December 14, 2021 - OB/GYN Healthcare Hero Departs Too Soon, His Legacy Lives On
In late November, we received some news that we didn’t want to hear: Kenneth Warren Volker, MD, who meant so much to the medical community, had died at the age of 58. The chief clinical officer for Intermountain Healthcare-Nevada, Dr. Volker played a prominent role in the establishment of a medical school at UNLV, frequently heading to the state capitol to convince lawmakers that the best way to combat a lack of physicians in Southern Nevada was through the opening of a graduate school of medicine in Las Vegas. In today’s newsletter, we pay tribute to this gifted OB/GYN, a physician-researcher, academician, and medical entrepreneur. Dr. Volker befriended me upon my arrival at the medical school in April 2020. I am indebted to his candor, availability, and friendship. I will personally miss him.
December 7, 2021 - New Program Making A Difference In The Lives Of Those With Down Syndrome and Their Families
We take our mission seriously -- The Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV will serve our patients, students, medical professionals and community as a transformational force for improving healthcare in Nevada. So you can say Dr. Kate Martin, an associate professor and our associate dean of graduate education, is following standard operating procedure as she works to help ease the challenges of the intellectually disabled and their families in Nevada. Not only has she studied how the lack of treatment resources and lack of coordination between resources now on hand can frustrate the most loving of families, but she has also seen it first hand. Spurred on by the love of a brother who died of the effects of his disability and by a medical school student researching for new methods of communication for his non-verbal Down syndrome sister, Dr. Martin founded the Down syndrome program at Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV in August. In today’s newsletter, we learn more about a program already making a difference in Southern Nevada, helping those affected with the most common identifiable cause of intellectual disability.
November 30, 2021 - Medical Student Not Letting Language Barrier Get In The Way Of Patient Receiving High-Quality Care
Laura Culley, MD, our associate dean for community engagement at the school of medicine, is always finding new avenues for our students to pursue the community service work that is part of our curriculum. One way is to help refugees and immigrants -- often they do not speak English -- navigate our health system when they arrive in Las Vegas. So it was the other day when a young refugee from Syria (by way of Iraq) needed some help getting lined up to receive dialysis at University Medical Center. Three of our Arabic-speaking students answered Dr. Culley’s request to help out as patient navigators. Says Dr. Culley: “It used to be that we looked for Spanish-speaking students, but now we have over 20 other languages that are represented in our student population.” In today’s newsletter, we meet Aziza Dhalai, a third-year student from the country of Yemen in the Middle East. By speaking to the nervous and exhausted young Syrian in his native tongue, she helped calm him as he waited for dialysis at UMC. The Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV -- we’re ready to help people from around the globe.
November 23, 2021 - Meet Paul Joncich: Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine Manager of Media Relations
We’ve known for a long time about the benefits of physical exercise. In the 5th century BC, the ancient physician Hippocrates observed: “All parts of the body, if used in moderation and exercised in labors to which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy and well developed and age slowly; but if they are unused and left idle, they become liable to disease, defective in growth and age quickly.” Now, unfortunately, the lack of exercise has become a major public health problem, with physical inactivity associated with the development of 40 chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. In today’s newsletter, we focus on Paul Joncich, our manager of media relations, a former broadcast journalist who’s anything but inactive. More than 30 years after he went to Loyola Marymount University on a baseball scholarship, he’s still playing the game he loves...along with tennis. Paul credits exercise with keeping him both physically and mentally fit, important, he says, to both sharing the story of the school of medicine with the media and to happily fulfilling his role as a husband and father.
November 16, 2021 - School of Medicine and UMC Continue Partnership To Improve Healthcare In Southern Nevada
In working to help meet the healthcare needs of Southern Nevada, the school of medicine continues to build the strong partnerships that enable the medical school to be a catalyst for transforming healthcare in Southern Nevada. Next year, the first permanent building of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV will be finished, thanks to the generous donors who contributed to the Nevada Health and Bioscience Corporation, a nonprofit corporation committed to the community, UNLV, and enhancing academic medicine in the Las Vegas Valley. Other collaborations with entities such as the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, area hospitals, civic and government leaders, and donors help ensure our students receive the necessary training to apply best practices that enhance health equity and quality of life. In today’s newsletter, we put the spotlight on Mason Van Houweling, the chief executive officer of University Medical Center, our main teaching hospital and Nevada’s major clinical campus. Together, Mason and I work to make sure that the alliance of our two institutions provides the most extensive and complete teaching programs for physicians who someday will staff hospitals and clinics throughout the state.
November 9, 2021 - School of Medicine and UNLV Health Celebrate Together At Employee Appreciation Event
Good institutions rise during a crisis; great institutions excel. Such is the case with the way that all of the employees of UNLV Health and the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV rose to the occasion during the COVID-19 pandemic to care for the Las Vegas community. From offering the first roadside testing irrespective of ability to pay, to implementing a convalescent plasma program to treat those suffering from the virus, to vaccinating our community in great numbers, our employees excelled. We are all here to care for our community and that we did! This past week, at Dave & Busters in Downtown Summerlin, we enjoyed a celebration of the collective hard work and efforts of everyone involved with the COVID-19 response. It was great to see everyone in this informal setting and great to meet families. Part of our thanks to employees was a custom-designed lapel pin with the COVID virus and the moniker, “We’re in this together.” We will wear this proudly. Our team came through in a time of need. I hope you enjoy the photos of our celebration in this week’s newsletter.
November 2, 2021 - School of Medicine Budget Manager's Family Inspires Her To Work Harder For Better Healthcare
Ever since the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV opened in 2017, we’ve worked to ensure that we are turning out physicians who will help transform medical care both in Southern Nevada and, indeed, nationwide. With our group practice, UNLV Health, we continue to do all we can to make you feel confident that when you visit one of our 17 clinics, you are being treated by expert physicians and other providers who are leaders in their chosen fields. These are obligations to the public that we take most seriously. We also recognize that in building the public trust we have an obligation to act as responsible stewards in managing our financial resources -- adhering to sound management practices that ensure fiscal responsibility is our financial standard of care. In today’s newsletter, we introduce you to Dechelle Brandon, our budget manager. She realizes that we must have our financial house in order if we are to do the most good in our community.
October 26, 2021 - UNLV Health Audiologist Highlights Importance Of Seeking Help When Hearing Is Impaired
The services offered at the UNLV Health Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Clinic at 5320 S. Rainbow Blvd. Suite 250 flow through our accomplished board-certified physicians and our highly trained audiologists. They’ll handle all ENT challenges, no matter how small or complex. Should you be experiencing hearing loss -- you may be having trouble following conversations or hearing the TV without turning up the volume -- chances are you’ll seek medical advice. You can call 702-671-6480 to book an appointment at our ENT clinic. Often the first step in finding solutions is to schedule a visit with an audiologist, who’ll run a series of tests to determine the cause of your hearing loss. If the hearing loss is caused by, say, long-term exposure to loud noises or aging, the audiologist will recommend treatments and strategies for managing hearing loss, such as hearing aids. If the audiologist discovers an underlying medical issue, such as an ear infection, you’ll be referred to one of our ENT doctors. Though audiologists and ENT physicians often deal with similar problems, ENT doctors deal with advanced medical conditions while an audiologist is an expert in diagnosing hearing loss and using technological solutions to help you manage it and live with it. In today’s newsletter, we focus on our head audiologist, Jennifer Cornejo, AuD. Dr. Cornejo can help guide you to the best solution for your hearing life.
October 19, 2021 - Kerkorian School of Medicine Employee Celebrates Her Rebel Spirit All Year Round
When you study the resume of Alyssa Hill, the admissions coordinator for the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, you learn that she helps the admissions office process up to 2,000 applications every year. As the number of applications is pared down by our admission professionals -- given the impressive backgrounds of student applicants, it’s not at all easy -- Alyssa coordinates the interviewing of 320 applicants, which goes a long way toward the annual admission of 60 students (with an additional waitlist of 60). What she enjoys most in her work is learning why students want to attend our medical school, why they want to help and serve people, why they want to help transform healthcare in Southern Nevada. “I’m just happy that I get to play, with the rest of the staff and faculty, a small part in growing the number of physicians in Nevada,” she says. In today’s newsletter, with UNLV Rebel Homecoming this week, we also learn that Alyssa is happy just being part of UNLV. How happy? Well, let’s just say her office decor could easily be mistaken for a UNLV Souvenir Outlet Store.
October 12, 2021 - AOA Honor Society Speaker Series Features Talks On Humanism Being At The Core Of Patient Care
In today’s newsletter, we turn our attention to the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Medical Honor Society Speaker Series, which is designed to broaden the human perspectives of students, faculty, and administrators. Last week, AOA brought Richard Gunderman, MD, to the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV as a speaker for the recognition ceremony for new honor society inductees and he was kind enough to give three talks at the medical school. Many of you may know Dr. Gunderman as an author of 15 books or from his frequent articles on medicine in The Atlantic magazine. During his talks, he encouraged both students and faculty to read books outside of medical texts, including the works of Albert Camus and Walker Percy, suggesting that one benefit of literary fiction is that it can provide insight into the human spirit and can actually change our behavior. I agree with this sentiment. To quote the great clinician and teacher Dr. William Osler: “The art and science of medicine are not distinct but rather twin berries on one stem.” Several years ago some colleagues and I published a study done at several medical schools showing a clear and strong association between participation in arts and humanities and positive physician qualities, including tolerance of ambiguity, empathy, lack of burnout, and wisdom. Reading engages the brain to allow us to better understand each other. To get a better idea of what Dr. Gunderman had to share, please read on...
October 5, 2021 - Current Plight Of Afghan Refugees Hits Close To Home For School of Medicine Employee
In today’s newsletter, we turn the spotlight on Elaine Aromin, the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine Manager of Contracts. In her position, she oversees the contract process, ensuring that contracts are accurately processed for appropriate final execution. Over 40 years ago, Elaine was in a much different position -- an 8-year-old child who was one of hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled Vietnam following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. What Elaine and her family endured and how she now reacts to the current plight of Afghan refugees strongly argues against xenophobia and hatred aimed at those forced to leave their home countries due to war, violence, or fear of prosecution as a result of race, religion, sectarianism, nationality and certain ideas, beliefs or political opinion. We must keep in mind that nearly all of us came to the U.S. from somewhere. In a sense, we are a country of immigrants and refugees.
September 28, 2021 - UNLV Health Sports Medicine Clinic Providing High-Quality Care to Athletes and Community
Sports medicine continues to play a growing role in American healthcare, helping to restore function to injured patients so they can get moving again as soon as possible. We’re proud to say that every day in our UNLV Health Sports Medicine Clinic at 5380 South Rainbow Blvd., Suite 320 -- it’s in the Spring Valley Hospital Medicine Building -- our sports medicine physicians and providers are using the latest non-operative treatments to overcome troublesome musculoskeletal conditions in men, women, and children. While athletes with UNLV, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and Las Vegas Aces are treated, so are non-athletes of all ages who suffer from conditions that include knee and shoulder injuries, muscle tears, and ankle sprains. The latest therapeutics are made available to those, including musicians on the Strip, who experience overuse injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel. For someone suspected of having a concussion, there is state-of-the-art equipment for a complete evaluation. Stem cell regenerative medicine is offered for many injuries, as are injection therapies for conditions such as osteoarthritis. In today’s newsletter, Wade Gaal, MD, an associate professor of family and primary care sports medicine for the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, provides a kind of update on the clinic that opened just over a year ago at its present location.
September 21, 2021 - Making Progress On The School's First Permanent Building
I’m very happy to say that we are less than a year away from the anticipated completion of the first permanent building for the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. The five-story, 135,000 square foot Medical Education Building will be a centerpiece for the Las Vegas Medical District. Since breaking ground in October of 2020, M.J. Dean Construction has been making great progress with more than 100 workers on the job each day. If you’ve driven by the site on Pinto and Shadow Lanes, you know the building already has a formidable presence and is beginning to take on some of the characteristics that will define its look and feel. Designed with unique architectural elements, the state-of-the-art building will have a stylish patio out front and a large staircase leading to a multi-story community space for public lectures, TED talks, and a donor recognition wall with a tribute to Kirk Kerkorian, the Las Vegas visionary and philanthropist for whom the school is named.
September 14, 2021 - Medical Student Attending Raiders Game Helps Save Critically Injured Fan
Populating our state with additional skilled and compassionate physicians is one of our most important goals, but it can be a long process. It typically takes four years of medical school plus an additional 3-5 years of residency training before you have a finished product. The good news is that all of our medical students are trained as emergency medical technicians during their very first month on campus. That means every student has the basic skills to assist in almost any type of life-threatening situation, whether it be assisting accident victims or helping deliver a baby away from the hospital. Occasionally our students find themselves in situations during their everyday lives where they can use these skills, helping community members in an emergency. I think you’ll enjoy reading about such one student who stepped forward in a pinch, providing lifesaving care and taking control of a difficult situation prior to a recent Las Vegas Raiders game.
September 7, 2021 - Helping Secure The Future Of Healthcare In Southern Nevada
In today’s newsletter, we feature the White Coat Ceremony, which has become an important rite of passage for medical students, one that welcomes them into the medical profession. We also discuss what the ceremony has given birth to at medical schools throughout the nation, the White Coat Campaign -- a way of providing scholarships to those who want to enter the medical profession. Heading our campaign this year are Drs. Philip and Ami Vaughn, retired physicians who are providing a matching gift for the first $20,000 in donations. We are honored by their commitment, an undertaking critically important to help ensure that young people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can earn a medical degree.
August 31, 2021 - Medical Student Aims To Provide Holistic Approach To Medicine
In today’s newsletter, we feature third-year medical student Paul Matthew Manno Cabugao, who immigrated to the U.S. with his sister and parents in 1999. For those of you who’ve read Making the Rounds over the years, you know it is not unusual at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine for immigrants to be an integral part of our school’s culture. We have both faculty and students -- men and women reaching for the American Dream -- continually strengthening the medical school through their contributions of immense dynamism and talent. We hope you enjoy this written snapshot of Paul and his family, individuals who show us yet again that we should be proud to be called a nation of immigrants.
August 24, 2021 - Key Player In Planning Of Medical Education Building Crosses The Finish Line In Ironman Triathlon
As the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine continues on the path to becoming a world-class center of excellence and innovation, smart-planning decisions are needed along the way. Whether it’s deciding on how space will be used in the Kirk Kerkorian Medical Education Building that we will move into next fall or consolidating our clinics, planning and managing those operations takes expertise and energy. Fortunately, we have an executive director of space and facilities management, Kim Case-Nichols, who loves to be challenged -- and not just on the job. In June, Kim participated in the 70.3-mile Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, a grueling test of swimming, biking, and long-distance running. In today’s newsletter, we hope you enjoy learning more about Kim, a woman who believes that being in top shape helps her work at the medical school.
August 17, 2021 - UNLV Medicine Is Now UNLV Health
For four years, ever since the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV opened in 2017, you’ve come to know the medical school’s group practice as UNLV Medicine. During this time, you could feel confident when you visited any one of our seventeen clinics that you were being treated by expert physicians and other providers who are leaders in their chosen fields. That remains true today. But with each passing day our group practice, a key part of the foundation of our top-tier research university, has come to be about more than diagnosis and treatment. It is also about helping to transform healthcare in our region through prevention and wellness programs, research, education, and collaboration. With that in mind, we believe it’s time for the name of the multi-specialty group practice of the medical school to better reflect the scope of its work. We believe a change to UNLV Health does just that.
August 10, 2021 - Medical Student Conducts Research On Motorcyclist Deaths Due To Poor Licensing Methods
In today’s newsletter, we focus on one of our third-year students, David Bandbaz. He recently shared part of the reason he came to be interested in becoming a physician. “For a lot of my childhood I was uninsured, and when I got sick, I’d feel a lot of guilt and not want to stress my parents financially when they were struggling already. Once when I was 12, I took that sentiment a little too far and ended up pretty sick with an infected skin condition I tried to hide with my clothing. Eventually, my parents could tell, so they took me to a doctor that charged uninsured families very little in Las Vegas. When he saw me, he told me he knew I was probably in a lot of pain and that he was sorry for me. I tried to seem like a tough 12-year-old, but I started crying and he hugged me. I could tell he meant it. The doctor who treated my condition really made me feel cared for at a time that I really needed it. Ever since then, I knew that I needed to be a doctor like that, too. I thought that would be a good use of my life.”
August 3, 2021 - Pediatric Access Line Helping Primary Care Doctors Treat Mental Health Issues in Children
Studies have shown that children in need of mental health care in Nevada have less services than in other states. In fact, the non-profit group Mental Health America ranked Nevada 51st among states and the District of Columbia in seven categories of youths at risk, including those who need help with psychological and emotional disturbances and major depressive disorders. The study also factors in children for whom private insurance doesn’t cover treatment. In today’s newsletter, child psychiatrist Lisa Durette, MD, an assistant professor at the medical school who founded, and serves as the program director for the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship, discusses how a grant program she helps lead, the Pediatric Access Line (PAL), ultimately provides children with more access to mental health care. It allows the state’s primary care doctors, the physicians who generally first see children with mental health problems, to phone into a kind of hotline (PAL) staffed by mental health professionals for recommendations on how to treat troubled children.
July 27, 2021 - Internal Medicine Resident Becomes Father On First Day Of Residency Training
We’re always looking for ways to engage our new students on issues that inform them of the world in which they will practice. This year, we set up a summer reading project for our entering students centered on the book, Fatal Invention, an incisive work written by Dorothy E. Roberts. The book is subtitled, “How science, politics, and big business re-create race in the twenty-first century.” The book points out that with the human genome project, it became clear that the human species is of one race. The book further examines how the biological concept of race promotes inequality in a supposedly “post-racial” era. Jennifer Young, our director of community engagement, did a superb job of coordinating the project that served as a catalyst for robust, if not at times difficult, discussion. Understanding who we are will allow us to better care for our community as a whole. In today’s newsletter, we focus on a recent graduate of the medical school, Dr. John Rovig, who’s now doing his postgraduate residency training in internal medicine through the medical school. Dr. Rovig, who’s become a stickler on medical ethics since entering medical school, is doing all he can to ensure that all Southern Nevadans get the care they deserve.
July 20, 2021 - UNLV Medicine and UMC Build The First Interventional Pulmonology Program In Nevada
In a release to the media, UMC, our main teaching hospital, noted what the latest collaboration between the state’s two healthcare powerhouses has meant to the acute care hospital: “UMC, in partnership with UNLV Medicine, has become the first and only hospital in the state to introduce the groundbreaking ION system, a robotic-assisted platform for minimally invasive lung biopsy procedures.” Today’s newsletter focuses on this procedure and Dr. Arthur Romero, the UNLV Medicine physician who is the state’s first fellowship-trained interventional pulmonologist, a man dedicated to improving lung healthcare in the Silver State.
July 13, 2021 - Art Student Pursues Medical School At Age 32
In today’s newsletter, we focus on one of our students, Danielle Eames, who took a road that the poet Robert Frost may well have said was “less traveled by” to get to the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. Thirty-two years young when she began her medical studies, she says a trip she took to Peru with a physician as a pre-med student convinced her that her life’s work should be in medicine. There, she helped care for people in their 40s who had never before seen a doctor. When it comes to healthcare, she’s well aware that Americans are far better off than people in less developed parts of the world. Yet she says America, one of the most advanced countries on earth, still needs to do better. “The fact there are people who don’t readily have access to medical care, or may go bankrupt if they do, is absurd,” she says.
July 6, 2021 - Dr. Sierra Mastrantonio Shares How Her Dream To Become A Physician Overpowered All The Challenges
In today’s newsletter, we focus on Dr. Sierra Mastrantonio, who was a member of our Charter Class that graduated in May. Now doing her residency in anesthesiology through the University of Utah, she wants to practice her specialty in Las Vegas and says she would love to “contribute to the development of a department of anesthesiology within the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine.” Needless to say, we’d love to see that, too. What kind of anesthesiologist will Sierra be? Well, she says what makes a great physician is “compassion, adaptability, leadership and constant growth,” qualities she says she’ll always strive for. When she had a shoulder operation of her own, Sierra recalls that her anesthesiologist showed his compassion in a unique way. “He sang a Britney Spears’ song to me just before putting me to sleep because he knew I would laugh and it would comfort me during an otherwise frightening experience.” Will Dr. Mastrantonio incorporate caring serenades into her practice? She’ll always do, she says, what’s best for the patient.
June 29, 2021 - Dr. Michael Daubs To Become First Holder of Endowed Chair in Department of Orthopaedics
In today’s newsletter, we focus on the philanthropy that has created the first endowed chair for the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, a $2.5 million gift that has improved the resources in our medical’s school department of orthopaedics that are available for research, teaching and clinical care. As physician-scientists well know, we need innovation as much as we need knowledge when it comes to major health advances. To arrive at a more desirable tomorrow, new avenues for cures and new pathways to treatments must be explored. The gift from Optum, the health services innovation company, and Dr. Tony and Renee Marlon, can accelerate the journey toward finding unique methods of handling challenges that arise within, and to, the musculoskeletal systems of Southern Nevadans. We thank them and know that Dr. Michael Daubs, the chair of our department of orthopaedics who has been installed as the first holder of the endowed chair, will do all he can to improve the care of our community.
June 22, 2021 - UNLV Medicine Surgeon Plays Critical Role Treating Burn Patients
Over the years medical advances have dramatically improved the prospects of patients following severe burn injuries, which represent the most severe model of trauma. Today, studies show that outside the extremes of age, most patients treated in a modern burn center -- the UMC Lions Burn Care Center is one of 128 in the nation -- should be expected to survive despite the severity of their injury. It is clear that the development of designated burn centers, where well-organized, multifaceted, patient-centered teams in areas of clinical care and research are on hand, has made a profound difference. In today’s newsletter, we focus on UNLV Medicine surgeon-researcher Dr. Syed Saquib, the medical director of the UMC Lions Burn Care Center. He leads a team of dedicated medical professionals who are currently dealing with a phenomenon unique to the desert environment -- severe pavement burn injuries.
June 15, 2021 - Medical Student Strives To Provide Quality Healthcare To Underserved Communities
It has been said that medical school can be compared with a marathon that keeps going and going, or a kind of intellectual and endurance boot camp that lasts four years. It is not uncommon for students first experiencing the intensity of medical school courses to quickly come to the realization that every hour not spent studying could prove disastrous to their ability to keep up with the material. Pressure? You bet. But not surprising. Remember, medical students are individuals who will one day have people’s lives in their hands, so pressure is something they have to learn to appreciate as a catalyst for solving healthcare challenges. While COVID-19 ratcheted up the academic pressure on medical students even more in the past year as virtual learning became an unexpected reality, for one of our students, Genesis Krisel Leon, the effects of the virus became far more personal. In today’s newsletter, we see how her ability to maintain grace under pressure as her parents struggled with the coronavirus kept her dream of becoming a physician alive.
June 8, 2021 - UNLV School of Nursing Grad on Road to Becoming Kerkorian School of Medicine Physician
There is no doubt that teamwork has proved vital in healthcare delivery, having a real immediate and positive impact on results and patient safety. The increasing complexity of medical cases and the specialization demands that healthcare teams be finely tuned. In today’s newsletter, we focus on one of our students, Mason Montano, a former ICU nurse who rightly believes you can learn something from anybody on a healthcare team, including the patient, helping to ensure that the right treatment course is delivered.
June 1, 2021 - Medical Student: "I Want To Lead A Life Of Purpose By Helping Others"
The more I get to know our students, the more I realize they will make a meaningful contribution to healthcare in Southern Nevada and throughout our country. They do what is necessary to learn the subject matter at hand and always go the extra mile to appreciate the full context of what they’re learning. I know that some of them will save lives in emergency rooms. Others will bring healthy babies into this world. Because of them, I feel secure that many people will live healthier lives. I can’t help but wonder how many times faculty and staff at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV will read about their accomplishments and say, “I knew them when....” In today’s newsletter, we focus on one student, Bobak Seddighzadeh, who’s well on his way to fulfilling his dream of becoming a physician-scientist whose research makes a difference in the lives of patients.
May 25, 2021 - Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Announces MD/MBA Program
I’ll never forget 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the surrounding areas. It caused over 1800 deaths and $125 billion in damages. It also caused the Tulane University School of Medicine, where I was then a senior associate dean, to move to the Texas Medical Center in Houston, 350 miles away, for a year. The move of 800 students and faculty was greatly aided by the gracious support of Dr. Michael DeBakey, a pioneering heart surgeon, a graduate of the Tulane University School of Medicine and chancellor emeritus at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine. Apartments were found near the medical center and some incredibly compassionate local students and faculty made rooms available. Our students were still taught by Tulane faculty using the Tulane curriculum even as they took basic science courses at Baylor. Other students did clinical rotations in nearby teaching hospitals in Houston, Galveston and Temple, Texas. While the move worked, I realized how much better it could have gone if I had had formal training in management. When we moved back to New Orleans, I put together our first MD/MBA dual degree program at Tulane. I had seen first hand how business principles can be useful in medicine. In today’s newsletter, we focus on UNLV’s first MD/MBA dual degree, which is open to students this fall.
May 18, 2021 - UNLV Medicine Physician Helping Patients With Diabetes Make Lifestyle Changes
In today's newsletter, we feature Dr. Ana Mrkaic, one of the UNLV Medicine endocrinologists who's doing all she can to help patients with the endocrine disorder of diabetes. Today, more than 30 million Americans have the disease and more than 84 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition that if not treated, often leads to Type 2 diabetes within five years. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes -- 90 to 95% of people have the Type 2 form in the U.S. -- share similar symptoms, including excessive thirst, increased urination, increased infections, fatigue, weight loss and blurred vision. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage, amputations and blindness. Like her UNLV Medicine colleagues, Dr. Kenneth Izuora and Dr. Amber Champion, also endocrinologists, Dr. Mrkaic doesn't want Southern Nevadans to ignore symptoms of diabetes. The sooner people are put on the right medications and diet and exercise regimens, the better the chance of reducing their risk of complications from diabetes.
May 11, 2021 - Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Awarded National Medical Honor Society
As I participated in graduation week festivities for our charter class last week, I shared a story with our students that I heard as a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (now the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania). It was told by Dr. Francis Wood, a former Chair of the Department of Medicine who took part in research that perfected the electrocardiogram as a diagnostic device. Though Dr. Wood died in 1990, his story lives on. It is an amusing tale, yet it shows the trust people have in physicians, that reveals how doctors must do all they can never to betray that trust... At the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, we’re doing all we can to ensure that our students understand that people will listen to their advice. I reminded the students to be truthful, to be true to their professions, to be true to their communities, and to be true to themselves. This past week was remarkable. In a very short time, a fully accredited medical school was created in Las Vegas. Our school graduated the newest group of young physicians, some of whom will soon be taking care of our community. We have a lot to be thankful for.
May 4, 2021 - Medical Student Stays In Nevada Fulfilling Need For Family Medicine Physicians
With the first graduation festivities of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV taking place this week, students, faculty, staff, and supporters of the medical school are sure to find ways to memorialize the occasions. Photos and videos will be taken of everything from the student dance to the May 7th commencement itself. As I thought about how these occasions will become part of the histories of families, our school, and our community, I also thought about how we could use this occasion as a catalyst to more fully document our histories, both personal and collective. At no time in American history have there been so many affordable tools with which to share experiences. Leaving written, spoken and visual history couldn’t be easier. A simple cell phone today can make you your own librarian. You don’t need to be Toni Morrison or Steven Spielberg to share the who, what, when, where, why and how of your life. Whether leaving sound, video or print, it’s probably easiest to go decade by decade. Who’s made a major impact on you? When? Why? Where? What’s brought you joy? Moved you to action? When life happened, whether it be COVID-19 or childbirth, how did you react? Through documentation of our lives (a half hour a day is a good start), we’ll get to know ourselves better. And that means our families and friends will, too. In today’s newsletter, we feature Horacio Guerra of our charter class, who is helping the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine make history.
April 27, 2021 - Former UNLV Soccer Player Fighting Through Challenges To Become Physician
So it’s about to happen: On May 7th at 2 p.m. at the Thomas and Mack Center, the first graduating class of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV will receive their diplomas. While COVID-19 social distancing and masking measures must be taken, the large venue will allow each of our soon-to-be MDs to invite 12 guests and also allows for faculty, staff, donors and honored guests to attend. All guests will be required to have a ticket for admission. The event will also be live-streamed from the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at the UNLV website. Among those we’ll hear from are David Skorton, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), UNLV President Keith Whitfield and Dr. Mark Doubrava, president of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents (NSHE). Founding Dean Barbara Atkinson, the first woman to head three medical schools in the U.S., will share with us how a medical school dream became a reality. In today’s newsletter, we feature Addison Guida, one of our first students who interviewed for a seat in the Charter Class. Though a grueling battle with cancer has kept her from graduating this year, she is now on schedule to graduate in 2023. Her determination and grit in overcoming grave health issues, coupled with an even greater appreciation for the importance of compassion in patient care, are qualities she fully intends to use on behalf of her patients.
April 20, 2021 - UNLV Medicine's Battle Against COVID-19: Over 100,000 Vaccines Administered
If you talk with business professors about logistics, they’re apt to refer to it as the overall process of managing how resources are acquired, stored and transported to their final destination. When most Americans hear about it, generally through the media, logistics are referenced in terms of the military -- how troops are transported to the battlefield, how supplies and equipment make it to soldiers. During World II, then Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower noted that you can’t overstate its importance: “You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.” Logistics are no less important in the current public health campaign against COVID-19. Shots in arms don’t just happen. We remain in the midst of an astonishing acceleration in the process of vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution. Coordinating the current effective vaccine distribution strategy, so critical to the nation gaining the kind of herd immunity that truly opens up society, involves thousands of people across the U.S. who truly want to make a difference. In today’s newsletter, involving the logistics of UNLV Medicine vaccination program, we hear from Julie Young, our Executive Vice President of Operations and Strategy, a key leader in our vaccination program that includes the behind-the scenes key input of Christie Putman, Debra Sorenson, Theresa Nolan, Michael Arausa, Kevin Ray, Chrstine Rios, Tina Galindo, and Lorena Ware. Fortunately for Southern Nevada, they’re all passionate about making a difference in the battle against COVID-19.
April 13, 2021 - Medical Students Hit the Jackpot Staying in Las Vegas for Residencies
Chances are during the past year, when masking has been used as a means of protection from COVID-19, you’ve noticed far fewer people complaining about, or showing signs of having colds or the flu. Is what you’ve seen among family, friends or in the workplace simply anecdotal evidence? No, as recent studies have shown, it’s far more than that. A study released last month in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, one that’s garnered media attention, found that across 44 children’s hospitals, the number of pediatric patients hospitalized for respiratory illnesses is down 62%. Children’s flu deaths are way down as well. Generally, between 100 to 200 die from the disease each year. Yet during the 2020-2021 flu season there’s been just one. Adults also are far less likely to have had the flu this season. While around 34,000 people died during the 2018-2019 flu season, U.S. flu deaths this season will be measured in the hundreds. Researchers largely attribute the dramatic change to wearing masks, social distancing and not going out in public with a fever. Some experts argue that the U.S. should embrace widespread masking in public, the way many Asian countries have. Such a culture shift among the general public doesn’t seem likely any time soon. But within the healthcare industry, where fewer employees have called in sick with respiratory problems (unless they’re suffering from COVID-19), there are those who argue all doctors and nurses should be required to wear masks even after the coronavirus is under control. In today’s newsletter, we focus on two fully vaccinated members of our Charter Class who will graduate in May. Will their medical careers include having to wear a mask anytime they interact with patients? It’s still too early to tell.
April 6, 2021 - Business Management Student Pursuing Her Dream Of Becoming A Doctor
There are times, like now, when I edit Charles Dickens’ opening paragraph in A Tale of Two Cities to include only positives: “It was the best of times...It was the age of wisdom…It was the spring of hope.” Yes, in times like these, when COVID-19 has brought us the worst of times, a long season of darkness, I rearrange one of my favorite paragraphs in the English language to accompany the growth and achievement at the UNLV School of Medicine. Wasn’t it the best of times when students in our Charter Class, spurred on by a dedicated faculty, came away from Match Day knowing that they all now can train in their chosen specialties? Can we not say that this school, born out of a very real medical and economic need for an academic medical center, catapulted Southern Nevada into an Age of Wisdom? Won’t this be a spring of hope as the students in our Charter Class go through our school’s first commencement on May 7 at the Thomas and Mack Center? How many healthy babies will our students bring into this world? How many people will live better lives because of them? How many lives will they save? How many times will we read about one of these pioneering students and say, “I knew them when?” In today’s newsletter, we feature Ashley Newell Prandecki, a member of our Charter Class, whose journey into medicine has been far from ordinary.
March 30, 2021 - First Year Student Documenting His Medical School Journey On YouTube
At medical schools across the nation, one thing couldn’t be more clear: Applications for admission continue to rise. At the UNLV School of Medicine alone in 2020, there were around 2000 applications for 60 slots, more than double the number of applications we had in 2017. Nationally, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) the number of students applying to enter medical school in 2021 is already up 18%. Geoffrey Young, PhD, the AAMC’s senior director of student affairs and programs, says, “This large of an increase is unprecedented. We can’t say for sure why so many more students have applied this year. Some students may have had more time for applications and preparing for the MCAT exam after their college courses went online. Some may have been motivated by seeing heroic doctors on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that there is an increased interest in becoming a physician. One of our students, Shaun Andersen, who was admitted in 2020, was well aware of the increased interest and shared his journey to medical school through a social media outlet, YouTube. In today’s newsletter, we feature Shaun, who now shares his journey through the UNLV School of Medicine with thousands of subscribers to his YouTube video channel.
March 23, 2021 - Providing Crucial Support From The Beginning: Dr. Mark Doubrava
As you may have seen or read from media reports, our first Match Day, the day our doctors-to-be learned where they’ll spend their residencies, the next step in their medical education, went beautifully. Our Shadow Lane campus was bathed in sunshine as each of our students who’ll graduate in May opened a deck of playing cards and pulled out one saying where they’ll spend the next three to seven years training in their chosen specialty. Elvis was there. So was a showgirl. After all, this is Las Vegas. While safety precautions because of COVID-19 held down the crowd, the coronavirus couldn’t contain the hugging and laughing joy of dozens of students during one of the big events in the life of a medical student. Eighteen of our best students will stay in Nevada for their residencies. Other students are going to 18 states, including at top programs associated with Stanford University, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Southern California. Many of those students have already said they’re coming back to practice in Nevada, the place where they received a full-tuition scholarship for medical school. In today’s newsletter, we feature Dr. Mark Doubrava, the chairman of the Nevada Board of Regents. One of the speakers at the Match Day event, he has long championed the UNLV School of Medicine.
March 16, 2021 - Providing Impactful Care: The Goal for Pediatrician Dr. Rebecca Meyers
During this Women’s History Month, we focus on UNLV Medicine pediatrician Dr. Rebecca Meyers. She says learning about the late Dr. Francis Oldham Kelsey, a physician-scientist whose actions in the 1960s went a long way toward preventing the FDA approval of thalidomide in the U.S., helped her realize women could contribute to the world of science and medicine. Prescribed for morning sickness and insomnia in dozens of countries around the world, thalidomide ultimately would kill thousands of babies and deform thousands of others. Americans did not escape the tragedy completely. Some physicians received supplies of the drug from the manufacturer under the auspices of its “investigational” trial. Seventeen births were affected in the U.S., but the country was spared the broad-based catastrophe visited upon Europe. As a little girl, Dr. Meyers found out about Dr. Kelsey’s fearless regulatory stance -- she argued the drug hadn’t been tested enough -- in the face of withering pressure from the drug manufacturer. “My dad (a college science professor) was so impressed with her -- he told me how strong she had to be to keep the drug off the U.S. market when it was being used around the world. I didn’t see many other women in science growing up during the 80’s, so learning about Dr. Kelsey really inspired me to see that area as a possibility.” In today’s newsletter, we learn that a key part of Dr. Meyers’ work, like Dr. Kelsey’s, stresses prevention.
March 9, 2021 - Hard Working Medical Student Already Valuable Asset to the Community
Next week members of our charter class participate in Match Day, the third Friday in March when graduating medical students learn where they’ll spend, depending on their chosen specialty, up to seven years of residency training. During medical school, a student chooses a specialty and later enters the taxing process of applications and interviews with multiple residency programs across the country. As you might expect, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in this year’s matching process, making all interviews virtual rather than in-person. Once the application and interview process is completed, training programs create a rank list of their desired applicants and all applicants create a rank list of their desired training programs. The “match” is determined by a Nobel Prize-winning algorithm managed by the National Resident Matching Program. The algorithm sorts through each medical student’s list of residency programs they’d like to attend, and aligns their preferences with the students chosen by the directors of residency programs. At exactly 12 p.m. Eastern Time on March 19 -- 9 a.m. at the UNLV School of Medicine -- the nation’s medical students will open an envelope with their name on it that reveals the name of the residency program where they’ll do their graduate medical education. In today’s newsletter, we focus on Sarah Grimley, one of our charter class students who anxiously awaits the news of where she’ll do a family medicine residency.
March 2, 2021 - Bright Future Ahead For Medical Student Inspired by Family Health Issues
Sometimes while you’re in medical school you learn something in an unexpected way. So it was for Diane Han, who’ll be one of our first graduates in May. A few months after she started medical school in 2017, the October 1, 2017 shootings on The Strip occurred, taking the lives of 60 people and leaving 411 others wounded. On that terrible night and on the days that followed, Diane was impressed with the teamwork necessary to help so many. “I was inspired,” she says, “by how public health, law enforcement, EMS and medical teams worked cohesively to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible. A lot of medical school is learning about hypothetical situations but this event helped me realize that the role of physicians is to use evidence-based medicine and all their training to diagnose and treat in situations that may be completely unparalleled.” In today’s newsletter, we focus on Diane, who plans on becoming an emergency medicine physician.
February 23, 2021 - Professional Athlete Helped by UNLV Medicine Returns to Say 'Thank You'
In today’s newsletter, we identify some of the surgical, psychiatric and ENT treatment UNLV Medicine afforded Drew Robinson, a professional athlete from Las Vegas whose mental health challenges nearly cost him his life. Dr. Tina Elkins, an assistant professor in the UNLV School of Medicine Department of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, points out that resident physicians in training played a critical role in his recovery. Mr. Robinson, whose story is well chronicled by ESPN.com, recently visited our ENT Department to say thank you. Dr. Elkins made sure resident physicians were there. She wanted them to understand that successful medicine requires teamwork. Said Dr. Elkins: “Every patient that comes in has a story, and at the time of the injury none of us know what their story was or will be. They (residents) were able to see that their compassionate, hard work has allowed a person to reach a new height. Drew has been able to affect many people, to help them on the mental health journey, but it is residents like ours who make this possible.”
February 16, 2021 - New Physician Happy With Variety Family Medicine Brings
When you read the local newspaper or watch the nightly news, stories about the COVID-19 pandemic, quite naturally, abound. The UNLV School of Medicine and its clinical practice, UNLV Medicine, frequently become part of the coverage because we take our mission seriously -- helping to service the healthcare needs of our community. We’ve been engaged in curbside testing, intensive care treatment, and vaccinations for the virus. But it isn’t only in times of crisis that we’re helping move forward the best in medical care for Southern Nevadans. Day after day we’re training new doctors and our faculty physicians work to make a difference in specialties that include pediatrics, family and internal medicine, psychiatry and surgery, obstetrics & gynecology, ear, nose and throat and autism.
February 9, 2021 - Black History Month
African American/Black History Month is an annual observance in February, recognizing the significant contributions of African Americans in medicine, education, arts, entertainment, law, politics, sciences, sports, and many other fields. In recognition of Black History Month, the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion invites African American faculty, staff, students, residents, and fellows to submit a photo that celebrates your heritage or culture. Participant photos will be included in a slideshow that will be displayed on the flat panels around the medical campus in February.
February 2, 2021 - UNLV Surgeon Had Passion To Heal At An Early Age
With Black History Month now underway, it is a good time to reflect on action recently taken by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). As part of its commitment to becoming an anti-racist, equitable and inclusive organization, the AAMC announced in November that it would rename the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education. Starting this year, the prestigious award will be called the AAMC Award for Excellence in Medical Education. In announcing the change, AAMC President and CEO Dr. David Skorton pointed out that the work of Flexner, an education specialist commissioned to assess the state of American and Canadian medical education in the early 1900s, did result in positive changes in medical education. But Skorton also noted that as a result of Flexner’s recommendations, five of the seven existing schools devoted to educating Black physicians were closed. And in his report Flexner suggested that Black students should be trained as “sanitarians'' rather than surgeons and their primary role should be to protect white people from disease. “A well-taught Negro sanitarian will be immensely useful; an essentially untrained Negro wearing an MD degree is dangerous,” Flexner wrote. There’s no doubt the AAMC did the right thing in renaming its award. As Dr. Alison Wheeler, AAMC’s chief medical officer argues, “the negative repercussions of Flexner’s words and work” can no longer be ignored. In today's newsletter, we feature a member of our faculty, Dr. Oluwafunmilola T. Okuyemi, an African American whose work reinforces the fact that Black history is American history.
January 26, 2021 - UNLV Medicine Professionals "Privileged" To Join Historic Vaccination Effort
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation in Nevada and throughout the country. When the virus initially hit our community hard, UNLV Medicine was the first major healthcare organization in Southern Nevada to step up with the curbside testing that is so critical in helping control the spread of the contagion. Our physicians remain on the front lines at UMC, treating intensive care patients with the virus 24/7. Today, our commitment to the community during this pandemic continues to expand. We not only obtained special freezers to house precious vaccines -- we are also part of a Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) effort to vaccinate individuals affiliated with NSHE, starting with those working in frontline roles in healthcare, public safety, law enforcement, public health and emergency first response. We will also be the primary vaccination point for Clark County School District employees. In today’s newsletter, we focus on three of our medical professionals who are literally injecting life-saving vaccines into the arms of Southern Nevadans.
January 19, 2021 - UNLV School of Medicine Personnel To Lead New Pediatric Skilled Nursing Facility
Well before the doors of the UNLV School of Medicine opened in 2017, community leaders and public officials, in addition to everyone who worked to make the dream of an academic health center in Southern Nevada a reality, agreed that the medical school would be deeply engaged with the community. The school’s commitment to the community is quickly made clear to incoming students: Students engage in a six week course called Immersions EMT/Population Health with optional EMT certification. They also explore a neighborhood and learn how to conduct a community health assessment, a major tool used in Population Health to determine areas of need and possible realistic intervention targets for positive change. In recent months, our clinical practice, UNLV Medicine, has played a key role in COVID-19 testing and treatment in Southern Nevada. In today’s newsletter, we feature yet another example of the medical school’s involvement in the community -- our department of pediatrics will direct medical care at a soon-to-open skilled nursing facility for children.
January 12, 2021 - Community Faculty: Las Vegas' Finest Physicians Contribute to School of Medicine
Community faculty, namely the physicians who volunteer their time at the UNLV School of Medicine and provide guidance to students and residents in the clinical setting, are key to the success of the school of medicine. These physicians also teach in our classrooms and contribute to important clinical research. They contribute immensely to our mission of delivering high-quality innovative education, research, and superb clinical care to meet the healthcare needs of the diverse and growing population of Nevada. In today’s newsletter, we learn more about such volunteerism and introduce two community faculty physicians who are among the individuals shaping the education of future physicians of Nevada. They are among the 400 community faculty physicians who are making a vital contribution both to the medical school and to healthcare in Southern Nevada.
January 5, 2021 - In-Home Stretch of Medical School Members of Charter Class Pursuing Residencies
In today’s newsletter, we focus on Monica Rose Arebalos, Damien Medrano and Kristina Cordes, three members of our inaugural 2017 class who are looking forward to a day less than three months from now that becomes one of the most significant milestones in the life of a physician -- Match Day. It is on that day, the third Friday in March, when fourth year medical students across the country learn where they’ll spend as many as seven years in specialty residency training -- another big step towards turning them into fully-trained, independent physicians. The match process is based on an algorithm that pairs students with residency programs nationwide. Even in this tragic Age of COVID-19, the Match remains the culmination of 4 years of medical study and deciding on a medical specialty. This feature should give you a better sense of the importance of Match Day and how a deadly virus has brought changes to this year’s process.