Spring 2012
Class Act

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Members of the Class of 2015

Members of the Class of 2015 affirm their commitment to the medical professional at the 2011 White Coat Ceremony. Photo by John Ries

Class of 2015 makes its debut

By Matt Lush

The 16th Annual University of Nevada School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony last August marked the beginning of a rewarding journey for the incoming Class of 2015.

It also served to remind students that they are carrying on the distinguished practice of doctoring.

Mike Ulrich, a first-year medical student and one of 62 members in the class, is thankful to be part of this cohort.

"My first impression was just-I was overwhelmed, and sort of in awe of everything," he said.

Ulrich toured 13 medical schools, and the University of Nevada School of Medicine was his final choice.

"It does not get any better than this. The anatomy lab is just state-of-the-art-they really spoil us here," he said.

The Class of 2015 is the first class to begin their medical education in the new William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building, a 59,000-square foot facility that opened last fall. The new facility offers classes a high-tech learning environment where instructors can teach in innovative ways.

"We should remember how fortunate we are to be able to learn in such fantastic facilities," Ulrich said.

Alex Gill, another first-year student in the class, agrees: "The new Pennington Building is amazing!"

Busy schedules are the routine of any medical student, and Ulrich balances classes, studying and spending time with his wife from 7 a.m. to midnight each day of the week.

"They're long days, but they're manageable," he said.

Of the many tools available to medical students to help them navigate through four years of undergraduate medical education, Ulrich deeply admires the encouragement he and his classmates receive from School of Medicine faculty.

"The individual support of my professors is phenomenal. Students are an investment to the professors here," he said.

Gill concurs: "Our professors have a genuine, vested interest in our success. We're in this thing together."

Since 1969, the medical school has delivered an education preparing students for the medical profession. In addition to formal classroom and lab sessions, the more human side of medicine is taught and practiced throughout, but especially at the Student Outreach Clinic.

"Giving my time to a greater cause helps center me. The Student Outreach Clinic provides free medical care to those who cannot otherwise afford it. I'm proud to be part of such a caring, sensitive group of people," Gill said.

Ulrich agrees: "I love the Student Outreach Clinic. It does a great service to the community."

Diversity across backgrounds is common among students at the medical school, and the Class of 2015 does not sway from that rule: Ulrich worked in construction before making the transition to medical school, and other members of the class previously held or continue to hold occupations as a cellist, a pilot, a wildlife firefighter and a cartographer.

Their ages range from 18 to 36 years, with the average age being 24. Males slightly outnumber females in the class. About 35 percent of the students studied biology as undergraduates, and a little more than 14 percent studied biochemistry.