Fall 2011
Leaving Las Vegas not an option

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Christopher Mercado

Mercado plans to remain in Las Vegas following residency training.

By Laura Levin

Even though he is a Los Angeles native, Chris Mercado, M.D. '11, considers himself a Las Vegas resident.

He graduated from Durango High School, then the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before attending the University of Nevada School of Medicine for his undergraduate medical education. It only makes sense that he would continue his residency training in Las Vegas.

"The Las Vegas family medicine program is the place where I fell in love with family medicine," he said.

"The program itself is growing and expanding and it is very exciting to be a part of that. I have had direct contact with the preceptors and residents in the program and they are all intelligent, friendly, and hard-working individuals who I wanted to work with."

The residency program offers a variety of cases and pathology, opportunities for experiencing different procedures and a variety of follow-on fellowships.

"The faculty are all approachable, love to teach and have a direct interest in the success of each of their residents," Mercado said.

"They have a focus on community outreach programs including tobacco use education to elementary students, free clinics for the needy and sports physicals for high schools."

Several factors played into Mercado's decision to stay in Las Vegas.

"Most important were my family and fiancée who are all here in Las Vegas. Secondly, I feel that Las Vegas has given so much to me in terms of my education that I wanted to give back by staying here for my residency then hopefully opening up a clinic or working for the University as a career," he said.

Mercado knew he wanted to be in the medical field early on.

"I have always been interested in medicine because I have a fond interest in science, helping others and teaching," Mercado said.

"Medicine has a unique combination in all three of these. It is one of the only fields that is consistently growing; and in order to properly take care of others and teach, one must consistently learn and grow."

While he always was interested in the medicine, his love for the field was sparked by one particular moment.

"I was shadowing Dr. Francis Jimenez at the West Charleston Medical Center," he said.

"It was the importance of communication and education that he emphasized that really endeared me to the field. I feel that patients must be properly educated about their own health, the different pathophysiology behind their diseases and the different treatment options so that they can be completely involved in their health care."

Mercado believes that by having a stronger understanding of their own disease, patients will be able to take a more active approach in following through with doctor recommendations."

This was the first, but not the last, place that I saw this principle in action. I truly felt that it would be something I would not only enjoy for a lifetime, but also would strive for," he said.

While his residency has just begun, Mercado has already experienced many medical firsts, including his first patient with hypertension and palpitations and his first "thank you" for talking a lupus patient through the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

"Residency so far has been quite entertaining and educational," he said.

"For residents choosing not to stay in a program where they attended medical school, a lot of the first month entails getting used to the lab system, charts, location of patient rooms, how rounds are performed, and what to eat at the cafeteria. These have all been easy transitions for me which has allowed me more time to get to know my patients and read about their medical issues."

Mercado sees his future in medicine joining the school faculty, opening a practice where students and residents can hone skills, or doing a fellowship at another institution and returning to Las Vegas.