Spring 2012
New OB/GYN chair enjoying program changes

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Vani Dandolu, M.D. and Joseph Shea, M.D. talk

Vani Dandolu, M.D., OB/GYN chair, discusses plans for the Families First program with OB/GYN fellow Joseph Shea, M.D. Photo by Edgar Antonio Núñez

Coming from Temple University, Vani Dandolu establishes several patient care-oriented projects.

By Anne Pershing

Vani Dandolu, M.D., the University of Nevada School of Medicine's new chair for obstetrics and gynecology, is excited about changes that are taking place in the department.

"The obstetrics and gynecology department in Las Vegas had been without a permanent chairperson for more than a year, so this is an exciting time for the department with recruitment of new faculty, new leadership and opening of a new practice location and strengthening existing practices," said Dandolu.

"There's a lot of good will with so many wanting to see the department do well. The School of Medicine and University Medical Center are working together on several programs and this has helped the department tremendously."

Changes include the January 2012 opening of the new Women's Center, the new Families First program and the department's collaborative fellowship program with family medicine and its new fellow, Joseph Shea, M.D.

Before being appointed to her new position last September, Dandolu was director of the Division of Urogynecology and its residency program for obstetrics and gynecology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

She completed medical school and her initial obstetrics and gynecology residency training in India, followed by obstetrics and gynecology residency at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, Milwaukee campus and subspecialty training in urogynecology at Temple University Hospital. Dandolu is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

She wants to see her department be recognized for quality and compassionate patient care while increasing the patient base for both faculty and resident practice.

"Toward this goal we are offering our Families First program where employees of University Medical Center, University of Nevada, Reno and UNLV have a priority to be seen in our faculty practice. Our goal is to see them within three days of their phone call for urgent visits and within one week for annual exams," said Dandolu.

To meet the increased demand, the department is hiring more faculty providers in its 8,800-square-foot faculty practice in Las Vegas.

She said staff with the Families First program is also working on creating a webpage where employees can enter their information and expect a call back regarding their appointment time without the hassle of being on the phone for a long time.

The goal to re-open the Women's Center, a resident continuity clinic, came to fruition when the 10,000-square-foot facility opened its doors at 2231 W. Charleston Blvd. in Las Vegas.

"The resident physicians have their own schedules and are able to follow their patients throughout their four years of training. Our 12 resident physicians are excited about the opportunity to experience 'their own practice,'" said Dandolu.

She added that department faculty are working to increase scholarly activity in terms of publications and research funding.

"The goal for this faculty is to devote sufficient time in research and obtain independent funding in the next three years."

As for the obstetrics fellowship, Dandolu said: "It's an exciting opportunity for board certified family practitioners to further enhance their skills in prenatal ultrasound, antepartum fetal testing and operative obstetrics. The School of Medicine's obstetrics fellowship in the Las Vegas family medicine department is a 12-month training program in collaboration with the obstetrics and gynecology department. Dr. Elissa Palmer, family medicine chair, is fellowship director for the program."

The current obstetrics fellow is Joseph Shea, M.D., described by Dandolu as very pleasant and delightful. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame, medical degree at the Medical College of Wisconsin and family medicine residency at the University of Connecticut, where he was chief resident.

"He is board certified in family medicine, an Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics provider and spent two years in practice (including obstetrics) before joining our obstetrics fellowship. He's a wonderful, hard working person, who is a good role model for those who will follow the program," proclaimed Dandolu.

When told that his chair had kind things to say about him, Shea reciprocated with compliments for Dandolu.

"She is very active and works hard to make the program rewarding for all of us. Our chair is extremely supportive as is everyone else. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of the program."

He continued: "We work hard here to tend to as many patients as we can. There are some who have no access to insurance and others who have no pre-natal care. It's difficult to keep up, but you have to. With my training, I'm learning so much and am happy to be able to help these patients as much as I can."

Shea added that during his one-year fellowship, he is looking for opportunities in the area of family medicine and obstetrics. He said in the field of family medicine, physicians experience the full spectrum, from birth to death and are involved with continuous training until they retire.

"I'm happy to be in Nevada and happy with this opportunity."