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Please read this message from Cristy Page, MD, MPH, Executive Dean of the UNC School of Medicine, reflecting on the New Year.

Dear Colleagues,

I hope that you and your families enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and a healthy start to this New Year. While we all hoped to use these last few weeks to rest and recharge, it was hard not to feel an all too familiar sense of dread as the Omicron variant began to spread rapidly, setting all the wrong types of records in daily cases and positive tests.

We start this year once again with a growing surge of patients and all the physical and emotional challenges that come along with that. As we have over the past two years, we will continue to put in hard work and do our best to help our communities and to help each other.

Throughout the pandemic, it has at times been hard to maintain a positive outlook. In these moments, I have tried to remind myself of how inspiring it is to work in a place that is making an incredible impact in research, clinical care, and education. While this work is challenging and exhausting, we are fortunate to do it alongside colleagues who we would do anything to support.

While we focus on the meaning of our collective work, it is also important to remind ourselves of the hope, joy, and human connection that sustain us as individuals. Recently, a dear patient of mine who I’ve cared for over the course of many years passed away from his second battle with cancer.  While the news of his death made me sad, it also gave me the opportunity to pause, reflect, and remember the many special moments and conversations we shared over the years, in the clinic and when I would see him out at Carolina basketball games. Reflecting on our doctor-patient relationship and his many words of wisdom reminded me of the great privilege we have to be a part of people’s lives and share in their journeys.

Maybe your version of that story would be seeing an idea take shape over many late nights of work, sparking a research project with the potential to change lives. Or, maybe a teaching moment and conversation that helped a learner see a path they hadn’t considered. Each of these moments spur us forward.

As we enter 2022, so many aspects of our world seem uncertain. Thanks to your tireless work, however, the future vision we have for our School of Medicine is coming into focus. We can see it take shape as we walk past the construction of Roper Hall. We can clearly envision impacts on the health of our state as we continue to grow our educational collaboration with Novant in Wilmington and Charlotte. Each day, we are doing the work necessary to continue the trajectory of record-breaking research funding and thinking of the impacts that will create for many years to come.

We do all of that working together in an environment that celebrates diverse voices and is inclusive of each of your unique talents.

There will certainly be challenges ahead, but we will face them together. Thank you for all you do each day and all you will do through this year as we continue to advance our missions.