Dr. Dennis T. Yamamoto, March 2017

Each day our community faculty illustrate their commitment to educating future physicians through their passion for teaching and examples of excellence. The Office for Community Faculty would like to shine a spotlight on one of the greatest assets of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, our community faculty. You are making a difference in the lives of medical students, patients, and in our communities.

This month's spotlight is Dennis T. Yamamoto, M.D., Digestive Health Associates, Clinical Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine.

How long have you been serving as a Community Faculty member?

I became community faculty in 1991 and have served ever since.

How do you serve as a Community Faculty member?

I am a preceptor to first year students, give residency training lectures, teach electives with Digestive Health Associates and lecture to the first and second year students.

What is your favorite part about being a Community Faculty member?

My favorite part is seeing students and residents learn. Teaching life lessons through medicine.

What would you tell other physicians who are thinking about serving as Community Faculty?

Becoming a community faculty member is a way to give back to the profession. It does take time, but it is quite rewarding. It is one of many things in the day that keeps me honest and keeps me up to date with well evaluated data.

What impactful experience have you had as a Community Faculty member?

One of many things I do in Reno is to give lunch time talks to students in "at risk" high schools about a career in health care. The students are from families that have not had much formal education. Few (if any) of these students have college-educated parents let alone parents who finished high school. I start my talk by asking the students, "How many of you are 16 and 17 years of age?" Almost all raise their hands. Then I say, "My education after high school graduation to become a gastroenterologist, has taken as long as you have been alive." I say this to give them a perspective of what it takes but I quickly add, "If someone told me when I graduated from high school that it would take 16-17 years of formal education to become a gastroenterologist, I would have said, "you are crazy, I am not going to do that!" My point is that if I could do it, anyone can do it. It is not easy but nothing worthwhile is easy and comes quickly. About 10 years after one of these lunch talks, I was approached by a first-year medical student at UNR Med. She came up to me to thank me for the talk and how she got the message and was now in medical school.

Why do you continue serving as a Community Faculty member with the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine?

I get a sense of fulfillment. It is my way to give back to my profession. I am a graduate of a community based medical school with no formal university hospital. Much of my learning came from community physicians who volunteered their time.