Dr. Daniel Kokmeyer and Dr. Colby Young -- they’re both in private practice with Hand Surgery Specialists of Nevada -- don’t have to provide guidance to UNLV School of Medicine resident physicians in the clinical setting, nor do they have to supervise medical student rotations.
No, they don’t have to do it. Neither man is on the medical school’s payroll.
And yet both men tell you they really do have to do it in order to live the well-rounded life of purpose they desire.
So as members of the medical school’s 400 member community faculty -- physicians who supplement the 150 full time faculty -- they volunteer their time and expertise to pass on what they know to future generations of physicians. They may assist with lectures pertaining to hand and wrist anatomy for the medical school one day and show a resident physician how to handle a fractured hand at UMC later that night.
“I especially enjoy teaching and witnessing the progression of the residents as they become more equipped for their futures in orthopaedics,” says Kokmeyer, who is married with two young children. “This is very gratifying. By teaching our residents about hand surgery, orthopaedics and overall patient care, I have the opportunity to actually impact more lives than...working on my own.”
Like his colleague, Young is driven to do his part in ensuring that Southern Nevada has a future of quality healthcare.
“In my opinion, completing the circle of education requires excellence in your own training, excellence in care, and subsequently excellence in teaching the future generation of physicians...It is important to ensure residents and students are taught not only sound surgical techniques and clinical evaluation, but also good medical judgement and respectful interpersonal skills.”
How important are community faculty to medical schools?
Dr. Mark Guadagnoli, who in his position as associate dean for faculty affairs and director of learning performance oversees community faculty, has long said community faculty bring a needed diversity of experience to the UNLV School of Medicine. He also pointed out that medical schools could never afford to have more than 500 full-time medical professionals on staff: “It would bankrupt a school.”
To UNLV School of Medicine Dean Dr. Marc Kahn, the importance of the physicians who comprise the community faculty cannot be overstated. “They are critical to the success of the medical school. We couldn’t do it without them.”
Both Young and Kokmeyer are originally from the midwest. Far different backgrounds were catalysts for their becoming physicians.
When Young was 7-years-old and a passenger in a car in his hometown of Cincinnati, he was in a serious car accident that became the driving force for his career choice.
“I ended up spending six weeks immobilized in traction in the hospital,” Young recalls. “I had fractured my femur and at that time treatment was not surgery, it was immobilization (his leg strung up with a weight) to keep it at length while it healed. After those six weeks, I was then placed in a body cast for another six weeks. The care and compassion of the physicians, therapists and my family during that time drove me to know at that early age that medicine was something I was going to pursue...Even at that early age, there was no doubt that I was going to pursue a career as a doctor.”
As Kokmeyer, one of seven children, was growing up outside Grand Rapids, Michigan, he says it was normal for him to think about a career in medicine.
“When you grow up in a medical family, it’s your norm, it’s what you’re familiar with... I saw my brother, he’s 16 years older than me, when he was in medical school (he’s now an orthopedist) and I was in the first or second grade...I have two other family members in dentistry...I think you are naturally drawn to the interests of those around you.”
Kokmeyer, who earned his medical degree at Ohio State University, did his undergraduate work at a small private school in Michigan, Calvin College, where he studied biochemistry and Spanish. Young, who also received his medical degree from Ohio State, studied political science, along with foundational sciences, as an undergraduate at Northwestern University in Illinois. Kokmeyer completed his residency in orthopedics through Michigan State University while Young did his orthopaedic graduate medical training through the Martin Luther King/Charles R. Drew Medical center in Los Angeles. Each man went on to further specialty training in hand and upper extremity surgery at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center.
The research publications of both men have appeared in peer-reviewed journals that range from the Journal of Hand Surgery to the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.