Dean's Update

March 12, 2021 - Aron Sousa, MD


It has been a year since we moved most of the college online after the first COVID-19 cases were identified in the area. Our educational program moved online literally overnight, our teams brought up telehealth in weeks, and our students were back in their clinics faster than most schools in the country.

Since then, our people have set up the university’s Early Detection Program; rewritten the curriculum a couple of times as circumstances changed; run our programs from their dining rooms, bedrooms, and basements; offered free courses to physicians and the public; taught their own children; put in and won grants; held dozens of community town halls; cared for family members; spoke to and published in the media to guide the national conversation; and cared for countless patients with and without COVID-19. 

That is an astonishing and incomplete list of accomplishments. And, we have had losses as well. Our lives have been turned inside out, and we have lost family members and colleagues. In important ways, I have more confidence in our work and science than ever before; and in other important ways, I am more concerned than ever that our society fails when lives are at risk. The country’s death toll is more than 550,000 people, and some think that with a better response it could have been half that tragedy. Imagine. So it goes.

I am optimistic about the coming months. In the wake of new CDC guidelines for those who have been completely vaccinated, people are starting to think about more traditional meetings and events. It is important to remember that vaccines are still limited in number and availability. In many ways it is a privilege to be vaccinated, and it would not be just to reorganize ourselves based on that privilege. That said, the time will come when everyone will have had a reasonable chance to be vaccinated, and perhaps then it will be easier to have more options in our work.

In more news:

  • This is Women’s History Month and I encourage you to join “Women in Medicine & Leadership: Candid Conversations About Wearing Many Hats,” moderated by our own Marsha Rappley. She will be joined by a panel of alumni and faculty, Thursday March 25, 2021, at 7 pm. Zoom info here.
  • The Dean’s Staff Advisory Council is doing a survey of staff to bring me anonymous, open feedback. This is especially important as we start to return to our offices. Here’s a link to more information about the council and how they work. I greatly value our staff’s input and will share my thoughts around the results in April. In the meantime, please be sure to fill out the survey by next Wednesday, March 17.
  • Next week is Match Week, when students and residencies find out who will join which residency. This has been a very odd year because all of the interviews were virtual, and we expect this year to be more complicated than last year.

I want to thank you all for your dedication and the great work you have done over the last year.

You have taken care of our patients, our students, our communities and each other. We have come so very far since last year, and everyone is tired. But we are going to need to be patient and attentive for a while longer as we work toward returning to offices and doing more together in person.

For the safety of those around you, please maintain spatial distancing and wear your mask. For your own safety, wash your hands and get vaccinated when you can.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean

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