2015 Mentoring Program Projects

Mentoring Program Presentations Reveal Research

2015 Faculty Mentor Program Reno Participants

Shown above from left to right: Jennifer Hagen, M.D., associate dean of Office of Faculty Development and associate professor of internal medicine; 2015 Reno Participants Darryll Patterson, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine, and Saul Zelan, M.D., former assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; and Thomas Schwenk, M.D., School of Medicine Dean and Division of Health Sciences Vice President.

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine's inaugural mentoring program participants had the opportunity to present their year-long projects in special programs preceding the State of the School Address events on September 16 in Reno and September 17 in Las Vegas. Mentoring program participants, or mentees, chose specific projects that they felt would help their academic career development, and mentors who would offer specific support for these projects.

The mentoring program was launched as one of the responses to an identified need from the school's Faculty Forward© survey. The program is based on models that have been shown to be effective in assisting academic faculty in their career growth and satisfaction.

Saul Zelan, M.D.

Saul Zelan, M.D., former assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in Reno, was mentored by Brian Kirkpatrick, M.D., psychiatry and behavioral sciences department chair. Zelan described his project: analyzing the effectiveness of treatments for binge eating disorders, using the technique of meta-analysis. This technique reviews the results of many studies to give clinicians data on overall effectiveness of various therapies.

Zelan's investigation found that dialectical behavior therapy, a type of therapy originally developed for patients with suicidal depression and self-harm behaviors, was more effective than acceptance and commitment therapy.

Dr. Zelan noted that very few comparisons existed previously comparing dialectical behavior therapy and other therapies. "We are very close to having publishable results on the effect of dialectical behavior therapy on binge eating," he concluded.

Darryll Patterson, M.D.

Darryll Patterson, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine, focused his mentoring project on the best ways to educate medical residents regarding one of the most pervasive problems facing physicians today: managing patients with chronic pain who are using opioids. Mentored by Miriam Bar-on, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education, Patterson studied specifically the millennial age group, those born between 1982 and 2004.

Patterson used two different simulated patient scenarios: one with a new patient who currently was on narcotics for chronic pain and another scenario addressing an existing patient's request to increase narcotic dosage.

In teaching best behaviors for physicians, he found that millennial learners prefer short prepared presentations with frequent facilitated role-playing exercises followed by immediate feedback and assessment of their behaviors. "We are further developing training for simulation patients and will be piloting an instructional model," he said.

Nadia Gomez, M.D.

Nadia Gomez, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in Las Vegas, researched the effects of video instruction on learning and whether surgical skills can be transferred to the operating room through virtual reality simulation. She was mentored by Vani Dandolu, M.D., professor, chair and residency program director of obstetrics and gynecology and Echezona Ezeanolue, M.D., associate professor and vice-chair of pediatrics.

Gomez's project studied two groups; one group watched video instruction on a specific surgical procedure, the other group did not, but both groups were then asked to perform the specific surgical task in the operating room.

Her project was successful in studying the benefits of enhanced learning on individuals exposed to video instruction. Gomez submitted her study and was awarded a grant by Intuitive Surgical for further research at the university in robotic-assisted surgery training. "It provided motivation for research among colleagues and residents in our department," she said.

Wilfredo Torres, M.D.

Wilfredo Torres, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in Las Vegas, was mentored by Iain Buxton, Pharm.D., Regents Professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology and physiology and Foundation Professor and chairman. Torres' program topic was on increasing the outreach of group prenatal care. During the study, he was able to hire a patient coordinator who has assisted with increasing outreach among prenatal care patients. As a result, attrition also has decreased.

Torres' initial goal for the project was to increase enrollment by 200 percent or obtain 12 enrollees per month. This came from the help of the patient coordinator, who worked with other providers and emergency rooms to encourage enrollment. Torres was able to achieve an average of 12.7 participant enrollment each month and was able to lower the rate of preterm labor.

This project, Torres believed, gave the OB/GYN department a greater opportunity to make significant contributions to the study. He also was pleased with his ability to achieve the desired outcome, benefitting the overall health of the community.

Lawrence Shaw, M.D.

Lawrence Shaw, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in Las Vegas, presented on the effect of a patient care coordinator on follow-up for abnormal pregnancy. The goal of his project was to capture emergency room patients with abnormal pregnancies and improve their outcomes. In addition, he also wanted to improve resident training in the clinic in this area.

Shaw was mentored by Kenneth Izuora, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine in Las Vegas, who guided him to increase provider awareness by including a patient care coordinator specifically instructed on providing follow-up care to patients. The patient care coordinator also was instructed to work with providers, emergency rooms and the resident clinic to develop an awareness of abnormal pregnancies and the need for follow-up care.

The project has completed its initial survey on providers, but Shaw still plans to analyze results after further outreach from the coordinator takes place. The initial survey results show that increased awareness in the form of patient handouts is needed. "The result analysis will hopefully show more office visits, more office procedures and increased emergency medicine provider awareness, compared to the baseline," Shaw said.

Laura Shaw, M.D.

Laura Shaw, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine in Las Vegas, was mentored by Gwen Shonkwiler, Ph.D., director of evaluation and assessment in the office of medical education. Shaw's research was on improving provider competence and patient safety during obstetrical emergencies. She did this by incorporating the Basic Life Support in Obstetrics (BLSO) program into medical student curriculum and offering the program to other health care providers like emergency department nurses, paramedics, EMTs, emergency department residents and urgent care providers.

Supported through her research and mentor, Shaw was able to conduct the BLSO course three times and served as the course co-director twice in the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine curriculum. She also was able to share it with rural Nevada locations and at various other events.

The surveys Shaw conducted on the perception of the BLSO program and improving provider competence during obstetrical emergencies was so successful that it is expected to be fully implemented in the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine 2016 curriculum. She also plans to present the material at several regional and national conferences in the future.