Reflections from the Dean

News & Events

Thomas Schwenk

January is the month of possibilities, fresh starts and New Year's resolutions.

At the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, our version of a New Year's resolution is revisiting our strategic plan. Dr. Melissa Piasecki, executive associate dean, has said many times, "the strategic plan is not meant to be placed on a shelf and forgotten." She has insisted—and I completely agree—that we treat our strategic plan as a living, breathing document intended to guide UNR Med's future through mission-based initiatives and accountability.

One of the pillars of the strategic plan focuses on mission-based growth:

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

Last summer, UNR Med announced the receipt of a $1.2 million grant from the State of Nevada designed to create a new Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The grant will help improve women's health in the region while providing an exceptional learning environment for UNR Med students who seek quality training and careers in women's health care.

Today, we are excited to make a similar announcement about the launch of a Reno-based Department of Surgery with esteemed local surgeons, Dr. James Harris and Dr. Lori Rawson, as co-chairs.

With the help of our partners—Renown Health, the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System and other northern Nevada-based clinical sites—the new department will enhance office and hospital training for our third-year medical students with a comprehensive surgery clerkship experience. Student experiences will include supervised patient care in the hospital and the offices of private and VA surgeons, pre-operative and post-operative care, assisting in the operation room and management of patients in acute care settings.

This level of exposure and hands-on education is especially important in the third-year as medical students begin to investigate their career options. Nearly 20 percent of our graduating UNR Med students match to a surgical residency in their fourth year, and we want them to be enticed to stay and practice here.

We need to match the state's population growth with programs that train new physicians in many specialties. Establishing a new UNR Med Department of Surgery is one example of how our state can keep or bring back to Nevada new physicians who will contribute to improving health care for all Nevadans.

Wait, there's more!

UNR Med's mission-based growth ultimately depends on people—like Drs. Harris and Rawson—who fill critical academic and leadership roles. Supporting the growth and success of our faculty members is one of our most important tasks. I am proud to announce the promotion or award of tenure to the following academic faculty members:

It has already been an exciting year for UNR Med, and the year has barely begun. More next month!

Media Contacts

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

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

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.