2020: an unexpected year that surpassed expectations, focus of UNR Med State of the School Address

Annual report on institution, medical education, clinical care and research shows School of Medicine and University Health are catalysts for a healthier Nevada

A photo of UNR Med Dean Schwenk delivering the 2020 State of the School Address.

Dr. Thomas L. Schwenk, dean of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, delivers UNR Med's 2020 State of the School Address, virtually, on Monday, Sept. 21. UNR Med photo by Brin Reynolds.

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) hosted its 2020 State of the School Address, an annual report on the state of the institution, medical education programs, faculty, research and clinical developments earlier this evening.

The virtual event is available for on-demand viewing on UNR Med's YouTube channel.

UNR Med Dean Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. delivered the annual State of the School Address, themed "In This Moment," which highlighted the achievements of UNR Med and its clinical practice, University Health during the COVID-19 pandemic. "2020 was not the year we expected, but it was certainly a year that surpassed all expectations, he said. "Even during the most difficult of moments, we continue to achieve, to demonstrate empathy without end, and to exemplify the mission and core values of UNR Med and University Health."

Schwenk reported on the past 12 months in the following categories of moments:

Moment of Truth
Schwenk addressed the work of the Nevada State Public Health Lab (NSPHL) and the leadership of NSPHL Director Mark Pandori, Ph.D., which monitored and responded to COVID-19 testing statewide, from the onset of the first case in Nevada on March 5, 2020. UNR Med basic and clinical research teams collaborated to better understand the virus, identify therapeutic treatments and inform the state's public health response.

Rising to the Moment
University Health staff and faculty members were on the front lines of COVID-19 to care for patients for in-office and virtual visits, all under state and local health and safety guidelines endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical students volunteered more than 5,000 hours to the community's response to COVID-19, including staffing COVID-19 hotlines at REMSA and in rural communities, conducting health screenings at the Washoe County School District and providing day-to-day support to health care staff. University Health continued to expand clinical locations into the Reno/Sparks community in 2020 to improve access to quality care for Nevadans, while enhancing medical education by training future physicians.

More than a Moment, a Movement
Schwenk focused on the responsibility of health care professionals, scientists and educators to address a form of racism expressed in the significant disparities in health and health care that the pandemic has revealed.

Surviving the Moment-to-Moment
The pandemic has led to a nationwide economic crisis that has hit Nevada particularly hard. Schwenk reported that state funding for higher education has been reduced by nearly 20%, resulting in hiring freezes, employee furloughs, and departmental budget cuts, as well as reductions in Medicaid reimbursement.

Moments for Celebration
Schwenk recognized UNR Med staff for finding innovative, creative new ways celebrate its learners, including hosting the first-ever virtual Hooding ceremony for the Class of 2020; welcoming the incoming Class of 2024 with a virtual White Coat Ceremony; and marking the inaugural Physician Assistant Studies Program graduation with a hybrid ceremony.

Continuing with Momentum
Schwenk reported on UNR Med's intent to affiliate with Renown Health, stating that "the integration could transform both organizations, enhancing our ability to thrive, not just survive, and more importantly, affiliating could transform medical care in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area and northern Nevada."

For more on UNR Med's 2020 State of the School Address and to download the 2020-2021 UNR Med/University Health Fact Sheet visit med.unr.edu/events/sosa.


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.

Released: Monday September 21, 2020 @ 6:30 PM