Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson
Friends and Colleagues,
The fiscal year at UNLV came to a close June 30, marking the end of our second year as a School of Medicine. I thought it fitting to look at our achievements and what lies ahead.
Last year, we started this newsletter to tell the story of building a medical school from the ground up. The idea for a weekly newsletter came from
three distinguished emeritus deans who reviewed and evaluated our plans for the medical school. They were helpful in a variety of ways, but the newsletter was urged as a way to let people know about our progress and explain what a school of medicine actually entails.
The same three deans are helping us now as we begin our search for an Internal Medicine Chair. We hope to have a chair identified by January.
Funding Milestone, Accreditation Advances
Last July, we had just completed the legislative session where the Nevada legislature and Governor Brian Sandoval approved startup funding of nearly $27 million. It was an incredible milestone. At that time we had six employees. Today, we have nearly 30 faculty and staff, and plan to add another 30 over the next year.
This past year faculty and staff have pored over every aspect of the educational program to assemble a first-class curriculum. The school's accreditation documents were submitted to the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) on schedule in December earning a site visit in July.
Building on our Mission
Faculty committees have created learning objectives for every hour of the first two years of the curriculum and are currently working on the third and fourth years.
We worked closely with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) to finalize our accreditation documentation, create our practice plan, and develop a sustainable clinical model. The clinical model will focus on Medicaid and Medicare patients for primary care and then will broaden referral sources for higher-level specialists and sub-specialists that we will recruit. PwC is now helping us to identify exactly what kind of space and number of faculty we will need for our teaching clinics.
Planning for the school's other two other missions - community service and research - also markedly advanced within the past year.
Community service is essential. We want our faculty and students embedded in the community to help solve social issues. Dr. Laura Culley, Associate Dean for Health Policy and Community Affairs, has identified the community issues our curriculum.
On the research front, Dr. Parvesh Kumar was hired as the Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research. This area will take longer to build. The reputation of a medical school is associated with the quality of the faculty and the research they provide - so it's a critical arm.
The most important step in our accreditation is yet to come. We will host the LCME site visitors July 17-20. They will visit our facilities, meet with me, as well as UNLV leadership, visit the faculty members who developed and will teach the curriculum and student admissions faculty, and administrators representing all areas of the medical school. They also will meet with community representatives. It will be an incredible three days. We will learn if we achieved preliminary accreditation in October.
Meet Jerrie E. Merritt, senior vice president and community development manager for the Bank of Nevada.
Her current focus is to strengthen existing client relationships and build strong community partnerships. In her role she develops and coordinates all community development and acts as a liaison with state and local agencies, nonprofit development groups, and participants in community and economic development programs. According to Jerrie, "few things are as important to a community as the availability of qualified medical providers, and the opportunity to create more of them. The UNLV School of Medicine will do that and so much more for the community at large. I am honored to be part of the UNLV Community Advisory Board to help guide those efforts and plan for our future."
Among Nevada's troubling health care stats: The state lacks an officially designated National Cancer Institute (NCI). Elsewhere such institutes have been responsible for many treatment breakthroughs and give their communities access to potentially life-saving research trials. One of the newest hires at UNLV's School of Medicine, aims to change that.