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School of Medicine moves forward following 2015 Legislature


img_0005_lowrez1-150x150-2994331-3235541The Nevada legislature has made a major commitment and appropriated support to expand public medical education in the state. As UNLV focuses on creating a medical school in southern Nevada, an equally important commitment has been made to create a full, four-year campus in Reno at Nevada’s first, and still statewide public medical school, the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

Historically, the School of Medicine has been driven by geography, with two partial campuses separated by 450 miles and the vastness of Nevada’s rural communities.

With the help of $5.5 million in incremental support from the Legislature (over the coming biennium), the School of Medicine will return to its roots and focus on primary care education and training with a research-intensive, community-based vision, new and strong hospital and community physician partnerships and outreach to Nevada’s rural areas.

“We are coming home—but with a long tradition of excellence, new support, new partners and opportunities to take our growth and excellence to new levels,” said Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine.

He continued by saying that the School of Medicine’s renewed commitment to northern Nevada, while maintaining its statewide vision including new residency training partnerships in Las Vegas, will position it to better meet the massive needs and challenges brought on by health care reform, new health care technologies and new ways of delivering primary care.

The School of Medicine’s partnership with Renown Health will provide the clinical platform to be a strong contributor to improving the health of entire populations of patients, with an emphasis on clinical and translational research that improves the delivery of health care.

Every medical student will have the opportunity to experience the excitement of research — from the biomedical laboratory to community needs assessments — as part of their formal education.

“We can focus on stronger and closer collaborations with other entities within the Division of Health Sciences at UNR, such as the Schools of Social Work and Community Health Sciences. And it means our clinical faculty, community physicians who have come forward with great enthusiasm to serve as teachers, will become core partners in linking clinical care, teaching and research to improve health and health care in Nevada,” Schwenk said.

With the funding received from the 2015 legislature, the University of Nevada School of Medicine will focus at first on the following opportunities:

  • The integration of its Department of Pediatrics with Renown Children’s Hospital under the leadership of a newly-recruited Chair and Pediatrician-in-Chief.
  • The assimilation of the Renown Institute of Neurosciences as the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology.
  • The creation of an Office of Community Faculty to provide one-stop shopping for the many community physicians who will become a core part of the medical school’s teaching faculty.
  • Expansion of the school’s Office of Academic Affairs for teaching of third- and fourth-year medical students, done to this point primarily in Las Vegas, to shift to new experiences in Reno and rural communities.
  • New collaborations in clinical research and the infrastructure necessary to support physician-scientists.

Much of the legislative support will be used to create dozens of new teaching positions in Reno. Several private medical specialty practices have expressed interest in becoming teaching practices and contributing to the education of tomorrow’s physicians.

While the School of Medicine’s focus will be mostly on building the Reno campus, it will retain teaching programs in Las Vegas that add tremendous value to the educational experiences of students.

“We plan to selectively maintain those southern Nevada learning opportunities in order to give our students the widest experience of urban and rural medical care, as well as exposure to residency and fellowship training in Las Vegas,” Schwenk said.

The next phase of growth and development for the University of Nevada School of Medicine will play to its strengths: a strong history of basic science research, new partnerships with Renown Health and other health care institutions and community physicians, and the support of critical donors, friends and alumni.

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