Issue 84 - March 7, 2017
Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson
Friends and colleagues,
Last week was another pivotal week for medical school milestones, which ranged from having in-depth discussions on the future development of the medical education building, to meeting with members of the Nevada Legislature, to accepting students for our charter class, to securing the future of our clinical practice (UNLV Medicine). It was truly a landmark week.  
Future medical education building
Future medical education building
A team working on the school's medical education building traveled to Portland Oregon Monday to see a spectacular building designed by CO Architects - the specialty firm designing our building. The team consisted of Maureen Schafer, architects from Tate Snyder Kimsey, UNLV planning and facilities, and myself. We explored the general layout of the building, the size and variety of learning spaces, and its functional workflow. Most importantly, we wanted to visit with the people who work there to see what they liked about the space, and what they would redo. The 650,000 square foot structure was built to house several health science units from the Oregon Health and Science University and Portland State University. We found it provided an excellent environment for education, collaboration and studying. The only complaint was noise levels in certain locations.

Nevada legislature
From Portland we traveled directly to Reno, to testify before the Nevada Legislature Ways and Means Committee, a joint committee of the Senate and Assembly in Carson City. It was the first opportunity for the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) to present its two-year budget. Both public medical schools were on hand to provide comment.
University of Nevada Reno, School of Medicine (UNR-SOM) Dean Thomas Schwenk discussed their progress to ensure medical students could receive all four years of medical education in Reno. In the past, UNR-SOM sent their third and fourth year students to Las Vegas for clinical training. Now the clinical training will be taught mostly in Reno. UNR-SOM is working to build out rotations for their third year students in the core specialties that include, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, surgery and obstetrics and gynecology.
I went before the committee members next and outlined our progress with regards to the school's admissions process and preparations for our charter class, how we are working to improve access for Medicaid patients, and steps we are taking to launch our clinical practice.
  • Admissions progress: Fifty-six students, who are all outstanding students, have now received letters of acceptance from UNLV School of Medicine. Our charter class is extremely diverse with students who are motivated to learn and have a deep desire to stay in the community. Each student has an interesting story about his or her educational and career plans. Some of these stories will be shared with you this coming summer. Equally as exciting, our new academic space to teach our first and second year curriculum is ready for our medical students' arrival on July 17, 2017.
  • UNLV Medicine Ackerman Autism Center and Improving Medicaid Access. Since opening the center last July we have made new diagnoses or reconfirmed diagnoses for more than 400 children, many of whom were on the Medicaid waitlist for months. In addition, more than 600 children and young adults are participating in a variety of treatment programs at the center. Many of these families are working with care managers and community health workers who are helping them to reduce barriers that interfere with their children's care, such as transportation, insurance, etc. These services will be available in all future UNLV Medicine clinics. 
  • UNLV Medicine. In order for the medical school to launch its clinical enterprise, we first needed approval of the faculty practice plan bylaws, its operating agreement and a line of credit to operate for the first three to four months by the NSHE Board of Regents.
    • The Board of Regents met last Friday to take up these items. The UNLV Medicine bylaws specify the structure of the corporation that will hold the money received in payment for the teaching physicians' services. The bylaws also delineate the board of directors. The operating agreement specifies how and why money will be transferred from the practice to pay for the majority of the physicians' salaries as well as the other expenses that are incurred by the clinical activity of the faculty. The Board of Regents took up and approved both items.
    • The Board of Regents also approved the school's request for a bank line of credit for up to $19 million to capitalize the start-up of UNLV Medicine. The start-up money is needed because when UNLV Medicine physicians start billing for patient services on July 1, 2017, it may take from 30 to 120 days until insurance companies pay their bills. This gap creates a cash shortage since the medical school will still have to pay salaries of all 120 physicians, 300 clinical staff members, leases, supplies and start-up equipment during this time period.
    • The expenses for UNLV Medicine are estimated at nearly $1 million per week. The current UNR-SOM practice plan in Las Vegas generates approximately $71 million of revenue per year. We have prepared a business plan, which shows we will generate that amount initially and then grow the practice by about 5 percent per year. The loan will be paid back within the first five years. A request for proposal (RFP) has been issued for banks to extend us this line of credit and serve our other banking needs. We hope to have a bank selected in the next few weeks. 
As you can tell, it was a very busy but successful week for us all.
Special thanks to Clark County Commissioner Chairman Steve Sisolak; City of Las Vegas Major Carolyn Goodman; Clark County Commissioner and Chairman of the UMC Southern Nevada Board of Trustee Lawrence Weekly; UMC CEO Mason VanHouweling; and newly accepted UNLV School of Medicine students Diana Peña and Vladislav Zhitney, who shared their support for the medical school at the Regents meeting. 

Best wishes,
Michael Easter, a former editor at Men's Health, launches KUNV's new radio program

In this inaugural episode of Nevada Health, host Michael Easter sits down with UNLV School of Medicine Founding Dean, Barbara Atkinson, to discuss the state of medicine in Southern Nevada and the impact a cutting edge medical curriculum may have on the community. Listen to the exciting new program here.

Follow Our Progress