Fall 2014
Faculty Focus

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Carissa Richardson

Staying put

Carissa Richardson, M.D.'10, enjoys the primary care and surgery aspects of obstetrics and gynecology. Photo by Edgar Antonio Núñez.

Home means Nevada for new educators

Story by Anne Pershing

Two obstetrics and gynecology residents who completed their training this spring at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, chose to stay in the Silver State and become faculty members. Why did they make the decision to stick around and become educators? Because, they'll tell you, they love the School of Medicine and Nevada.

"I'm staying on as an attending physician with the School of Medicine in the OB/GYN department in Las Vegas because I believe one of the strengths of training here is the clinicians. Our school produces amazing ones," said Carissa Sparrow Richardson, M.D. '10.

"We also have access to an amazing research lab, outstanding faculty and a diverse population, but I feel our greatest strength is our access to numerous community physicians who are out there taking care of people and educating future physicians while doing it, and I want to be part of that." She pointed out that the teaching in OB/GYN is "a good combination of primary care and surgery, which I love."

Richardson, whose husband, Cory, finishes his general surgery residency this year, said she grew up in Nevada with her parents, who live in Reno, and other family members who live in Las Vegas.

She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2004 and the School of Medicine in 2010 and then moved to Las Vegas for her four-year OB/GYN residency.

"I love Nevada, Reno and Las Vegas," she said. "There are many opportunities for physicians and I also have so many hobbies that I can do here like skiing, hiking, water skiing, wake boarding and spending time with family."

As for her choice of a specialty, she said she prefers women's health care because it is special helping women who help their families.

In regard to teaching, she said that she loves it.

"Being a physician, you learn quickly that education is key to almost every aspect of our day. My job as a chief resident this past year has been such an education. I am so happy that I get to continue as an attending and get to help new physicians learn their skills. I also love Nevada and the people here, and I want to stay and continue to contribute by teaching."

Wilfredo Torres, M.D. '10, expressed similar sentiments about Nevada. Torres, who was born in Estanzuelas, El Salvador, first moved to Los Angeles and then to Las Vegas in 1995, where he graduated from Clark High School. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2005 and the School of Medicine in 2010.

His family still lives in Las Vegas and Torres gives them high praise for their support and presence during his education.

"I also got a tremendous amount of support from my high school teachers and college professors in the area of academics. They were so encouraging and took a lot of time with me. They taught me not to have boundaries and to fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor, and not to limit myself or be afraid. They wanted to help and see me succeed," he said.

At the medical school, he said he enjoyed the fact that his clinical and basic science instructors cared so much.

"Because of it, I feel great about transitioning from the residency into a teaching role. I learned so much from Drs. Dandolu, Quintero and Jackson, and others who took their time in teaching me which led to where I am today. Now I want to pay it forward by teaching what I know and be part of a tremendous staff that trains residents and comes up with new ideas to help patients and the underserved. In a nutshell, ideas that will make our residencies and school much stronger."

He also stressed that he plans to tell the residents: "You're there for your patient. Treat them like family. That's one of the first things I want them to learn."

As for staying in Nevada, Torres, said he is grateful to many.

"I'll always be thankful for the support and encouragement I have received from the people of Nevada. When I was a resident, I spent two years in Reno and the last two years in Las Vegas, and the people in both cities are incredible. I don't know what the future holds, but I love this state and right now I'm so happy to be offered the opportunity to teach."