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Breaking News:

NSHE Board of Regents -- approves plan to build medical education building. The 140-thousand square foot building will cost approximately $125M and be paid for with bonds. Construction on the 9-acre site at Pinto and Shadow Lane to begin in the first half of 2021, completion and occupancy in the second half of 2022 or soon after.

Director of Space Management Kim Case -- receives the   President’s Unsung Hero Award from the Association of Physical Plant Administrators for her work providing leadership in educational facilities.
Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson
 Issue 204 - July 23, 2019
Friends & Colleagues,

It’s wonderful when you come across people who show that you’re never too old to dream a new dream and to set new goals. Today, we focus on one of our new students, Robert Sottile, who’s beginning medical school at the age of 45 after a career in the performing arts and retail. Anyone familiar with the Southern Nevada medical scene over the years knows that there’s a good precedent for what Robert is undertaking. Our former chair of the department of emergency medicine, Dr. Dale Carrison, who retired last year, also didn’t begin medical school until his mid-40s. A former FBI agent who went on to become UMC’s head of emergency and chief of staff, Dr. Carrison helped establish the first phase of our school curriculum, which begins with a six week course leading to students becoming certified emergency medical technicians. Like Dr. Carrison, Robert says his life will be more fulfilled if he can help people overcome their medical challenges. 
Barbara signature, first name only
Beautiful Music: Former Professional Pianist Among Class of 2023
New medical student Robert Sottile, a former professional pianist, has played in some of the world's top concert halls. He's now pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor.
The hands of 45-year-old Robert Sottile skim over the piano keys with the elegance of a performer accustomed to the stage. 

It is just after noon on a recent day as Sottile -- he’s played for choirs led by Grammy Award-winning conductor Donald Nally at performance halls both in the U.S. and Europe -- takes a break from his new student orientation at the UNLV School of Medicine to relax at the keyboard. 

“The Way It Is,” a song by the American musical group Bruce Hornsby and the Range, fills the school of medicine’s lobby on Shadow Lane. No longer does Sottile play the challenging classical repertoire of Chopin, Beethoven, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Beethoven -- pieces he would frequently practice as much as eight hours a day. 

After finishing one of the song’s piano solos, Sottile explains that repetitive stress injuries to his hands, the same kind of tendon injuries which brought misery to pianists as accomplished as Leon Fleisher, Rachmaninoff and Glen Gould, derailed his performance career.   

“I can play OK today as long as I don’t play too much,” says Sottile, who expects in the not too distant future to use his hands to suture. “I play today to relax.”

Sottile’s decision to enter medical school did not come soon after he experienced the aching, tenderness, tingling and soreness that made the mere lifting of a book painful. In fact, he would spend the better part of two decades in either computer or home improvement store management, the last 10 years at a Lowe’s outlet in Henderson.

“I was making good money and Lowe’s was prepared to promote me again to a very good paying district manager position,” says Sottile, who had been transferred by Lowe’s from Pennsylvania to Nevada. “I got the call from them for the new position in 2014 -- a call I had long been waiting for -- when I realized I didn’t want to do it. I realized it didn’t match who I am.” 

He was 40-years-old then, a piano performance graduate of Westchester University of Pennsylvania who had transformed himself into a well-paid businessman. 
"It had come to me that I was most happy when I was helping my associates on my team work through problems. I saw medicine as a way to do that. I knew at the age of 40 that sounded crazy, but I had to try it.” - Robert Sottile
But he wasn’t happy. He couldn’t get what Henry David Thoreau had written out of his head -- “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” There was no way he wanted to live out his life wondering what might have been.

It was while he was watching House M.D., the TV series about an unconventional, misanthropic medical genius who leads a team of diagnosticians, when he realized what he wanted to do. 

“It had come to me that I was most happy when I was helping my associates on my team work through problems,” he says. “I didn’t want to be like House, didn’t want his personality, but I wanted to work as part of a team to help others. I saw medicine as a way to do that. I knew that at the age of 40 that sounded crazy, but I had to try it.”  

He turned down the district manager position with Lowe’s but continued to work at the Henderson store as he took science classes at the College of Southern Nevada. 

“I hadn’t taken a science class since 1992," says Sottile, who married a social worker two years ago who’s totally behind his decision to become a physician. “Lowe’s was great. They allowed me to follow my dream.” 

He received his associate’s degree at CSN and then took more science classes at UNLV before taking the MCAT, the medical school admissions test. To his relief, he did very well.

“I have to admit I’ve had anxiety about all this, about how I would survive financially,” says Sottile, a partial scholarship student who put his grand piano up for sale to help him with funds. “But I’m happy now. I think I’ll go into internal medicine and everything will work out fine.”  
Click photo to hear Robert play
 Click to see recent stories about UNLV School of Medicine

Las Vegas Sun

Third Plan for UNLV Medical Education Building is Approved


Las Vegas Review Journal

Regents OK Sale of Bonds to Finance Medical Education Building


The average age of applicants applying to medical school is 24, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. 

All previous issues of  Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson , are available on our website.
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