Fall 2015
Student Spotlight

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Kaleb Wartgow

Remaining Rural: Kaleb Wartgow, Class of 2016, at the University of Nevada, Reno Main Station Field Laboratory, plans to practice family medicine in rural Nevada. Photo by Anne McMillin.

Nevada Native Staying Local, Staying Rural

Story by Anne Pershing

The faculty at the University of Nevada School of Medicine work hard to encourage graduating students to practice medicine in Nevada, but in the case of fourth-year student Kaleb Wartgow, their work is already done.

"My wife and I are looking at the Yerington and Smith Valley areas to set up a family medicine practice because we love rural communities and we want to stay in Nevada. We also have another reason to stay here."

Kaleb, a fourth generation Nevadan, who was raised in Gardnerville near his grandfather's farm, and his wife, Amanda, who is from rural Forest Hills, Calif., were married four years ago and welcomed their first child last month. They want to raise their son in rural northern Nevada near family because of their love for the rural lifestyle and population.

Amanda explained that she works for the University of Nevada, Reno, as a rangeland ecologist. "I'm not quite a botanist. I'm a plant nerd which is what Kaleb calls me," she said with a smile. She added that she and Kaleb connected at the University when she was a sophomore majoring in animal science, and she fell in love with rural Nevada and doesn't want to leave it.

Kaleb, a 2006 graduate of Douglas High School in Gardnerville, graduated from the University in 2011 with a dual degree in biology and philosophy and thought he would become a firefighter like his dad, Bobby, a retired Douglas County deputy fire chief.

"Throughout college I did seasonal wildland firefighting and some emergency medicine and quickly realized that I really enjoyed the medicine part of things," he said. In addition to firefighting, he worked at the University farm at the Main Station Field Laboratory off McCarran Boulevard in Reno with the irrigation crew moving wheel lines, working on the pastures and fixing fences.

"I worked quite a bit with the livestock, too. However, by the end of my undergraduate studies, I knew I wanted to go to medical school to become an ER physician."

With the support of his parents, he applied to and was accepted at the School of Medicine, the only school he wanted to attend.

"The main reason I wanted Nevada was they want medical students from Nevada to stay here, which is what I wanted from the beginning. And while in medical school I fell in love with family medicine, and so I plan to be a rural Nevada family doctor."

As for his experiences in medical school, Kaleb exclaimed that, "there's a genuine passion for medical education amongst the faculty."

"My class is the first to go through the new system-based curriculum. The faculty and administration have listened to us as to what works and what doesn't in regard to our education. The good things that have come from this are smaller classes and smaller faculty/student ratio," he explained, adding: "The administration also works hard to break down the financial barriers for students and residents with available scholarships, which helps all of us so much."

"I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to earn my education here and I look forward to getting to work with the physicians I know through the school into residency and beyond. I have so much respect for our professors and truly admire their passion and dedication to teaching and producing excellent physicians," he said.

"I'm so proud to be Nevada-born with a Nevada education and to be getting the opportunity to serve the people of Nevada. I'm also grateful that our son is Nevada-born as well. He is the first grandson for my folks and the first grandchild for Amanda's folks, and he's going to live on a small ranch that Amanda wants to manage. It does not get any better than this."