Issue 48 - June 7, 2016
Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson

Shelley Berkley, CEO and Senior Provost, Touro University, Congressman Joe Heck, and Dr. Ray Alden, Provost, Touro University
Friends and Colleagues,    
 
Last week I participated in a roundtable discussion organized by U.S. Rep. Dr. Joe Heck at Touro University. Faculty and administrators from all three Southern Nevada medical schools, the College of Southern Nevada, and Nevada State College gathered to discuss how we could close the health care access gap in Nevada. Congressman Heck discussed medical education legislation currently in Congress that would help Nevada and other states meet critical health care shortages and needs. 
 
A particular area of discussion was our community's need for more Hispanic physicians. Hispanics now make up 29 percent of Clark County, African Americans 12 percent, Asians 12 percent, and Caucasians 41 percent -- making the county a minority-majority population area. Hispanics are the fasting growing population. By 2020, it is estimated Hispanics could make up 35 percent of the population in Clark County.
 
Last year, U.S. medical schools enrolled 88,750 students. Hispanic students made up 5 percent (4,401), while African Americans made up 6 percent (5,505), far below their representation in the national population.
 
Several Hispanic students at the roundtable shared their personal experiences and barriers to attending college, medical school and/or physical therapy school. Most of the students who spoke were first-generation college students who didn't have the funds needed for their education and who had to work through college. Many relied on mentors who encouraged them to consider medicine and other health care professions.
 
Our plan to recruit and retain a diverse class of students
A part of our mission is to recruit a diverse student body that reflects the demographics of this region and who will stay in Nevada to practice medicine. We're going to accomplish this by taking these steps:
  • Student outreach: We plan to visit Nevada's universities, regional college campuses, and high schools to share our exciting educational programs with students. We want to let students know they can pursue their dream of becoming a doctor or other health care professional right here in Las Vegas.
  • Affordable education: All 60 students in our charter class, and 25 each in the next three consecutive classes, will have scholarships to help cover their tuition.  
  • Cultural competence education: Students will learn the importance of cultural competency from the onset. They will learn how to understand cultures different from their own, their core beliefs, and how they perceive modern medicine. We will begin the discussion of cultural beliefs as our students earn their emergency medical technician (EMT) certification during their first six weeks of medical school.
  • Medical Spanish and language interpretation services: During the first year, students will learn medical Spanish and how to use language interpretation services when caring for patients. Because there are many different cultures represented in Las Vegas, it is impossible for students to learn all the languages of the patients they will encounter. It's important for students to learn the services available to help them understand their patients and families.
  • Doctoring Courses: Students will learn how to perform a patient examination in an outpatient setting. We also will teach basic communication and interpersonal skills so students learn effective communication when cultural barriers may exist, understand how to recognize verbal and non-verbal cues, and identify the need for interpretive services. 
  • Nevada Community Service: Students will spend two hours per week, and later a full month, in community-based and social service agencies to learn how communities work together to address the public health, social, and health care needs of our diverse populations. There will be special focus on caring for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, victims of violence and people with disabilities. 
I can't wait to recruit and welcome our charter class. It's going to be an amazing milestone for all of us.
 
Best wishes,
 
Barbara
Community Advisory Board Spotlight
 
Meet   F. Gard Jameson , PhD, CPA, a local community activist, philanthropist, and professor of Asian philosophy at UNLV. His professional career started with the CPA firm of Piercy, Bowler, Taylor and Kern, CPAs in 1985. In 1988, he co-founded the Nevada Community Foundation; in 1997, he co-founded the Children's Advocacy Alliance; in 2003, he co-founded the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada; and in  2008, he co-founded Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada with his wife, Dr. Florence Jameson, who serves on Community Advisory Board. 

Gard and Florence Jameson also are one of the medical school's founding scholarship donors, supporting "The Jameson Family Scholarship" for our charter class.
 
Gard is an advocate for Community Engagement and is helping to shape the UNLV's Office of Community Engagement. "Through the eyes of children and those without access to medical care, I am passionate about bringing quality health care to our community. The UNLV School of Medicine is going to move us powerfully in that direction," says Gard.
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