Dean's Update

March 18, 2022 - Aron Sousa, MD


Today is Match Day! Each year, graduating medical students apply to and interview with residencies in their specialty of interest. After the interview process, the students rank their programs in the order of their preference, and the programs rank applicants in the order of their preference. A computer algorithm places students in the residency highest in their rank order list that matches the residency preference list. In the best case, the process results in the vast majority of students and residencies being happy with the result. This year I am confident we have a very large number of very happy people. We no longer get information on where on rank order lists our students matched, but this year 97.6% of our students matched, and that is excellent.

Forty-three percent of our graduates are entering a primary care residency (i.e., family medicine, internal medicine, medicine/pediatrics, and pediatrics) and 45.2% will remain in Michigan for their residencies.

Each year, match week begins with a few people who did not match, and our teams spend the week with these students helping them interview with unfilled programs and get matched. This year we had a small number in that camp, and our chairs, community assistant deans, and student affairs/careers leadership did a great job helping people find a good job.

Earlier in the week, the college crushed its Give Green Day fund raising goal ($15K) for student scholarships. The College of Human Medicine Alumni Board created leading and matching gifts to help drive our total to nearly $38,000 in scholarship donations. We do a couple of special giving days each year, and this was our best ever. My deep thanks to the alumni board and its president, Ross Ramsey, MD (CHM ’09), for their leadership and generosity taking us to this record donation level. Scholarship funding is our highest fundraising priority, and three quarters of the way into the fiscal year, we have already raised more scholarship money than in any other year.

Last week, the college lost a great partner and leader with the death of Diane Postler-Slatterly and her husband in a plane crash outside Panama City, Florida. Diane was the CEO and president of MyMichigan Health, formerly MidMichigan Health, based in Midland. She has been a strong supporter of our campus in Midland and was always interested in improving the experience of students in the system. She was a great leader for MyMichigan and will be deeply missed by so many of us who worked with her. My thoughts are with their family, the people of Midland, and our partners at MyMichigan.

As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all continue to wane in the US, data from the UK show COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all moving up again after weeks of decreases. Based on an impressive surveillance program in England, it appears that these increases correspond with increases in omicron BA.2 compared to the baseline omicron BA.1 variant. Recall that the vaccines do not work as well for omicron as they did for the alpha and delta variants. It is probably the case that vaccine effectiveness for BA.2 is similar but slightly worse than the original omicron BA.1. It is clear that vaccines waned in effectiveness against infection back in the days of delta – that phenomenon will continue as time goes by.

I want to be careful here, because it is unlikely there will be another big surge in the UK or the US with high mortality, but cases will go up again and those most at risk of disease or transmitting disease may need a fourth shot. This is going to be the way of endemic coronavirus infections. Evolution and survival of the fittest is a remarkable driver for even a lowlife virus. So, I suspect we will hear from SARS-CoV2 again but at a lower volume not requiring us to shut down, close schools, or return to virtual classes.

Just as a bit of an update from Mary Marshall, MD regarding the war in Ukraine, there will be a rally at the state capitol in support of the Ukrainian people on Sunday at 2:00 PM – all are welcome. And today, 27 palates of medical supplies are on their way to Poland and then on to Ukraine. My deep thanks to everyone who has contributed to this effort, and please keep working.

We are going to do a traditional graduation in the Breslin Center this year on May 14, and we will celebrate our recently matched fourth year students as they cross the stage to be hooded. We will also welcome back some 2020 graduates who did not get a chance for an in-person graduation in 2020. Their “virtual” speaker back then was Dean Marsha Rappley, and I am happy to say that Marsha has agreed to be our in-person speaker this year. She was a transformative leader at the college and a great leader nationally at the FDA and as chair of the board of the AAMC – it will be great to have her back with us.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean

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