Get UNLV School of Medicine stories, events, and news everyday!
Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson
 Issue 156 - July 31, 2018
This is an exciting time for the UNLV School of Medicine. While the new students are settling into their routine after arriving on campus two weeks ago, some members of our charter class, who aren’t required back until mid-August, are here helping them get acclimated. So far we’ve been impressed with the Class of 2022. Their passion to learn and fully immerse themselves in our curriculum is admirable and will most certainly serve them well. The new students have been going out into the community in teams of 5 performing neighborhood health assessments. They are talking to everyone they run into, learning the medical needs of our city. This week’s newsletter profiles a second-year student who grew up in one such neighborhood. I think you’ll appreciate Arturo Montes’s story, and his desire to one day return to his old stomping grounds to help those...who shaped his life.
Barbara signature, first name only
Arturo Montes Dean Newsletter
UNLV School of Medicine student Arturo Montes enjoys street art in the Las Vegas Arts District
As Arturo Montes, a 30-year-old second year medical student at the UNLV School of Medicine, walks in the Las Vegas Arts District, he points to the colorful street art impression of the Deadpool comic book character that fills the brick back wall of a downtown building.

“I call what you find on the walls of the buildings down here the art of the people,” he says. These trips downtown, he says, are one way that he relieves some of the stress associated with medical school, where 40 hour plus study weeks are commonplace.

There are times, Montes says, when he talks about medical school that even he still has a difficult time believing that he’s on his way to becoming a physician. “I’m the first in my family to even graduate from high school. I wasn’t that good of a student back then. I didn’t even think of going to college until I was 18.”

That he’s getting the chance to become a physician, he says, is a testament not only to his hard work but to UNLV professors, a Cleveland Clinic neurologist and a UNLV donor all of whom have mentored him.

Montes says Dr. Lloyd Stark, in the UNLV School of Life Sciences, and Dr. Janet Dufek, in the UNLV School of Allied Health Sciences, both gave him confidence in his scholastic abilities during his undergraduate work. “They gave me necessary direction,” he says, adding that they assured him he was capable of the work.

As his interest in becoming a physician grew during undergraduate school, Montes shadowed Dr. Dylan Wint, a neurologist with the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, “He gave me a sense of what being a doctor is all about and even was helpful in how to apply.”

It still seems like a dream to Montes that he received a full scholarship to the UNLV School of Medicine paid for by longtime Las Vegas and community leader Randy Garcia, a 1977 UNLV grad.

“I try to help at-risk youth dream bigger than they probably believe they can,” says Garcia, founder of The Investment Counsel Company of Nevada. “I grew up in the old part of Las Vegas, and it was a little dicey. I think mentoring young people to rise beyond their circumstances is what puts the biggest smile on my face.”

The path Montes took to medical school was far from smooth.

When he was a child, his family of four moved to Las Vegas from East Los Angeles to find jobs. “We were as poor as you can get in America before we moved here. We had little food to eat tortillas with salt and beans... We were hungry a lot.”

His father jumped at the chance to work 80 hours a week in Las Vegas as a custodian and dishwasher. His mother worked full time as a casino porter. 

With his father from Mexico and mother from El Salvador, Montes grew up with his siblings speaking Spanish. “I didn’t start to speak English until I entered kindergarten.”

As his parents studied to become citizens, Montes got through high school, but he admits to concentrating more on football and wrestling than his studies. “My only purpose was to get some kind of job to make a little money... I did learn something important from a football coach, though, something I always remember. The coach told me, Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn’ you don’t lose.”

It was when he nearly lost his mother she suffered a heart attack when Montes was 18 that he found a real purpose for his life.

“Her heart attack was devastating. I went to the hospital and she was flatlining.” He watched as a medical team went to work on her and a cardiologist brought her back to life. “It was amazing.”

As his mother recuperated over the next several weeks, Montes thought about what he had seen, about her amazing recovery. He now had a purpose. “I realized I wanted to help people in much the same way as that doctor helped my mother. I wanted to be a doctor.”

While working as either a busboy or custodian, Montes went to the College of Southern Nevada for almost four years. “I really had to work hard there,” he says. “Nobody really thought I’d be able to be a doctor. I was having to overcome a lifetime of educational deficiencies.” 

Once he says he “learned how to study” at CSN, he transferred to UNLV, where he graduated with dual majors in kinesiology and biology. Still, family obligations forced him to work full time before applying to medical school.

Montes plans to follow the lead of his mentors and reach out to help others.

“I love this city more than I can put into words,” he says. “I want to give back to this community, and I want to help the most vulnerable people... there are so many people in this town who need good healthcare, who can do much more if they understand the opportunity is there for them.”

All previous issues of  Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson , are available on our website.
To become a subscriber to the UNLV School of Medicine newsletter, Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson click here .
IN THE NEWS   Click to see recent stories about UNLV School of Medicine

Two New Neuropsychologists Hired to Help Shorten Waiting List

Las Vegas Review Journal , July 28, 2018

JoJo Harris is Las Vegas' recent gold medal winner at the Special Olympics. JoJo took home the top prize in the Women’s 200m Freestyle. , July 25, 2018
Buddhadeb Dawn, MD
Professor, Chair - Internal Medicine

Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn is now chair for the Department of Internal Medicine. Dawn had been at the University of Kansas School of Medicine/University of Kansas Medical Center, where he was a professor and held posts that include, Director, Division of Cardiovascular Disease.
James M. Alexander Jr., MD
Professor, Chair - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. James Alexander, Jr. is now chair for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Alexander had been at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science (UAMS) as a professor, and Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine/ Medical Director OB Sonography.
In 2016, 29,668 U.S. residents aged 65 and older died as the result of a fall, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention |
Get UNLV School of Medicine stories, events, and news everyday!