Reflections from the Dean

News & Events

UNR Med Dean Thomas L. Schwenk

Graduate medical education, or GME, is the more formal phrase for what we call residency and fellowship training. It is the next step in medical education after medical school, and what dominates the thinking and preparation of all medical students. Medical school sets the stage for becoming a well-trained physician, but it is GME that brings down the curtain on the final act before these new physicians start their careers.

But GME does so much more.

GME is a major influence in how we address health care workforce shortages. The 2018-2020 Washoe County Community Health Needs Assessment ranked health care providers as one of the greatest needs. The Association of American Medical College (AAMC) 2017 State Physician Workforce Data Report Workforce Data Report ranked Nevada No. 47 in the nation for active physicians per capita.

These low rankings and high needs are ultimately only solved with robust GME programs. Increasing our pipeline of medical school graduates is important, but GME is the final piece to the complex puzzle of expanding our physician workforce in Nevada. GME provides opportunities to recruit selectively to underserved patient populations of particularly great need, to retain new physicians in Nevada to balance out physician retirement and to expand the range of primary care and specialty services available in the state.

Residency and fellowship graduates have a high likelihood of staying to practice where they train, and that is especially true in Nevada. According to the AAMC's Nevada Physician Workforce Profile, 39 percent of those who attend medical school in Nevada are likely to practice in the state, but 54 percent of those who come from other medical schools for residency training in Nevada will stay. A remarkable 77 percent who complete both undergraduate education and residency training in Nevada are likely to stay.

More than ever, Nevada needs new and expanded GME programs to better serve Nevadans both rural and urban. Residents are also major contributors to medical care even while in training for underserved patients who seek care from medical schools and teaching hospitals.  Governor Sandoval and the Nevada legislature have been supportive of expanding Nevada GME programs through start-up funding, now $15 million total in the last three years, of which nearly $5 million has benefitted programs in northern Nevada.At UNR Med, we offer residencies in internal medicine, family medicine and psychiatry, and fellowship programs in geriatrics, hospice and palliative care, sports medicine and child and adult psychiatry. Nearly all of these programs have expanded in one way or another through start-up support from the Governor's budget, and sustaining support from our major partners at Renown Health, the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, the Nevada Health Centers in Elko, among others.

And, we continue to grow. We have a new GME office in northern Nevada; we created a new Community Advisory Board; and we are developing proposals for new training programs in pediatrics and neurology.

I'm also proud to share with you that UNR Med was selected by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) as one of nine Pathway Leaders. We are among a group of national institutions that will form a Patient Safety Collaborative focusing on creating and testing a framework for residents and fellows to engage with their learning environments in promoting a culture of safety.

GME is a critical part of the solution for Nevada's health care workforce deficits. Through the training and retention of future physicians, UNR Med-with the help of our state and local partners-is moving closer to achieving our goal of creating A Healthy Nevada.  

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.