Take a minute for yourself this summer | A Message from the Dean

I know that, like me, many of you felt like the cold weather would never end. Last month I was sure it would start to warm up, only to walk out my door to falling snow. While the average April  temperature is 50-60oF, this year, the average was just over 46oF. It seemed like the cold lingered and, no matter how tired we were, it just went on and on. It reminded me of how we have all endured the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we have hoped that it would just end and go away.

In spite of the colder-than-normal April and a new strain of COVID, last week I noticed a few small green leaves coming up in my backyard. I didn’t think much of it, as they were just barely noticeable. But a few days later, there were more green leaves, and they were longer. Then I remembered we planted tulip bulbs in the fall. As it gets warmer, I check daily to see if the flowers have appeared. I am also looking forward to summer bike rides and, hopefully, some golf and walks at the lake—you know, a beautiful Minnesota summer.

As a school and community, you all have worked very hard, and the fruits of your labor are three graduating classes of residents and students, multiple grants submitted and funded, published papers, patients treated in Moos Tower and in Outreach, courses taught in-person and remotely, the community of the Mobile Dental Clinic, Give-Kids a Smile, students, staff and  faculty attending and presenting at national meetings, and the list goes on. The success of our school is due to the work and commitment of students, staff, and faculty. While so much has been accomplished, in July we will welcome new residents and, in the fall, new students— more good and impactful work to do.

But I need everyone to find time this summer to exhale. It is important that each of you take care of yourselves and your family and friends. Take time to plant a new garden. Spend time at the lake. Go kayaking or fishing or hiking. Take a walk around the block or the lake or the river. The summer is a great time to refresh and rejuvenate. It’s a great time to laugh more and safely enjoy other people. It’s a time to enjoy baseball—whether you are watching the Twins, the Saints or the Gophers. Enjoy outdoor concerts and cooking on the grill. It’s a great time to engage in self-care.

Predictions suggest that the pandemic is not completely over, so doing things the safe way is still important. But each of us should take some time to breathe and be mindful of the things that contribute to our overall well-being. We have all gone through a lot these past two years and the summer in Minnesota is a great time to enjoy the outdoors.

My prescription for you is to have fun this summer!