GME: Critical Component to the UNLV School of Medicine.
GME: Critical Component to the UNLV School of Medicine.

Graduate medical education (GME) is critical in the training to become a physician.  Residencies, for example, are where most new graduates of medical school learn to perform the responsibilities and duties of their chosen specialties.

By the time a residency is completed, a physician should be ready to practice without supervision and lead a team in taking care of patients. It isn’t easy, and 80-hour weeks are often the norm. But for many, a residency will basically be the last step in making a dream come true.

For some, the road doesn’t end there. Because of the complexity of some areas of medicine, additional GME training after residency in the form of fellowships is required.

At the UNLV School of Medicine, Dr. Kate Martin, associate dean of graduate medical education, currently oversees 20 post graduate training programs with 321 residents/fellows. The overall program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Dr. Martin and her staff do everything from helping keep residents/fellows healthy to dealing with funding mechanisms for post-graduate education.

Prior to her current post at the medical school, she served as family medicine residency program director and director of community engagement. A graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, where she also completed her family medicine residency, Dr. Martin went on to complete a Teaching and Learning Fellowship with the USC Keck School of Medicine and a National Institute for Program Director Development Fellowship with the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors.

A 2002 UNLV summa cum laude graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree in biology, Dr. Martin was the 2016 Honors College Alumna of the Year.

Today, Dr. Martin says because of her staff’s two-year team effort, two more fellowships were added by the ACGME in 2019 — one in pediatric emergency medicine and another in geriatrics. “This means we can recruit new fellows to start in July 2020,” she says. “We are also currently applying for accreditation to start a fellowship program in forensic psychiatry and adult endocrinology.”

How important are new fellowships to the people of Southern Nevada? According to a recent report by the Nevada Health Workforce, they are critical, given that many physicians stay to practice where they finish their GME training.

A key finding of this report is that 35 of the 43 physicians pursuing additional training (81.4%) are leaving the state for fellowship and subspecialty training that does not exist or is in short supply in Nevada. This finding suggests that the development of fellowship programs in Nevada holds the potential for increasing the number and percent of GME graduates who ultimately remain in Nevada to begin practice.  

At present, about 50 percent of those who complete our residencies/fellowships stay in Southern Nevada. 

Dr. Martin pointed out that during her tenure the ob/gyn, psychiatry, critical care medicine and critical care surgery GME programs have expanded, with funding from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology While the addition of these programs goes a long way in helping to keep physicians in Nevada, even more GME programs and residencies are needed.

Photo: Residents practicing suturing, Courtesy of UNLV School of Medicine

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