Reflections from the Dean

News & Events

Thomas Schwenk

August is always an exciting month at UNR Med as new students arrive to begin their medical studies and careers. This August was more exciting than usual as UNR Med welcomed the class of 2021 to our fully northern Nevada-based medical school with a new and exciting orientation experience-MedFIT.

MedFIT is modeled after NevadaFIT, the academic bootcamp for incoming University of Nevada, Reno undergraduates. Rather than a quick one- or two-day orientation, where students are told about our School of Medicine, they got to experience UNR Med firsthand.

Students were involved in activities designed to build relationships with UNR Med and main campus faculty and staff, and perhaps more importantly, with each other. The two-week orientation included labs, lectures, team building exercises, passports directing them to collect stickers and have one-on-ones with faculty and leadership, and Art Rounds-an innovative visual teaching strategy session-and concluded with Family Day and the time-honored White Coat Ceremony.

Family Day gave our students' friends and family members an introduction to what the next four years and beyond hold for these new students. The White Coat Ceremony concluded with each student committing to a lifetime of learning, teaching and compassionate care by reciting the Honor Pledge. The ceremony gave the wider UNR Med community the chance to get to know a bit more about our 70 new students. In total they speak 20 languages, have lived in or traveled to 28 countries and have interests ranging from skydiving to playing the French horn to fighting wildfires.

Once the festivities came to an end August 11, our students went to work. Classes began August 14, and I had the pleasure of working with first-year students in the Student Outreach Clinic (SOC) the very next day. UNR Med first-year students receive immediate hands-on experience with patients at the SOC, where they are supervised by licensed faculty and community physicians to provide medical care to those in the community who would otherwise go without.

UNR Med is focused on student success, which is demonstrated in a 98.2 percent match rate and a spot in the nation's top 20 most affordable medical schools. But we don't rest on these data. We are constantly engaged in conversations with students to look for ways to evolve, improve, and meet their needs. The new MedFIT program is an example of how we used feedback to improve the orientation experience for first-year students and actively incorporate our mission and values in the foundation of a rich medical education.

MedFIT is just one example of how we contribute to the success of the class of 2021 and many classes yet to come.

I will have the opportunity in the upcoming UNR Med 2017 State of the School Address, Tuesday, September 12, to highlight the many components of a successful and sustainable School of Medicine and how they all work together to usher in a new era of Nevada medical education.


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: