University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine report addresses statewide physician shortage, shows growth

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A child receives an exam at the Student Outreach Clinic on the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine campus. UNR Med photo by Brin Reynolds.

A child receives an exam at the Student Outreach Clinic on the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine campus. UNR Med photo by Brin Reynolds. 

Doctors. They are an essential resource for impacting and improving the health and life spans of the population. However, demand for physicians in Nevada exceeds the current supply, with Nevada ranking No. 47 nationally for active physicians per 100,000 population. A new report on the state's licensed physician workforce shows promising data, with the number of licensed physicians in the state increasing over a decade (2005 to 2015).

The Physician Workforce in Nevada 2018 report, produced by the Office of Statewide Initiatives at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med), aims to improve health workforce planning and policy development in Nevada, designed to improve physician supply and demand.

"Data from this report documents steady growth in the number of physicians in Nevada across most specialties over the past 10 years," said lead author Tabor Griswold, Ph.D., health services research analyst for the Office of Statewide Initiatives. She cautions that "these gains have not kept pace with the state's rapid population growth in a number of specialty areas, including family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology and psychiatry."  

Highlights of the new Physician Workforce in Nevada report include:

  • The total number of licensed physicians in Nevada increased from 5,640 in 2005 to 7,429 in 2015 - an increase of 1,789 physicians or 31.7 percent.
  • Over the past decade, the number of physicians in almost every specialty area increased, including primary care, surgery and behavioral health.
  • Nevada has a strong record of retaining physicians who are educated and trained in the state. For example, in 2017, 76.7 percent of physicians who completed both undergraduate medical education, and graduate medical education in state, are currently practicing in Nevada (ranked No. 9 among U.S. states).  

This report will help address the state's current health care workforce rankings, as Nevada comes in at No. 48 out of all states for active primary care physicians, and No. 46 for physicians in accredited residency and fellowship programs.

Physician Workforce in Nevada report co-author John Packham, Ph.D., associate dean for the Office of Statewide Initiatives says, "Our state has made substantial progress in expanding undergraduate medical education opportunities for residents in both southern and northern Nevada." Packham continued, "The data confirms the need for state policymakers and educators to address the need to expand residency and fellowship programs that will ultimately keep doctors in Nevada."

Residency training location is a strong indication of where physicians will likely set up their medical practices following completion of residency and has strong implications for the future availability of health care professionals in a given area.

Approximately 34 percent of UNR Med's class of 2018 are staying in Nevada for some part of their residency training, and 49 percent matched in primary care, which includes family medicine, internal medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology.

"UNR Med is committed to increasing the number of physicians in Nevada by educating more medical students, retaining them as residents and ultimately as practicing physicians," said UNR Med Dean, Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. "We're thrilled that eight 2018 graduates will be staying in northern Nevada and 22 of our 2018 graduates have matched throughout the state. The fact that students want to train in Nevada supports our goal of training physicians who recognize the health care needs in our community and are committed to remaining or coming back to Nevada. A major component of that is our community-based and community-engaged curriculum model."

UNR Med, Nevada's first public medical school, will celebrate 50 years as a community-based medical school in 2019 and has educated more than 2,000 students, residents and fellows since it was established 1969. The School of Medicine has undergone significant positive and transformative growth to increase the number of health care professionals in Nevada by educating more physician assistants, medical students, residents and fellows.

In 2018 alone, UNR Med launched several new departments including a new department of surgery, a new Physician Assistant Studies Program and an OB-GYN program.

Earlier this year, UNR Med was granted full accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) through 2026. The designation confirms that UNR Med's programs, faculty, resources and partnerships are meeting or exceeding national standards for medical education. 

Media Contacts

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 50 years. The state's first public medical school, UNR Med fosters a healthy Nevada through excellence in medical education, medical care, research and community engagement, within a culture of respect, compassion and inclusion. Through targeted growth and investment in research, clinical services, education and outreach, UNR Med is improving the future of health care. For more information, visit our 50th anniversary website.

Released: Monday July 23, 2018 @ 4:00 PM