Spring 2017
Dean’s Perspective

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Thank You, Las Vegas

By Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D.

Thomas Schwenk, M.D.This issue of Synapse marks the end of a more than 20-year relationship between the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and the faculty and staff members of its Las Vegas campus. The official transition of our Las Vegas campus to form the clinical platform for the UNLV School of Medicine occurs on July 1, 2017. After July 1, these outstanding educators will have ongoing faculty appointments with UNR Med, adjunct to their primary appointments with UNLV, providing UNR Med students continued benefit from their teaching. But the fundamental construct of UNR Med as the only public medical school with two widely-separated campuses will soon end.

While this change obviously has implications for creating a “new” school of medicine in Reno with a long tradition of excellence, I want to focus here on our great appreciation for our colleagues in Las Vegas, for all that they have done to make UNR Med successful, for the extraordinary teaching received by our students that has contributed so much to their success, and for the sense of loss we are experiencing as the transition date approaches.

The growth and success of UNR Med over the last two decades parallels the growth and success of our Las Vegas campus. Because of the transformation of public medical education supported by the Governor and the legislature, UNLV is the fortunate recipient of more than 100 dedicated faculty and nearly 300 residents and fellows, and the funding to support clinical and educational activities. This clinical and graduate medical education platform has provided a majority of the clinical teaching for our third- and fourth-year students and that teaching has been outstanding.

We receive feedback regularly about how well-prepared our students are as they transition to residency training. We hear from our graduates about how well-trained they feel compared to resident colleagues from more prestigious medical schools. The clinical teaching based at University Medical Center provides exposure for our students to patients and clinical pathology that are little seen in many teaching hospitals. I have been impressed from my first days here with how dedicated our faculty and staff members are to both our students and to caring for patients who often suffer from socioeconomic deprivation.

Our Las Vegas colleagues have set a high standard for clinical education that we are already matching in Reno and northern Nevada, according to the feedback and performance of the students on those rotations. We appreciate the standard that was set and believe it bodes well for the quality of medical education provided by both public medical schools.

You will read in this issue of Synapse about a wide range of teaching programs in Las Vegas that will continue into the future. A cohort of 20 third-year medical students will continue to receive their required clerkship teaching in Las Vegas during 2017-18. Fourth-year students will now and in the future continue to avail themselves of elective opportunities at UMC. We are developing a new, year-long integrated third-year clerkship at MountainView Hospital that will launch in 2018. We are building or expanding residency training in Reno in primary care internal medicine, psychiatry, geriatrics, and rural family medicine. Our plans for these and other major initiatives for UNR Med in the next three years are detailed in the new UNR Med Strategic Plan, outlined on pages 12-15.

All of these exciting new educational programs derive in one way or another from our strong base of educational excellence built in Las Vegas. I want to personally thank every single faculty and staff member for their contributions to this excellence, and wish them well in the next exciting phase of building public medical education in Nevada.

Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D.
Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Dean, University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine