For the past three weeks, I have had a chance to do one of my favorite things: meet with members of the community to talk about the medical school's progress and to listen to their ideas.
I have recently had the honor to attend these wonderful events:
- UnitedHealth Group panel discussion on the Future of Health Care. The presentation was held for UnitedHealth Group employees in the Las Vegas region.
- Brookings Institution Executive Board panel discussion on the value of Brookings Mountain West to Las Vegas. The Brookings Mountain West commissioned a pivotal economic impact study that underscored the importance of a public medical school in Las Vegas. The report led directly to the Board of Regents decision to expand medical education in the state by developing the UNLV School of Medicine in Las Vegas.
- Business Forums International to provide an update about the medical school and its future impact in Las Vegas.
- Las Vegas Downtown Alliance to discuss the economic impact the medical school will bring to the Las Vegas Medical District and its expected growth.
Las Vegas Heals gala, where six important members of our community received Inspired Excellence in Healthcare Awards. Las Vegas Heals coordinates and promotes many medical efforts in the region, including monthly meetings of the three local medical school deans: Mark Penn, MD, from Roseman College of Medicine; John Dougherty, DO, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Touro University Nevada; and myself.
When I arrived in Las Vegas in May 2014, I spent my first six months meeting people across the community and the state to learn about the health care needs of this area.
I remember fondly early meetings with the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents and staff, UNLV administration and faculty, University of Nevada Reno, School of Medicine faculty members and administration, the Clark County Medical Society board, community physicians, Gov. Brian Sandoval, Nevada legislators, leaders of community agencies, UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees, and leadership from Las Vegas' other medical schools and hospitals, and many others knowledgeable about what the community and state needed to do to improve health care access.
When building the plan for the school, I considered two questions: 1) What were the social and medical needs of the Las Vegas community and state; and 2) how should we teach doctors so they are prepared to practice medicine for the next 50 years.
The community needs became clear: We need more doctors, specialists, and specialty programs. That meant the school would need to recruit more faculty to Las Vegas who have specialty skills to teach students and residents. UNLV School of Medicine is starting with 60 students per class. The number will grow after we open our medical education building. The class size may eventually increase to 180 students, which is the average size for a medical school class.
In the short term, we need more residency positions so many more of Nevada's medical school students can continue their training in the state. We also need to add specialty residency programs, such as dermatology, ophthalmology, neurology, neurosurgery, and pathology and the subspecialties of pediatrics and internal medical like pulmonary, cancer, etc., so students can receive this training in Nevada as well.
When considering how to develop and deliver our curriculum to educate exceptional physicians, we wanted to educate students on four important areas: 1) how to analyze problems and develop solutions; 2) how to find needed information tucked within vast amounts of literature; 3) how to work in teams of health care workers at all levels; and 4) how to be comfortable with technology.
UNLV School of Medicine's innovative curriculum meets all of these requirements, and it will appeal to students seeking to enter medical school today. Thanks for your early and continued commitment to make UNLV School of Medicine a true reality.