Over the years most Southern Nevadans came to know Dr. John Fildes as the man who led the UMC Trauma Center. He was the physician who coordinated the Oct.1, 2017 medical response to the mass shooting on the Strip that killed 58 and injured more than 800. At the UNLV School of Medicine, we’ve been fortunate. We first got to know him as our inaugural chair of the department of surgery and later, as Dean. Here’s a sampling of how his unique brand of leadership was prized by students, faculty and staff:
I will never forget when Dean Fildes took time out of his undoubtedly busy schedule to meet with me and a group of third year medical students during our surgery rotation. He wanted to hear what was going well, what could be better and how we could do that. As a medical student, typically the lowest ranking person on the team, it meant a lot to have our opinion valued and feel heard -- that’s the type of person Dr. Fildes is.
Lauren Hollifield, MS
MD Candidate, Class of 2021
In addition to his administrative, research and clinical accomplishments, Dean Fildes exhibited a commitment to teaching. And despite his administrative duties, he worked trauma shifts, published, and supervised residents and fellows. Confirming a commitment to diversity, Dr. Fildes worked with and recruited women and men of diverse backgrounds. When it comes to setting priorities, he did not have a built-in loyalty to one perspective or one group, but rather he thought about what was going to be in the best interest of the overall institution and the UNLV School of Medicine’s mission. He is not just a list of amazing national and international accomplishments and awards, but an individual who genuinely cares about our school --- the students, faculty and staff.
Elissa J. Palmer MD FAAFP
Professor and Chair
Department of Family & Community Medicine
Dr. Fildes stepped in as acting dean during a difficult transitional time for the school. He brought a lot of calm, steadied the ship well. Dr. Fildes is a very respected clinician and leader, and I hope he has a continued role in bringing stability and growth within the school -- the developing clinical side of the school will benefit tremendously from his ongoing engagement.
Dr. Johan Bester
Director of Bioethics
Assistant Professor, Medical Education
During his tenure as Dean, he supported and inspired medical students, provided leadership and guidance on innovative curricular opportunities, and ensured that we continued on the path to full accreditation. Dr. Fildes’ experience and leadership in graduate medical education supported the growth and development of our important residency and fellowship programs that provide training opportunities for our upcoming graduating medical students and provide new physicians to address Nevada’s physician shortage. He has strengthened the infrastructure of our school and practice plan and has supported faculty in their academic and practice plan missions. He has devoted nearly three decades of his career to improving the health of Nevadans, and his tenure as Dean demonstrated his continuing commitment. We welcome him back as Chair of the Department of Surgery as we welcome our new Dean, Dr. Marc Kahn.
Dr. Deborah Kuhls
Professor of Surgery
Chief, Section of Critical Care, Division of Acute Care Surgery
Program Director, Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Program
I have been lucky in my career and throughout my life to work with, get to know, and learn from a number of high quality individuals. From the first time I met Dr. Fildes as the Chair of Surgery, I was impressed with the strength of character he has shown. He is, by all accounts, a world class surgeon. I would add that in my opinion, he is a world class leader, and individual. I am struck by how he treats everyone with calm dignity and respect. When you need his attention, you get his undivided attention. He holds you to a high standard, and holds you accountable, and does so in a manner that makes you want to do your best.
Assistant Dean of Finance, UNLV School of Medicine
When Dr. Fildes became Dean, he made time to get to know the students. I remember him setting up multiple events to meet with students -- to get to know us and our concerns about our school. He always has a smile on his face and takes time to greet students by name in the hallways of the hospital or school. As a new school with a new clinical curriculum, there were certainly bumps along the way as we started clinical rotations and Dean Fildes did an excellent job helping our class with the transition. We will certainly miss him as Dean but we look forward to continuing to work with him at UMC.
MD Candidate. Class of 2021
Prior to his becoming Dean, I had worked with Dr. Fildes as the Surgery Chair and in his many leadership roles in the faculty practice plan. Almost immediately, we started to meet regularly, and I soon learned that when he does something, he does it efficiently, effectively and with the highest quality. He has been no different in his role as Dean. The other component that is important to understand about John Fildes, is his kindness towards others. He always takes the time to compliment staff and those that report to him, and even in a tough situation, takes the time for a learning moment. He loves the medical school and the entire team that has worked hard to make this school important in the community. I know he will continue to work hard for the school as he returns to his role as Chair of Surgery.
Joanne Strobbe, M.Ed.
Senior Associate Dean For Administration & Finance
Chief Financial Officer
Dr. Fildes truly values the success of the medical school, faculty practice plan, and building a lasting, quality healthcare community in southern Nevada. His strategic ability to navigate the business challenges of the medical school has not only demonstrated his strong leadership but his compassion toward people. I am proud to have worked with Dr. Fildes in his role as our Dean and look forward to working with him as Chairman of the Department of Surgery.
Executive Director of Space & Facilities Management
I cannot say enough positive regarding Dean Fildes. His passion for the success of the UNLV School of Medicine is inspiring. He is a compassionate, personable professional who embodies the values of the school at the highest level. I hope to continue working with Dr. Fildes as Chair of Surgery for many years to come.
Executive Director of Information Technology
Interim Director of Marketing & Communications
To me, he's one of those great role models or mentors that you want to strive to be. He saves lives as a trauma surgeon, yet he is humble. He is kind and a generous man with his time and knowledge. I will greatly miss his calm presence. I hope that I will get to work with him in other capacities in the future.
Elaine Aromin, MBA
Manager of Contracts
Dr. Fildes provided strong, steady leadership for our entire program when we needed it most -- when our Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson, who seemed irreplaceable, stepped down. For the amazing work he has performed, and will continue to perform, in the operating room at UMC, he will surely always be lauded and leave a lasting legacy. But for me and the rest of my classmates, we will remember his commitment to our young medical school at a critical time -- a commitment that will help ensure the school’s continued success. I am extremely proud and grateful to have such a professional and gracious individual as a role model.
MD Candidate. Class of 2022