Nevada elected officials and community leaders are medical students for a day at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine  

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Project Medical Education Nevada participants observe a UNR Med student at work in the anatomy lab.

Jack Smith, associate director, VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, Deena Behnke, UNR foundation trustee, University of Nevada, Reno and Jim DeVolld, managing director, Frist Independent Bank observe a UNR Med student at work in the anatomy lab. UNR Med photo by Brin Reynolds. For additional photos, click on "Download Press Packet," below.

State legislators, city officials, CEOs and community leaders learned firsthand today what it takes to become a doctor when they experienced four years of medical school in one day! From a human heart dissection, to learning how to suture, participating in medical simulation labs and research meetings, the group had a full-on immersion into a day in the life of a medical student.

The unique experience today was part of Project Medical Education Nevada, a community outreach program that the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) hosts annually to give lawmakers and civic leaders a behind-the-scenes look into what it takes to train future physicians for Nevada and the nation.

The program is in its 7th year in Nevada and about 120 people have participated since its inception. In addition to experiencing a day in a life of a medical student, participants learn about the opportunities and challenges facing medical schools and teaching hospitals in the state. 

Today, Project Medical Education provided 12 participants an opportunity to meet with UNR Med faculty, researchers and staff members, medical students and residents. The program included an overview of the School of Medicine, the experience of being "admitted" to medical school, and various hands-on interactions in the lab and simulation center that illustrated a medical student's pathway to becoming a fully-trained physician. 

Side-by-side with medical students and residents, participants experienced how students and residents are taught, how they care for patients and how they learn clinical skills. The mini-curriculum also included financing medical education, the role of a state medical school and relationships with community partners in educating and training doctors, conducting research and providing patient care.
"Today was an excellent opportunity for government, business, health care and community leaders to experience our community-based medical education firsthand and witness the rigorous, comprehensive training of physicians and health care professionals in our state," said UNR Med Dean Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D.

Schwenk continued, "Medical education is the foundation and future of our state's and nation's health care systems. It's important that we provide our community leaders with the opportunity to explore the complex, collaborative process managed by UNR Med for the benefit of medical students, and indirectly for the benefit of our community. This process requires substantial intellectual and financial resources, and tremendous commitment and expertise on the part of our faculty and staff."

Project Medical Education Nevada is adapted from an Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) program. Approximately 80 medical schools from across the country host e similar programs to inform elected officials, policy makers and community leaders about the value of public medical education in the United States.

Since the school was established in 1969, UNR Med has trained 3,500 physicians as either medical students and/or residents, with approximately 40 percent practicing in Nevada.  

The School of Medicine has undergone significant growth to increase the number of health care professionals in Nevada in the past 50 years by educating more physician assistants, medical students, residents, fellows, speech pathologists, audiologists and researchers. In 2018, UNR Med launched several new departments in Reno, including departments of surgery and obstetrics/gynecology and a Physician Assistant Studies Program. In 2019, UNR Med opened a clinical research center on campus and relocated its Internal Medicine Multispecialty Care, the first clinical department to operate as University Health,to its new location at 6130 Plumas Street in Reno. In 2020, UNR Med is planning additional clinical expansions in Reno.


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.