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Keeping Our Doctors Here

Turning medical students into lifelong residents is a big part of the UNLV School of Medicine's curriculum.

Campus News  |  Sep 30, 2015  |  By Cate Weeks

The UNLV School of Medicine is designing its curriculum to build students ties with the Nevada medical community. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

UNLV’s new School of Medicine will be tackling our state’s doctor shortage by addressing some key infrastructure needs — such as creating more residency programs in local hospitals so its students really can stay here after they graduate — but it’s also working to turn those students into committed Nevadans.

“We wholeheartedly believe if our students develop relationships throughout our community from day one, it will influence their decision to stay in Nevada long term,” said Dr. Barbara Atkinson, the school’s planning dean. If all goes well with the accreditation process, the school could welcome its first class as soon as August 2017.

Here are three ways the school is designing its curriculum to promote those community ties:

1. Saving lives from the start

During their first six-weeks on campus, all students will attain certification as emergency medical technicians. “From the beginning, they will be providing trauma care in the homes and streets of Las Vegas,” Atkinson said.

2. Involved in the community

Students will spend several hours a week in a community service project of their choice during their first year and full month in year four. The school currently is developing ties with local faith-based and health service organizations, such as Opportunity Village, Lutheran Social Services, and Nathan Adelson Hospice, to set the groundwork for future programs. “In addition to academic achievement, we expect to attract a student body reflective of the diversity of Southern Nevada” Atkinson said. “We also want our students to demonstrate personal qualities of community activism, leadership, optimism, and dedication to serving their patients and their community.”

3. Building relationships

Students will spend almost a full year in clerkships so they get to know patients over time and start building relationships and networking with health care professionals in the Southern Nevada before they graduate. In a community clinic setting, they will experience firsthand how outpatient medicine integrates such specialties as family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. They’ll round out their year with intensive inpatient experiences in anesthesiology, internal medicine, and surgery. “This replaces the traditional block rotation model in which students learn one specialty at a time in a hospital setting and then move on,” Atkinson said.