June 16th, 2018. It was another sun-drenched Saturday for most Las Vegans, but for the UNLV School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery, it was graduation day.
Final year residents and fellows who’ve toiled through 80-hour work weeks and countless overnight shifts gathered at Red Rock Country Club to celebrate with their families, and with the faculty physicians who trained them.
“This is the 32nd graduation of the department of surgery
(formerly with the University of Nevada Reno)
, but the first graduation from the new UNLV School of Medicine,” said Dr. John Fildes, chair of the department. “It’s a special distinction. You are the alpha class. But at the same time, you join the 140-plus surgical graduates from our residencies and fellowships, many of whom continue to practice in Nevada.”
This year, 50% of the surgical graduates will stay in Nevada to enter practice —
Dr. Arturo Guzman in general surgery, and Dr. Allison McNickle and Dr. Nancy Rivera in acute care surgery. Dr. Lindsey Wenger and Dr. Hasan Khashwji are moving out of state to enter practice, while Dr. Joshua Goldman and Dr. Ethan Benning are moving on to fellowships. Dr. Steven Lorch has accepted a prestigious academic position at the University of South Florida.
Dr. Fildes noted the “exemplary performance” of these young physicians in the aftermath of the Oct. 1, 2017 shooting on the Strip —
58 people died and 851 were injured. “That event
(the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history)
changed all of us... forever... in a good way,” Dr. Fildes said. “It reminds us that after you’ve seen the worst in man, you will see the best in mankind…There is no other department of surgery, in any other city in the world, that can match what you did here in Las Vegas.”
Several of the graduates became emotional reminiscing about their experiences, as family members and about a dozen faculty physicians watched and listened, ready to step forward with a handshake or a hug.