and to see if there was anything I should include in my update. She sent me this message to pass on:

Dear colleagues,

As most of you heard the news about the devastating earthquake that killed thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of buildings, hospitals, and roads in Turkey and Syria, this was the largest catastrophe that hit the region since 1939. My family and friends in both countries are fine and I hope that no one that you know of got affected. In these hard times, I would like to encourage you to support all non-for-profit organizations that are able to deliver medical and relief supplies to the region. One of these organizations is the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) that has been providing health care relief to Syrians inside and outside Syria through building hospitals, outpatient clinics, free cancer care including chemotherapy, and training medical staff in the last 10 years. SAMS is preparing an emergency fund and medical mission that consist of specialists from different fields to treat Syrian patients in need. Here is the link for donations and the SAMS statement about the earthquake that summarizes the current situation is here I will be happy to provide any information or answer any questions on ways to help.
Thank you, Hend Azhary, MD

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD FACP



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