Dean's Update 2021-04

April 1, 2021

A year of COVID

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since COVID-19 came into our lives. The dramatic personal and professional effects it has had on so many across our nation, and within our own MSUCOM community, is at times overwhelming. I think about all of those who have lost a loved one to the pandemic or have struggled with the virus themselves. My thoughts are with each and every one of those individuals.

While the gravity of the situation still weighs heavily on our minds, there is still much to be grateful for. Within our own college, we saw dramatic changes to our curriculum which required a tremendous amount of work and time from our faculty and staff. Our students had to readily adapt to a new online learning environment as well, a task not easily accomplished in medical school.

Yet, the commitment to succeed from everyone within our community has amazed me. A true dedication that stems from a mission to provide a world-class osteopathic medical education that’s focused on our students and fosters access to quality, patient-centered medical care.

I remember last March, 600 or so of our third- and fourth-year students had to step back from their clerkship experiences, as our hospital partners mobilized for the rise of COVID-19 cases. Yet despite this, our clerkship sites prioritized the return of our students to their campuses within weeks, as the training of our future physicians was recognized as an essential function.

I can’t thank our many hospital partners enough for being so supportive of our students and our mission.

The daily work that happens to strengthen these essential relationships and expand clinical opportunities for our students is so important and ensures our ability to provide bright and compassionate SpartanDOs as part of a health care enterprise.

Much of our success with these partnerships is due to so many of our 7000+ alumni who work in these hospitals and have experienced firsthand the benefits clerkship experiences can offer. I am always so proud of the impact our alumni have had in not only promoting all aspects of health and wellness, but also in the ongoing support of our college. Beyond the strong financial support we receive each year from many of you, the support our alumni can provide in advocating for our profession and our students is priceless.

The hospital affiliations we have across the state are vital to every aspect of our medical school mission. It is my hope that we can continue to work together to ensure these partnerships thrive. So, as you head off to work, please take a moment to encourage your hospital leadership to continue their support of clerkship experiences for our future SpartanDOs. These are the same physicians that will likely become members of your hospital care teams.

There are many more ways to help and get involved, too. Chris Surian, who leads our alumni engagement efforts and is director of our development team, is going to share ways you can maximize your impact and involvement with our college.

A connected community

Osteopathic physicians understand that it takes effort from all to ensure communities thrive. The more people involved in the health asurianc.jpgnd well-being of others, the more successful that community becomes. It is no different for our College of Osteopathic Medicine. It takes all those connected to us to ensure we produce high-quality future physicians to serve our population, conduct important research that advances knowledge and provide volunteer service to help those in need.

To do this, we must have an engaged base of alumni and friends. Having this connection not only improves the status of our great medical school but increases the impact the DO profession has on society overall, gives talented and committed students the opportunity to realize their dreams and offers rewarding experiences for everyone involved.

Making an impact

One way many of our physicians contribute their time is to our admissions process, enabling us to attract and retain a high-quality student body. Many of you may have already served as a student recruiter in communities that help us create a diverse application pool. This interaction with middle school, high school and undergraduate students provides an opportunity to introduce these aspiring future physicians to our college and encourage them on their journey to joining the osteopathic profession. Participating directly in the student admission interview process and serving as student mentors are other ways for our alumni and friends to stay involved. These interviews help us determine what the next generation of SpartanDOs will look like and help us instill the important values of our profession. I often hear comments from many of you about the contagious enthusiasm our applicants and students exhibit and the “re-charge” they receive in return.

Another great way to stay engaged is by attending college events and acting as an informed ambassador. We host an alumni weekend each fall that includes a student scholarship event, a CME course, and a golf outing and tailgate prior to an MSU football game. This year our event is September 23-25, 2021. We hope to see you there!

Our key college leadership also host receptions at many of the larger osteopathic association annual meetings and CMEs. These gatherings are often held in areas of the state and country where many of our alumni and clinical faculty live and work. All of these events provide an opportunity to not only stay informed on current college programs, initiatives and current trends withing the profession, but also provide opportunities to interact and network with old friends, classmates, current students and college leadership.

Personal philanthropy

One of the most impactful and meaningful ways to get involved is through personal philanthropy. Your financial support allows us to move the needle when it comes to advancing reputation and inspiring future physicians. Those that support student scholarships often speak of the immense satisfaction they receive around helping our talented and committed students graduate without overwhelming debt and supporting their dream of becoming a SpartanDO. Keeping debt load manageable is often the difference in a student’s decision of what and where they practice.

This kind of support also can provide the necessary resources for our students to participate in research and community outreach. When it comes to student research, often times, many of our students want to develop a specific research skill. Support from our donors can cover the cost for them to do this work in world-class research labs here at MSU and also help them compete for post-graduate residency positions.

Community outreach support enables more of our students to serve the homeless and underserved through programs such as Spartan Street Medicine and Detroit Street Care, as well as help them participate in international medical missions in places like Peru and the Dominican Republic. It is these life-changing experiences that help shape our students, offering new and valuable perspectives in medicine that reinforce the osteopathic philosophy.

Staying engaged

Staying engaged can take many forms. All are impactful and rewarding. Whether determining the make-up of our next entering class, mentoring students, reconnecting with classmates through events or supporting the student experience through gifts of scholarship, research and outreach, all further our mission.

It is our alumni and friends who are helping to create a medical school that will address tomorrow’s health challenges and create a profession that will improve the quality of living in the communities we serve around the world.

Andy Amalfitano                      Chris Surian
Dean                                         Director of Development