Since launching in 2017, the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV has had to find its classroom space where it could — in interim facilities at the Shadow Lane campus, and even squeezing into rooms used by the School of Dental Medicine.
In a little more than a year’s time, UNLV’s medical students will get their first crack at the school’s future when the under-construction medical education building opens to the tune of 135,000 square feet of state-of-the-art instructional space.
The nonprofit Nevada Health and Bioscience Corp. is overseeing construction of the building, which is already ahead of their internal schedule. Summer 2022, when the building is slated to open, will be a major milestone for the School of Medicine.
“Upgrading the facilities and continuing to upgrade the program in a number of different ways is only going to make what’s happening at the UNLV School of Medicine even more competitive,” said Maureen Schafer, CEO of the development corporation.
The new facility will offer expanded simulation and technology labs and clinical training labs, as well as a more robust digital library, and interactive spaces where students can do community health care work in-house instead of doing that work off site as they currently do.
It also gives the medical school tremendous breathing room to grow the number of students it can enroll.
The charter class of 60 students can be doubled once the building is completed. With about 2,000 applicants vying for 60 slots already, there’s no shortage of demand to swell those ranks.
The corporation has shepherded $150 million in contributions from the Engelstad Foundation, Lincy Foundation, and other donors during construction. The state Legislature previously had earmarked an additional $25 million for the building, but with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, that money was removed in a special session of the Legislature.
With lawmakers back in session this year and Nevada gradually recovering from the pandemic, Gov. Steve Sisolak has placed the $25 million appropriation back in the state budget.
The five-story building, designed by TSK Architects, will anchor the Las Vegas Medical District for years.
It also will be home to UNLV’s academic health center, drawing together the schools of Dentistry, Integrated Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health. The center, which will be overseen by medical school dean Dr. Marc J. Kahn, will not only be an important community point of care, but it will become an economic driver for local health care, medical tourism, and more.
“We’re contributing to the local economy by building this new $150 million building. We’re hiring people. These are all good things,” Kahn said. “It shows that we’re here to stay.”