Spring/Summer 2018
Department of Surgery

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

DRS Lori Rawson and James Harris

Dr. Lori Rawson and Dr. James Harris, UNR Med department of surgery co-chairs. Photo by Brin Reynolds.

New department of surgery expands training for UNR Med students

Story by Tessa Bowen

From the Latin word chirurgiae, meaning "hand work," surgery is on the expanding frontier at UNR Med. In its aim to increase the number of physicians in Nevada by educating more medical students, residents and fellows, it is befitting that surgery, a life-saving, life-giving medical science, be a major provision of the region's medical school.

Two recognized local surgeons have been named UNR Med department of surgery co-chairs: Dr. James Harris, senior member of Western Surgical Group, the largest multispecialty surgical group in northern Nevada; and Dr. Lori Rawson, chief of surgery at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System.

Dr. Harris, UNR Med's founding surgical clerkship director, has previous experience as a surgical residency program director and was chief of the division of surgery at Greenville Hospital Systems in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a fellowship-trained surgical oncologist and serves as Renown Institute for Cancer's chair of the Cancer Committee and medical director of Cancer Quality Services and Accreditation.

In addition to her role as chief of surgery, Dr. Rawson is acting designated education officer and a practicing urologist at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System. She is a graduate of the VA's executive leadership programs and has been actively involved in local and national VA collaborations to improve delivery of health care to veterans. She completed her medical degree and urology residency at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California.

Clerkship training for third- and fourth-year medical students is hands-on and includes patient care in the hospital and in clinics, pre-operative and post-operative care, assisting in the operating room and management of patients in acute care settings.

UNR Med's department of surgery will ensure medical students receive enhanced hospital- and office-based education at Renown Health, the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System and in the offices of surgeons throughout Reno. Building on the patient care and on-site surgical training received by third-year medical students, surgical students will be offered the choice of general surgery or surgical specialties such as orthopaedic surgery, otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), plastic surgery, neurosurgery and urology.

"Under the leadership of Drs. Harris and Rawson, we are delivering one of the most comprehensive core medical education experiences to our third-year students through the new department of surgery and in-hospital training," said University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Dean Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. "The goal of this initiative is to provide a sound basic education in surgical principles to all UNR Med students, as well as encourage those students who choose careers in surgery to be the very best surgeons who will eventually practice in our state."

Contributing to the development of UNR Med's surgery clerkship is Dr. Karin Klove, selectives director. Klove is a general surgeon who completed her medical degree, internship and residency at the University of Southern California. She assisted Dr. Harris in piloting the clerkship from three students to a program that supports all 70 third-year medical students.

Two clerkship directors, Dr. Mitzi Miller at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System and Dr. Joe Uccelli, M.D. '08 at Renown Health, will lead the expansion of the academic program at these and other clinical sites and work closely with the surgical faculty in northern Nevada to ensure students receive a comprehensive clinical experience.