Dean's Update

August 13, 2021 - Aron Sousa, MD


This week, we welcomed 190 Early Clinical Experience (ECE) students to the College of Human Medicine. While last year orientation was entirely virtual, this year we all gathered our masked selves in Life Sciences A133 as in decades before. Drs. DeMuth and Ferenchick pointed out where they sat in A133 during their time here as students and introduced themselves to the students now in their seats. I remember Dr. Rappley doing the same, and I am sure many of our alumni could also point to “their seat” in LS A133. 

We do not use LS A133 much anymore. The Shared Discovery Curriculum uses small groups and simulation more than big lecture halls, and for the 3-4 hours a week students are in large group, we use rooms that are better suited for breakout small groups and active learning. 

If you want to see what is happening in the curriculum, it is all available online through JustInTimeMedicine (JIT). Gary Ferenchick has been working on JIT for about twenty years, and it has developed into an amazing platform. About one-third of the people who use JIT are outside the US – you too can view our CXR Tutorial, Diseases You Should Know, Quick Hitters, Joy In Clinic.

You can look at the weekly topics, review the work our ECE students will be doing, and poke through their first week. It is a massive week: safety science, anatomy, cultural awareness module, confidentiality, starting a patient encounter in sim. It’s designed to begin the 8-week effort to make students safe in and safe from the clinical experience they start in about Week 9 of medical school. Getting our new, developing health care providers with patients as soon as safely possible is a core methodology of our curriculum. As any clinician will tell you, patients are the best teachers. 

Bringing in a new class during a pandemic was an amazing feat in this pandemic year. Assistant Dean Joel Maurer and the admissions team converted our interview process, campus visits, and meetings all to online to evaluate 11,371 applications leading to our 2021 matriculating class. Of our 190 students, 85% are from Michigan, 23% are from groups underrepresented in medicine, 61% qualify as disadvantaged, 22% are from a rural community, and 100% are awesome, new College of Human Medicine medical students. 

Also this week:

  • President Stanley announced the completion of the MSU Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report and Plan. Our own Wanda Lipscomb, PhD, the college’s senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, was a co-chair of the DEI Task Force. Congratulations to Wanda for bringing this one home!
  • Barbara Forney, our associate dean for administration, is going to transition away from the College of Human Medicine to about 50% time heading up academic HR for the Office of Health Sciences. Somewhere in that process she is technically retiring so she won’t be in the college after the end of August, but consistent with how Barbara operates, she will not miss a day of work. And work she does. Everyone in the administration has benefitted from Barbara’s wisdom, experience, and nose-to-the-grindstone work effort. A subset of us have been in the occasional sticky spot, and there is nothing better than having Barbara in your corner. Her diligence, wisdom, memory, and intelligence have allowed the college to expand, do new work, create new partners, and improve its processes for more than 15 years. We would miss her, but she will be just down the hall!
  • Check out the Summer Edition of MSU Med News, and while you are on the CHM website, look up the new $6 million CDC grant addressing social determinants of health and COVID-19 vaccination headed by the director of the Division of Public Health and associate dean for Public Health Integration, Debra Furr-Holden, PhD.

As you all know, MSU has a vaccine and mask mandate complete with FAQs, and the delta variant is coursing through the country. Each week I link to the same CDC map of substantial and high transmission of COVID-19, and each week it shows more orange and red. Most counties in Michigan now fall under the CDC masking guidelines. For a while now, laboratory data has suggested that the vaccine provides better antibody levels than native COVID-19 infection. New last week, an important case-randomized control analysis indicates that vaccination after testing positive COVID-19 reduces subsequent COVID-19 infection more than two-fold. I will note that all this data and these cases predate the more infectious delta variant. It is a concerning new world as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all increase.

Remember to wash your hands and wear your mask. Stay home if you are sick and get tested before you come back to work. Consider volunteering for the EDP and get vaccinated.

Serving the people with you, 


Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean

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