As a partial solution to the need to provide more physician training opportunities in Nevada, the University of Nevada School of Medicine formed two new major hospital partnerships earlier this year.
In May, the School of Medicine and Renown Health announced preliminary agreement on an initial five-year plan to benefit northern Nevadans and significantly increase the number of physicians who train and practice in Nevada. The recommendations of a joint steering committee included the creation of a formal affiliation agreement between both organizations and a joint leadership team to guide and oversee the implementation of new medical educational and research programs at the School of Medicine's Reno campus.
While Renown Health has committed $5 million over the next three years toward the implementation of the five-year plan and this strategic partnership, success in achieving the goals will ultimately depend upon funding from the State of Nevada, private donors, grants and other sources of income.
"The steering committee has been acutely aware of the extraordinary opportunity provided by this affiliation to transform medical care and medical education in northern Nevada through the creation of a full, four-year medical school campus and expanded student and resident teaching capacity," said Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., School of Medicine dean.
"We're committed to moving forward to implement new programs in ways that are ambitious, strategic and responsible."
Donald C. Sibery, then-interim CEO of Renown Health said: "It is exciting to see two of the largest non-profit organizations in northern Nevada come together in a collaboration that benefits our community, the region and the entire state of Nevada. This will change the trajectory of medical education and healthcare delivery in Northern Nevada, helping to ensure increased access to healthcare in the area for generations to come."
The new president and chief executive officer of Renown Health, Anthony Slonim, M.D., Dr.PH, has picked up where Sibery left off, with a full commitment to the growing a successful partnership.
"With our recent partnership with the University of Nevada School of Medicine, we have the distinct privilege of being able to partner to provide the education and training for physicians who will serve our communities for decades to come. We are honored to serve in this capacity," said Slonim.
In addition to Schwenk and Sibery, the steering committee consisted of Renown and School of Medicine leaders, local and rural physicians and community leaders. The committee also included Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Daniel Klaich, Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Page, Renown Health Board of Governors Chairman David Line and Renown Regional Medical Center Chairman of the Board of Directors Blake Smith.
Bruce James, president and CEO of Nevada New-Tech, Inc., former National Institutes of Health Advisory Board Chairman, former Public Printer of the United States and chief executive officer of the U. S. Government Printing Office, served as committee chairman.
While the School of Medicine and Renown have had an affiliation to train internal medicine and family medicine residents for many years, this collaboration magnifies that relationship in several significant ways, particularly in expanding medical student teaching capacity in partnership with community physicians in northern Nevada.
A month later, MountainView Hospital and the University of Nevada School of Medicine formally agreed to work toward the development of an expanded graduate medical education program based at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas.
All graduate medical education positions are open to applicants from any accredited medical school. The planned program will represent a significant increase in existing positions in southern Nevada, from the current 233 to 380 or more, in several primary care and specialty disciplines. The program will help enhance the local supply of physicians serving southern Nevada and help to improve patient care access for the Las Vegas community. The expected start of the first residency program at MountainView Hospital could be as early as July 2016, depending on the speed with which a final affiliation agreement is reached.
Preliminary discussions have focused on training programs in critically needed primary care areas of internal medicine, family medicine and geriatrics, as well as general surgery, urology, neurology and other selected medical and surgical subspecialties.
The total program size of 250 or more additional resident positions will be developed over a five-year window.
The major expansion in southern Nevada residency training opportunities proposed in the partnership between the School of Medicine and MountainView Hospital is expected to have a significant impact on new physicians staying in Nevada to practice.
"The announcement that MountainView Hospital and the University of Nevada School of Medicine have joined together to create an expanded graduate medical education program for Nevada is commendable," said Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.
"I look forward to MountainView accepting its first residents and for the larger impact this will have on Nevada health care."
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said: "This is only going to help our state and is a giant step toward our long-awaited goal of establishing an expanded, quality graduate medical education program in Nevada."
"This is an innovative program for Las Vegas and MountainView Hospital. We are looking forward to working with the University of Nevada School of Medicine toward a graduate medical education program," said Chris Mowan, chief executive officer at MountainView Hospital.
"We want to help grow the pipeline of new physicians, and we want them to stay in our community. Offering medical students more options for their residency will keep more physicians in Nevada and assist as we continue to elevate patient care in our community."
"This partnership with MountainView Hospital is incredibly exciting, and is particularly notable because private hospitals have not traditionally affiliated with medical schools for large residency training programs," said Schwenk.
"This agreement is a tribute to the vision and leadership of MountainView's medical staff, the Board of Trustees and the entire care team. This affiliation could lead to 50 to 60 residency and fellowship graduates each year who have a high likelihood of staying in southern Nevada and enhancing its health and health care."
School of Medicine/Renown affiliation launches with neurology program
Top row from left to right are neurologists John Rothrock, M.D., medical director of the Renown Institute of Neurosciences; Adel Aziz, M.D.; and Melissa Bloch, M.D. Bottom row from left to right are Ivan Lopez, M.D., director of the Renown Institute for Neurosciences Stroke Center; Barbara Schwartz, M.D.; and Jonathan Spivak, M.D. Photos courtesy of Renown Health.
The Renown Health and School of Medicine steering committee recommended a strategic partnership with a number of key expectations, beginning with the establishment of a new neurology department at the medical school.
Pending approval from the Board of Regents, noted Renown Institute of Neurosciences medical director and neurologist John Rothrock, M.D., will be the department's founding chair.
School of Medicine Department of Neurology faculty members also will come from the Renown Institute of Neurosciences.
These physician faculty members will be involved both in enhanced teaching in neurology-related courses during the first two years of medical school, and the clinical or clerkship (hospital and medical practice-based) teaching in the third- and fourth-years of medical school.
In addition, with the goal of reducing the significant shortage of neurologists in Nevada, a new residency in neurology as well as a fellowship program in headache medicine are in the planning stages for launch in the next two to three years.
Residency programs are required after medical school to prepare doctors to practice medicine in a medical specialty, and fellowship programs follow residency for doctors who wish to practice in subspecialty areas.
Neurology residency takes three years to complete, and headache fellowship is an additional year.
Ivan Lopez, M.D., director of the Renown Institute for Neurosciences Stroke Center, has been named program director of the planned neurology residency and headache fellowship.
"The neurology residency and headache fellowship programs will help to mitigate neurologist shortages statewide, as well as increase access to patient care and heighten quality of care statewide," said Miriam Bar-on, M.D., associate dean of graduate medical education.
"These enhancements of neuroscience teaching will reach across the medical school curriculum and through neurology residency and headache fellowship programs," added Timothy Baker, M.D.'04, associate dean for medical education.
"They will span the spectrum of medical education."