Reflections from the Dean

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Strategic planning documents are often put on a shelf, never to be implemented. Not at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine!

One year ago, we used the anticipated expansion of the state’s public medical education enterprise to unveil a strategic plan designed to provide data-driven guidance as we developed our northern Nevada campus and statewide vision. The process was informed by the input of an impressive array of UNR Med faculty and staff members, students, and stakeholders. We organized the results into five key infrastructural pillars that defined and organized our next steps: Expanding Curriculum, Graduate Medical Education, Clinical and Translational Research, Strategic Recruitment and Institutional Identity and Climate.

Since the plan’s launch 12 months ago, we have already achieved more than a quarter of the goals set and are on track to hit nearly all of the remaining objectives. I am proud to share with you just some of the key strategic plan achievements that have been made by our faculty and staff members, residents and community partners:

Expanding Curriculum: Provide an integrated and rigorous 4-year curriculum rooted in the northern Nevada community.

With approval from the Nevada System of Higher Education, UNR Med is adding three new clinical departments—OB/GYN, Surgery and Emergency Medicine—to enhance our students’ medical education, with interim department chair appointments for two of the departments and plans for national searches for permanent chairs.

Graduate Medical Education: Establish the Graduate Medical Education (GME) support, infrastructure and resources to implement northern Nevada residency expansion.

A new GME Office has been established in northern Nevada with David Carlson, M.D. appointed as Associate Dean and Designated Institutional Officer (DIO) for GME. We have recruited new residents and fellows to fill expanding training capacity in primary care internal medicine, rural family medicine, psychiatry and geriatrics.

Clinical and Translational Research: Develop an institutional research strategy and invest in a clinical research enterprise.

We have appointed Danielle Eaton to a new role – Director of Research Operations and Administration. Some of her responsibilities include providing guidance and support to medical students pursuing clinical research with faculty mentors. Additionally, we have launched the search for an endowed faculty position in neurodegenerative diseases and movement disorders which will include substantial clinical research.

Strategic Recruitment: Recruit diverse, top faculty and medical students to northern Nevada.

We have well exceeded our goal to increase the number of community faculty members from 636 in 2016 to 775 in 2019, with more than 1,000 community faculty members (almost all physicians) statewide. We have also established a new Office for Diversity and Inclusion, led by Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Nicole Jacobs, Ph.D.

Institutional Identity and Climate: Develop and promote ourselves as an outstanding, inclusive and high-quality community-based medical school.

A research-intensive, community-engaged identity begins with a shared awareness of our history, our values, our mission and our vision. UNR Med’s New Faculty Orientation process has been markedly expanded and implemented twice in the past year, providing new faculty members a comprehensive and informative onboarding experience. A task force has been charged with the responsibility to identify strategies for improving our institutional culture and engagement.

In an effort to increase the school’s inclusive nature, monthly Diversity Dialogues allow students, faculty and staff members to come together for productive facilitated discussions on issues related to diversity and inclusion. Maintaining this core value fosters a safe learning environment for all of our leaners and cultivates culturally competent physicians prepared to care for a wide range of patients.

We will report again on the next batch of objectives achieved as we look toward the future for more ways to grow and thrive, both as a medical education institution and as a community partner.


Julie Ardito, APR
Senior Director, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 784-6006

Tessa Bowen
Communications Manager, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 682-9254

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision that has served Nevada for nearly 50 years as its first public medical school. UNR Med’s vision is a healthy Nevada, supported by our mission: establishing excellence in medical education, medical care, research and community engagement, while committing to a culture of respect, compassion and inclusion. Through targeted growth and investment in research, clinical services, education and outreach, UNR Med is a resource for improving healthcare regionally and across the country. For more information, visit: