How Gregory Schreck, president of the UNLV School of Medicine class of 2022, became interested in science and medicine, was fairly straightforward.
His father is an engineer; his mother a pharmacist.
"They raised me to like fields in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), so it just kind of happened,” Schreck said.
In high school, he started thinking about how he could turn his love for the sciences and his desire to do something with and for people into a career. Becoming a physician seemed a natural choice, so he volunteered at a hospital in his hometown of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I worked as an assistant to a hospital unit clerk, answering phones, carrying supplies,” he said. “I was basically a gopher but I liked how people in the hospital helped others.”
He entered the University of Colorado, as a molecular biology major. Graduating with distinction — his grade point was a 3.85 — Schreck decided that a stint with Teach for America would give him a better sense of the high-needs communities he might serve one day as a physician.
Teach for America is a nonprofit that recruits and selects top college graduates to serve for at least two years as teachers in under-resourced public schools. While close to a third of the recruits go on to make careers of teaching, the organization works to ensure that alums support the movement for educational equity and excellence no matter their eventual career choice.
“I grew up middle class and I believed I needed to be exposed to people from challenging backgrounds if I was to really understand the best way to serve them,” said Schreck, who in 2017 received a master’s degree in education at UNLV while in Teach for America. “I certainly believe now more than ever that education is a key to helping people out of challenging situations and I also believe I have a better understanding of what my patients will be dealing with in their lives. One of my students, for example, was sleeping in a park two days a week because of how he was treated at home.”
Schreck plans on specializing in emergency medicine. Even before starting at the School of Medicine last year, he received his emergency medical technician training (EMT) at the College of Southern Nevada. With that training, he worked on ambulances for Medic West throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
“What I like about the emergency medical system is that the whole system is committed to answering anyone,” he said.
While UNLV School of Medicine graduates will recite the Hippocratic oath upon completion of their studies, each class also is expected to come up with a contemporary oath. Schreck played a key role on the panel that wrote the oath for his class.
Schreck said that medical school is “the hardest educational experience I’ve ever had, but I’ve loved it.” When he needs to take a break, he turns to music.
“I’ve been playing the guitar since I was 10 and enjoy how it helps me relax.” He has found four other students, Tyler Blackwell, Laura Wozniak, Darlene Julian, and Tristian Bakerink who use music the same way. They’ve formed a band, Desert Yety, that occasionally plays at the ReBAR in downtown Las Vegas.
“You need a good outlet from studying, and music is it for us,” Schreck said.
Class of 2022 Oath
As I commit myself to uphold the values and traditions of medicine, I offer this oath to those I will serve and those I will serve alongside.
I will afford everyone the respect and dignity owed a human life. I will treat the suffering of others as my own and treat my patients as greater than the collection of their symptoms. I will respect my patients’ autonomy in their care, so I will value what they value.
I recognize the monumental task of caring for another human being, and I will not attempt this task on my own. I humbly recognize that my knowledge is and always will be incomplete, and I pledge to constantly strive to learn more and to seek the counsel of those alongside me.
I will respect the authority entrusted in me as a physician, and I will utilize this to the benefit of my community. I will advocate for fair treatment, combat injustice, and confront discrimination.
I will embody the virtues that define a good physician. I will be compassionate and not be tainted with cynicism. I will be proactive and not be tempted by complacency. I will care for myself as I care for my patients because I cannot give to others what I myself do not have.
I will remember the reasons I chose to enter this profession. This oath is my dedication to a life of service to humanity, and I pledge to keep this covenant from this moment forward.