First class of surgical residents graduates from UNLV School of Medicine.
First class of surgical residents graduates from UNLV School of Medicine.

Nancy Rivera, MD, and Allison McNickle, MD, share membership in a few exclusive “clubs.” They are members of the first class of surgical residents who graduated from the UNLV School of Medicine June 16, and they were part of the massive medical team that cared for hundreds of victims of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas mass shooting.  Both will remain in Nevada to practice acute care surgery.

According to Dr. John Fildes, department chair and head of trauma at UMC, “that event (the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history) changed all of us, forever, in a good way,” he said. “It reminds us that after you’ve seen the worst in man, you will see the best in mankind. There is no other department of surgery in any other city in the world that can match what you did here in Las Vegas,” he told the graduates of their “exemplary performance” in the aftermath of the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting in which 58 people died and 851 were injured.

Dr. Rivera, who hails from Alamogordo, New Mexico, said her two young sons keep her motivated.  “On Oct. 1, all my years of preparation were put to the test and my training served me and my patients well.”

Dr. McNickle, a Villa Park, Illinois, native, said the challenge of acute care medicine lies in the unknown.  “We never know who will walk in our doors and under what condition.  But fortunately, thinking on our feet is at the core of our training.”

While it was the first graduation for the UNLV School of Medicine’s department of surgery, it was the 32nd graduation for the department itself through its former affiliation with UNR.

Photo: Nancy Rivera, MD

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