One of the guiding principles we've followed in building the UNLV School of Medicine is to encourage our students to stay and practice in Nevada. We're committed to creating a curriculum that excites and inspires the best and brightest students to become an integral part of the health care system of Nevada, and possibly even stay on as faculty.
But how do we attract those best and brightest students, especially Nevada students or those students from other states with strong ties to Nevada?
As part of the accreditation process, we formed a student admissions committee to help us answer this question. In addition to academic achievement, we envision a student body that reflects the diversity of southern Nevada. We also want to attract students who demonstrate personal qualities of community activism, leadership, perseverance, resiliency, optimism, and dedication to exemplary patient care.
Here are the three steps we're taking to motivate students to stay here.
1) Scale down student debt. It's not news to anyone reading this newsletter that medical school personal debt has increased dramatically. For students in public medical schools, it's now nearly $170,000. For those in private schools, it's $190,000. Not surprisingly, this debt burden can (and often does) determine not only the specialty but also where and what type of practice medical students pursue. We believe offering full scholarships to our charter class and to half of the students in our next three classes will enable our students to pursue their specialty of choice. Special thanks to our Founding Scholarship Donors and especially the Engelstad Family Foundation for making 135 scholarships possible.
2) Ramp up additional residency training programs. If we want our students to stay in Nevada after they have completed their MD degree we need to offer timely residency programs. At this time we don't have enough residency programs or positions for all graduates. We also need to improve the quality of our current programs and add new specialties.
Some of today's popular specialties (currently not offered) include anesthesiology, radiology, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, dermatology, ophthalmology, and my specialty, pathology. We also need subspecialty programs in internal medicine and pediatrics. We are working with the University of Nevada School of Medicine to ensure a residency program in orthopedic surgery will start July 2016.
3) Connect with community in a variety of settings. Our students will be immersed in the community in four ways. During their first six-weeks on campus they all will be certified as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) providing trauma care in the homes and streets of Las Vegas. Second, they will participate several hours a week in a community service project of their choice. In their third year, under faculty supervision, students will spend an entire year in our outpatient community clinic providing care to underserved patients. Lastly, in their fourth year, they will spend an entire month in an agency providing health services to the community.
We wholeheartedly believe if our students develop relationships throughout our community it will influence their decision to stay in Nevada.