Fall 2015
Faculty Honored for Their Teaching Contributions

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Dr. Paul Dieringer and Dr. Thomas Schwenk.

Honoring Faculty: Paul Dieringer, M.D., left, and Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., dean of the medical school, at last spring's dean's dinner. Photo by Anne McMillin, APR.

Three Recognized at Awards Ceremony

Story by Jordan Miszlay

Three School of Medicine faculty received awards at the end of the 2014-15 academic year recognizing their hard work, perseverance and dedication to the medical school and its students.

Paul E. Dieringer, M.D., Gregory J. Highison, Ph.D., and Cynthia C. Mastick, Ph.D., were honored with teaching awards at the 2015 Dean's Dinner, held May 14 at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno.

Gregory J. Highison received the Dean's Distinguished Service Award for his more than 30 years of teaching service.

Highison has served on every medical education steering committee since 1981, was a course director, Block Two director and served 13 years on the time-intensive and crucial admissions committee.

In the course of his time at the School of Medicine, he actively engaged more than 1,500 medical students in the challenging studies of histology, embryology, anatomy and neuroanatomy. He adapted sessions to be interactive, include team learning and encourage skills of independent learning and discovery in students.

In her nomination packet, Jennifer M. Hagen, M.D.'93, stated: "Dr. Highison's service to the school has been centered on our mission of excellence in medical student education, he is an exemplary leader in medical education."

In his remarks at the dinner, Dean Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. also spoke highly of Highison saying: "What has not changed one bit over the years is Dr. Highison's enthusiasm for teaching medical students, his interest in each students' success and his passion for histology."

"To receive the Distinguished Service Award from the dean is a great honor. It is gratifying to know that my dedication and commitment to the University of Nevada School of Medicine over the last 34 years are recognized and appreciated," Highison said.

Cynthia C. Mastick, Ph.D., earned the E.W. Richardson Excellence in Teaching Award for her incredible effort in helping reorganize the School of Medicine's curriculum from a course-based curriculum to a systems-based approach and for serving as Block One director, where she received the highest student evaluations in the last 14 years.

"She has the rare ability to take a difficult subject and teach it using a logical, coherent framework. Dr. Mastick also makes herself available to students before and after class and shows patience regardless of the inquiry. It is apparent by both her words and actions that she wishes all students to thrive both personally and academically," Schwenk said of Mastick.

In addition to her medical school teaching, Mastick contributes to the team-taught graduate cell biology course and has mentored doctorate thesis work of five biochemistry students, two of whom went on to post-doctoral work.

Mastick is an active member of the thesis committees for many graduate students in the School of Medicine and directs the research of several undergraduate senior thesis students each year.

"I am very grateful for this recognition of my teaching efforts," Mastick said. "It is very satisfying to know that my efforts are appreciated by the school as well. The unexpected part for me, however, was how delighted I was to be selected. I now fully appreciate the positive impact these awards have, and I am very grateful to our benefactors that make these awards possible."

Paul E. Dieringer, M.D., earned the Thomas J. Scully Praeceptor Carissimus Award for his service as a School of Medicine preceptor over the last 30 years. Dieringer has participated as a preceptor in the Introduction to Patient Care, Practice of Medicine and Summer Preceptorships courses.

Praeceptor Carissimus translates from Latin and means "beloved teacher." This award recognizes someone who has precepted and mentored students and residents, and served as a role model for teaching, clinical practice and service.

"Dr. Dieringer was a phenomenal mentor and preceptor; he consistently found opportunities for learning points and made sure I had a full understanding of the concepts," said a student in evaluating him.

"I was speechless when I received notification of receiving this award. It was wonderful, unexpected, rewarding and special to be recognized by my students," said Dieringer.

The dean's dinner is held annually as a way for graduating classes to celebrate faculty and departments in a personal and private setting and allows for more opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a physician.