Spring 2011
Faculty Focus

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Ross P. Berkeley

Ross P. Berkeley, M.D. is assistant professor of emergency medicine at the School of Medicine in Las Vegas. Photo by Edgar Antonio Nunez

Passion, devotion characterize emergency medicine physician

By Marcie Newpher

For the last decade, Ross P. Berkeley, M.D., has been helping train physicians in the emergency department.

Berkeley, associate program director for the emergency medicine residency and assistant professor at the School of Medicine, holds a particular fondness for the emergency medicine residents and their enthusiasm and motivation.

"These individuals are aggressive go-getters with full lives outside of residency. They find the time to learn, to work long hours and somehow come out on the other end as incredible providers," he said. "Our residents still show a level of dedication and passion that somehow gets lost in medicine today."

Fiercely devoted to improving patient care, Berkeley was one of several talented individuals who helped found the medical school's emergency medicine residency program, the first in Nevada, in 2006.

The physicians and residents from the University of Nevada School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine staff University Medical Center's level one trauma center, which accepts patient transfers from southern Utah, western Arizona and eastern California.

So why choose emergency medicine? Berkeley said it just felt right for him.

"It was aligned with the way that I think. I love playing detective and looking at different presentations of acute disease."

He also is of the mindset that emergency medicine is unique in the overall practice of medicine.

"One of my beliefs is that there is a lot of dogma in medicine. People don't really know why they are practicing the way that they are. When you're practicing at a tertiary care center and you have every specialty service available in-house, that is a completely different practice than the majority of emergency care," Berkeley said.

In addition to Berkeley's role as associate residency director, he serves as UMC's co-chair of performance improvement, quality improvement director of the emergency department and its Chest Pain Center director.

He is the medical director for the paramedic program of the College of Southern Nevada and volunteers as a tactical physician for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department SWAT team, earning himself the moniker "SWAT doc."

Back in 2009, Berkeley was named by the American College of Emergency Physicians as one of its annual "Heroes of Emergency Medicine."

He was honored for his work in advancing the specialty of emergency medicine, including establishing a therapeutic hypothermia cerebral resuscitation pathway for post-cardiac arrest patients and developing a multidisciplinary cardiac activation system.

Berkeley's colleagues cannot praise his work enough. Dale Carrison, D.O., chair of the school's emergency medicine department, said Berkeley is a true academic emergency physician.

"He has many strengths, including his attention to detail, meticulous documentation, work ethic, and he is a true team player. It is my belief that in his academic career he will become a well-known leader in academic emergency medicine in the United States."

Berkeley has a vision for the future of emergency medicine.

"I have increasingly recognized the power to affect positive change on a larger scale via education, which is my passion, and have focused on advocating critical thinking in those I teach," he said.

"At the end of the day, every patient deserves the same level of care and respect as one would want provided to a family member, and I sincerely believe our training program provides our residents with the tools and experiences to meet the challenges faced by the field of emergency medicine, both now and in the coming years."