HEALTH MATTERSQ. In his recent budget address, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple proposed funding for two new programs to be administered through UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Can you tell me something about each?
By: Dr. Joshua Wynne, Grand Forks Herald
Q. In his recent budget address, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple proposed funding for two new programs to be administered through UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Can you tell me something about each?
A. The first program is one that will help train doctors and other health care providers from across the state in optimal methods for caring for elderly patients. Called the Geriatric Training Program, the new program would bring the best practices in geriatrics care identified from across the country to our practitioners in North Dakota.
Why is this program particularly important for North Dakota? The answer is because we have one of the oldest populations in the country. For example, we are second only to Florida in the portion of our population over the age of 85. And since some of those seniors live in rural or frontier parts of the state, delivering efficient and appropriate health care to them is a real challenge. So better training of our health care providers in the care of our senior citizens should translate into better and improved outcomes for them.
I’m especially pleased with the governor’s endorsement of the new second program, which will be to establish the first master’s degree program in public health in North Dakota. Currently, any student seeking an M.P.H. has to go out of state to earn the degree. Our program would allow students to stay in North Dakota.
What is so exciting about this program is that we are proposing to offer the degree as a combined and integrated offering by UND and NDSU. Both universities would participate in contributing the best that each has to offer to the educational package. That way, students would profit from the particular expertise of each university, while minimizing duplication and cost. Most of the coursework is to be offered online, thus allowing participation of students from across the state, and minimizing the need for residential students to commute between Grand Forks and Fargo.
Who would be interested in such public health training? There are at least three important potential candidates: The first are health care providers (both physician and non-physician) who want to expand their understanding of disease transmission and prevention. The second are the many public health officials who are located throughout the state in one of 28 health districts, under the auspices of the North Dakota Department of Health. And the third group of potential students would be the administrators and management staff from a wide variety of health care delivery sites (hospitals, clinics and offices) who would profit from the health management and policy component of a public health degree.
Both programs would be good for North Dakota. The School of Medicine and Health Sciences appreciates the support of the governor for these two programs, and we hope that the upcoming Legislature also endorses them so that we can begin them soon.
The content of this column is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice or care. The information provided herein should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this column.
Wynne is vice president for health affairs at UND, dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and a professor of medicine. He is a cardiologist by training.
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