Fall 2015
Alumni Medical Groups to Teach Students

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Dr. Frieda Hulka.

Alumnae Give Back: Frieda Hulka, M.D.'92, is a surgeon with Western Surgical Associates, who has long been involved in teaching students. Photo by Anne McMillin.

New Partnerships Establish Third-Year Teaching in Reno

Story by Anne McMillin, APR

As the School of Medicine works toward its goal of establishing a four-year campus in Reno, building relationships with medical practices and community faculty physicians is a key component in achieving that goal. Reaching out to alumni is a strategy being used to establish third- and fourth-year learning opportunities in northern Nevada.

Timothy Baker, M.D. '04, associate dean for medical education, said engaging and embracing the northern Nevada medical community to partner with the school in order to educate students will complete the school's transition to a four-year campus in Reno. It also will serve to give students the option to remain in northern Nevada for their entire four-year undergraduate medical education experience.

The School of Medicine has partnered with Reno's Western Surgical Associates and OB/GYN Associates to provide that critical clerkship learning opportunity for third-year students. Happily, many School of Medicine alumni comprise those private practices, including Frieda Hulka, M.D. '92, of Western Surgical Associates and Neda Etezadi-Amoli, M.D., '02 with OB/GYN Associates.

How were you approached to embark on this new journey?

Etezadi-Amoli: Our office was approached in a visit by Dr. Tim Baker. Our practice is unique in that in addition to being the largest group of this specialty in Reno, the majority of our physicians are graduates of the School of Medicine.

Hulka: We, too, were approached by Dr. Baker and Dean Tom Schwenk. As the largest surgical practice in Nevada, we have all the subspecialties in surgery and 16 surgeons in our group. Of those 16, 13 have completed one or more fellowship training programs. And five are alumni of the School of Medicine.

What is the appeal to you in teaching students?

Etezadi-Amoli: My residency in Texas allowed me multiple opportunities to participate in medical student teaching. Once I graduated, I was recruited to stay on as faculty and served as assistant professor in the obstetrics/gynecology department for two years. It was during this time that I truly realized how much I enjoyed teaching. It is a privilege to teach younger generations and rewarding to see the development of students and residents over the time I spent with them.

Hulka: The appeal for me is threefold: it keeps me on my game in terms of staying abreast of the literature and evidenced-based learning. It is also exciting when the students have the light bulb go on when they understand something you are teaching, and it is an ego boost to be able to teach students. It is a chance for payback. I was trained well as the last class of med students to be trained in surgery entirely in Reno, before the department was established in Las Vegas. We spent half our time at the VA and half our time with private practicing surgeons. It was a unique experience for us as students to have that one-on-one time with surgeons.

What are you most looking forward to in this endeavor?

Etezadi-Amoli: Until this development with the medical school, there has not been much opportunity for obstetrics/gynecology teaching in our community, and I look forward to restarting this, as it is truly a passion of mine.

Hulka: I'm looking forward to having students more consistently-it is kind of hit-and-miss now-and to teach more regularly.

How will this new opportunity with the medical school encourage others to be involved?

Etezadi-Amoli: Hopefully, as more community physicians start interacting with the medical school, other physicians, including the large number of alums in Reno, will have the desire to participate.

Hulka: I'm hoping it will compel my colleagues in the health care profession to become involved, even those that don't have the alumni connection to the medical school.

How is the growth to a four-year campus in Reno a benefit to the community's health?

Etezadi-Amoli: It will encourage more graduates to stay local, keep resources in northern Nevada and allow for more community awareness of what the medical school in Reno does as more students will be seen in the health care setting. This can strengthen ties between the school and community. As the medical school expands, it can encourage future growth of graduate medical education and bring additional residency programs and thus stronger health care programs to Reno.

Hulka: For a long time, Reno has suffered from the stigma of not having as good medical care as, say, California. By doing more teaching, I'm hoping we can show that students can get their education here, and practice in a busy, gratifying and thriving environment here in Reno.

What is one of your favorite memories as a medical student?

Etezadi-Amoli: As far as favorite medical school memories, I enjoyed breakfast with the dean during orientation week and the White Coat Ceremony. Pathology lectures with Dr. Ken Maehara were always memorable as he was an outstanding and memorable professor.

Hulka: Our class had a lot of personal tragedies early on in our first year, yet those galvanized us as a class and we stuck together, building camaraderie. I'm still friends with some of my classmates.