It has been said, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
As we bring the 2020-2021 academic year to a close and make final preparations for graduation, I want to thank the faculty, staff and administrators at our five University of Arizona Health Sciences colleges for their extraordinary toughness this difficult year.
It brings to mind a famous quote from Winston Churchill as he led his nation through the darkest days of World War II: “If you’re going through hell,” he said, the only choice is to “keep going.” Wise words indeed. Inspiration, I admit, I was reminded of while indulging in a few old episodes of “The Crown” during the darkest days of the COVID-19 quarantine. Perhaps you, too, turned to Netflix for a bit of solace this year.
But here’s the thing – the University of Arizona Health Sciences did not simply survive the ravages of COVID-19 on our professions. We succeeded in a way that surpassed all expectations. We significantly strengthened our mission, finding new, innovative ways to educate and train students, care for marginalized communities through public health interventions and enhance meaningful interprofessional research relationships.
In short, the dedicated men and women at the University of Arizona Health Sciences made history this year. Working together, we have become personally and professionally stronger, smarter and more nimble, forever changing the way we meet challenges and solve problems. The result: We have accomplished a better future and health care for all.
Please bear with me as I toot the horn of our Health Sciences colleges’ many successes this year. Here are a few examples of what our teams of tough, visionary professionals were able to accomplish in a year that just as well could have decimated us. Working together, we:
- Investigated the complexities of COVID-19 to create better defenses against disease
- Expanded the reach of COVID-19 vaccination efforts to underserved populations
- Collaborated in partnering with the Phoenix VA Health Care System to accelerate the path from research to care
- Expanded eligibility and participation in the Primary Care Physician Scholarship program
- Contributed to reducing COVID-19 disparities through inclusive outreach
- Built a virtual bridge to grad school for underrepresented minority students
- Extended research and educational opportunities to international students
- Launched a collaborative clinical trials network to include more underserved cancer patients
- Created real-world opportunities for health care professionals to train during the pandemic
- Graduated an inaugural class of students trained to be integrative health care providers
Due to your vision and fortitude, we have strengthened and improved upon our mission as one of the leading academic medical centers in the southwestern United States. We have proven how our education, research and outreach are, more than ever, improving the health and wellness not only of Arizonans, but also people across the country and around the world.
Very soon, we will have the opportunity to finally see one another regularly on our Health Sciences campuses in Tucson and Phoenix. I thank our faculty, staff, administrators, students and volunteers for their grit, curiosity, compassion and unwavering dedication even as we often worked remotely.
I know you all join me in sending heartfelt congratulations to the graduates of our five colleges who join us on the career path of health sciences. As we venture forth together to make the world a better place, I leave you with one final quote from Churchill.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Thank you for everything you gave this year and continue to give. I am humbled and inspired by each and every one of you.
Michael D. Dake, MD
Senior Vice President
University of Arizona Health Sciences