2020, I believe most will agree, was a year like no other. Not only did we face a pandemic, which caused dramatic changes to how we see patients, teach, learn, work and live, we witnessed tragedies of social injustice and a divisive presidential election. There are no words to describe the pace of change and the number of issues our world has faced.
The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM) community should be proud of all that has been accomplished during this turbulent period. Whether changing curricula and courses on a dime, creating new processes on the fly to continue research and other essential functions of the school, or providing outstanding, compassionate patient care, we have simply not missed a beat.
In this issue of Vital Signs, we focus our attention on COVID-19 and how the BSOM community is making significant contributions to fighting this disease, assisting the community around us and the world at large. Faculty, students and alumni from BSOM have been involved with COVID-19 from testing to vaccinating, and all points in between. We have collaborated with each other and those outside our community during this pandemic to provide solutions and support.
Wright State University students from all across campus, aided by BSOM students and the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, provided contact tracing support to area public health departments. You will read about a resident who organized a virtual symposium, attended by over 150 Dayton-area medical professionals, which provided critical information about COVID-19 vaccines and ways to overcome vaccine hesitancy. We also share a story about our students who helped to get those vaccines in arms at local COVID-19 vaccine clinics.
While COVID-19 was altering day-to-day life, at BSOM, like all learning institutions, we were having to make adjustments. You will see how quickly switching to virtual instruction and trying to maintain personal connections with students were among some of the challenges created by the pandemic. I am impressed by the creativity of our dedicated faculty and staff who were able to successfully navigate the changes necessary to continue providing our students with quality learning experiences.
You will read about an alumnus whose expertise in dealing with disaster has put him in a position to assist the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and emergency medical services nationwide, with guidelines for COVID-19 care. Another alumnus has been labeled a hero and awarded for his dedication to COVID-19 care in the Dayton area.
Ask any parent of a school-aged child and they will agree their students’ education has been affected by COVID-19. K–12 students have been challenged by not being in the classroom consistently for almost a year. You will learn about a study—made successful by collaboration between BSOM, Dayton Children’s Hospital, and administrators from several southwest Ohio school districts—The results of which played a role in getting kids back in the classroom.
I was thrilled in November to begin my role as BSOM’s dean. I am excited to have the opportunity in this issue to share my story, so you can learn more about me and what I will bring to BSOM.
As we continue into 2021 with the hopeful promise of better things to come, I am grateful for the strong and dedicated BSOM community and the support from the Wright State family and our many community partners. We are achieving great things and caring for patients and our community, all while educating the next generation of physicians.
Valerie D. Weber, M.D., M.S., FACP