Your Focus Determines Your Reality – George Lucas

Interesting fact: cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in Minnesota, while hospitalizations and deaths are down. This is because Minnesotans (by and large) worked together to slow the spread of the virus and kept it from overwhelming our medical resources. Researchers and caregivers combined forces to learn the best ways to treat COVID-19, prevent serious complications, and help many seriously ill patients survive.

This is a good thing to remember as we may face juggling pandemic conditions with normal achievements: We are making a difference. We practice academic medicine. That means that we teach and learn at the same time. It means that we tackle the tough problems in medicine. It means we don’t wait until we’re perfect (which will never happen anyway), but we get started. We see problems in the clinic and in the community, and we lead the way to solutions with our scientific and medical knowledge.

Another interesting fact: despite the huge shift in our research priorities to COVID-19, many of our scientists and physicians have continued to make progress on their non-COVID research. Despite the pressures of the pandemic, we have regained a level of NIH research funding on par with last year. I know that achieving these results is demanding, especially considering the challenges you are dealing with in our labs and classrooms, not to mention balancing the pressures of family life.

I had the opportunity this week to talk to Dr. Elizabeth Bradley, an assistant professor in Orthopaedic Surgery, who recently received an R01 to study the molecular mechanisms of osteoporosis. Dr. Bradley noted that while her team is making forward progress toward their goals during the pandemic, it is at a slower pace. Logistical challenges include scheduling lab and equipment time, and working from home with two young children. She says that she tries to be realistic about what can and cannot be accomplished during this time.

Our resources―University, Medical School, departmental, and personal―are (and will continue to be) stretched. We need to examine our priorities and focus on what is fundamental to what we do: work together to move science and medicine forward, to educate the future generation of practitioners, and to fulfill our land-grant mission of serving our community.

Our new vice dean, Dr. Ana Núñez will be giving the Welcome Address at the 2020 Fall Annual Center for Women in Medicine (CWIMS) Retreat next week (September 24, 1:00-3:30, remote, register here). This event is open to faculty, staff, students, and community members of all genders. Take a minute to look at the agenda; with the broad range of topics, it should be easy to find something of interest and use to you.

Last interesting fact: Dr. Dominique Tobbell, of our History of Medicine Program, was recently featured in a ScopeMD podcast: “Mrs. Maisel and Medicine: What Medicine was Like for Female Physicians and Nurses in the Late 1950s - early 1960s with Dr. Dominique Tobbell.” In the podcast, Dr. Tobbell notes that in 1961-1962, only 5.8% of graduating medical students were female. Today they make up more than 50% of medical school graduates.