Town Hall reveals the New Face of Healthcare in Southern Nevada.
Town Hall reveals the New Face of Healthcare in Southern Nevada.

At the recent Town Hall on February 27 entitled “Meet the New Face of Healthcare in Southern Nevada,” and hosted by the city of Las Vegas and Clark County Medical Society, members of the Las Vegas Medical District came together to discuss the future of medicine in our community to an audience of more than 150 stakeholders. Presenters shared updates on their respective programs and profiles of the students enrolled in these programs to paint a robust picture of those who will soon shape the practice and delivery of healthcare in Southern Nevada.

According to Diane Z. Chase, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Provost, UNLV, members of the inaugural class of the UNLV School of Medicine were recruited, in part, based on their ties to Nevada. Those with residency and family connections to the Silver State were given preference to encourage more graduating doctors to stay and practice in Nevada. “The future of medicine here rests in large part on the next generation of doctors, nurses and other practitioners who are being trained right now.”

Chase discussed the university’s various medical programs which include more than 5,000 students. Highlights include the fact that UNLV School of Medicine students were trained as Emergency Medical Technicians right off the bat. The experience of riding along with ambulance crews helped them learn about underserved populations in the community. UNLV’s School of Allied Health Services is adding a new doctorate program in occupational therapy and a master’s in nutrition sciences while performing some groundbreaking research. In the department of Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences, students are exploring the effect of weighted backpacks for children with autism; and in the department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences, research is underway on the effect of cosmic radiation on human tissues.

At UNLV’s School of Nursing, the university’s longest-running health-related school established 53 years ago, more than 200 undergraduate and 100 graduate students are enrolled each year. The program has been ranked among the top 20 schools in the nation for best online graduate Nursing programs by U.S. News & World Report since 2014.

At UNLV’s School of Community Health Sciences, students are on the front lines of education, research and service in public health. For example, the School’s Healthy Homes program partners students with the city of Las Vegas and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to offer free repairs on the city’s oldest homes, removing lead-based paint and other health hazards.

And finally, UNLV’s School of Dental Medicine receives more than 2,000 applicants each year for 80 positions. Committed to the community, the School of Dental Medicine has delivered more than $1 million in free services via 50,000 to 60,000 visits, providing dental care to Southern Nevada’s underserved populations.

John Fildes, M.D., Medical Director of UMC’s Trauma Center and Chair of the UNLV School of Medicine Department of Surgery, said the Department of Surgery has graduated 113 residents in General Surgery, Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology, along with 48 fellows in Acute Care Surgery, Microvascular Plastic Surgery and other areas. UMC’s “surgical learners” are in their 20s and 30s; one-third are women; one in five are from Nevada or have strong ties to the state; they finished in the top half of their medical schools; and half go into private practice while half pursue fellowships.

On the topic of One October, Fildes painted a very compelling picture of UMC’s response, which has been well chronicled by the global media. In fact, the U.S. Military is now studying UMC’s heroic and successful response to the mass shooting as a possible case study to share with other major metropolitan hospitals throughout the country. Notably and remarkably, not a single patient who arrived at UMC alive that night died. That fact alone speaks volumes about the quality of care victims received.

According to Fildes, in addition to the many on-staff doctors and nurses who responded to the tragedy that night, more than 30 residents and fellows worked alongside surgeons, helping to triage and evaluate patients brought to UMC that night, and performing surgeries alongside the attending surgeons and providing follow-up care for patients.

“A normal busy night at UMC’s Trauma Center might include two or three gunshot wounds,” said Fildes. “So by comparison, the One October numbers are unprecedented. Our entire staff, including medical students, military surgeons from Nellis Air Force Base and other area hospitals, all responded to the call. It was a remarkable team effort and highly coordinated response to a despicable act.”

Down the street from UMC is Valley Hospital which runs a Pharmacy Resident Program. According to Cynthia Derouin, Director of Pharmacy for Valley Hospital Medical Center, two candidates were chosen from 27 national applicants in 2017 for pharmacy residencies. Valley Hospital, which now participates in the National Match program for pharmacy residencies, looks to expand the program in the future by adding a second year of intensive training in a specialty area such as critical care, infectious disease or oncology.

Photo: Diane Z. Chase, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Provost, UNLV, speaks at the event.

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