Reflections from the Dean

News & Events

UNR Med Dean Thomas L. Schwenk

We are proud to announce the arrival of a new member of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine family! Our new Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Program arrives on July 2, the first PA program in the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Our inaugural class of 24 students will embark on a 25-month journey—including academic and clinical courses, clinical skills training and supervised clinical practice—to earn master's degrees in Physician Assistant Studies. Upon graduation, these bright students will become much-needed health care professionals, prepared and qualified to conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat common illnesses, order and interpret tests, write prescriptions and assist in surgeries, alongside and under the overall supervision of their physician colleagues. Their arrival is one more way UNR Med is addressing the health care shortage in Nevada.

Making this dream a reality for the state is the result of collaborative efforts between UNR Med, the Nevada System of Higher Education and Renown Health, with special thanks to generous support from the William N. Pennington Foundation. Together we have built this program from the ground up to create a best-in-class physician assistant education experience for our students, resulting in high quality health care for Nevadans.

I want to especially recognize UNR Med PA Studies Program Founding Director Brian Lauf, MPAS, PA-C. While the UNR Med team has been hard at work bringing this program to life over the past four years, this program has been Mr. Lauf's dream for nearly his entire career. This program would not have been developed, accredited and launched without his vision and expertise.

UNR Med is not just community-based; we are community-engaged, and I am proud to welcome this new program into that tradition of community excellence—a tradition built upon 50 years of experience. From students to residents to physicians, and now PAs, UNR Med is assembling highly trained medical teams for our patients.

I have practiced with PAs for my entire career. When I started a solo practice in a small Utah town almost exactly (to the day!) 40 years ago, my partnership with a PA was literally life-saving, not just for our patients but also for me. Our partnership taught me how to work effectively with other members of the health care team, and how much PAs contribute to that team.

Ensuring that all Nevadans have access to quality health care is of the utmost importance to all of us at the School of Medicine. This program adds to the contributions of our medical students, speech pathology and audiology students, and our residents and fellows in many specialties who help grow the state's health care workforce. I look forward to the exciting contributions this new PA program will make to our mission for A Healthy Nevada.

UNR Med Physician Assistant Studies Program Open House – June 15
Please join us at an open house and celebration of the new UNR Med Physician Assistant Studies Program Friday, June 15 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the Nell J. Redfield Campus. Tours of the facility will be available, and light refreshments provided.  

For questions, contact Alexis Hutchings. No advanced RSVP is required.

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.