Eudora Brown Almond’s idea to create a day to recognize and honor doctors in her hometown of Winder, Georgia, was a meaningful statement in 1933. Now National Doctors Day — the day we show appreciation to the health care professionals who impact our lives — is perhaps more meaningful in 2021 than ever before. And especially so at UNLV.
Building a medical school in Southern Nevada is a game-changer not just for our community but our entire state. The UNLV School of Medicine serves and benefits all of us, in terms of both our physical and economic health. Not only will it transform health care in Nevada, we forecast that over the next 10 years, the School of Medicine’s programs will create an estimated 8,000 new jobs and pump $1.2 billion into the economy.
UNLV’s impact extends beyond the School of Medicine. In the past year, in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, our Health Sciences’ students and faculty have been committed to caring for our community, while remaining focused on their educational journeys and making great strides in serving the health care needs of all Nevadans. The contributions have come from all the Health Sciences schools – Dental Medicine, Integrated Health Sciences, Nursing, Public Health, and Medicine. And let us not forget that students, faculty, and staff are serving our university and broader community through Student Wellness, The PRACTICE, the Center for Individual, Couple and Family Counseling, and other critical health services. All continue to make significant contributions by caring for and keeping us safe and well.
Right from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in true Rebel fashion, students and staff stepped up and took a leadership role in combating the virus in our community. Last year, the School of Medicine performed more than 19,000 COVID-19 tests at one of the state’s first public testing sites. The School of Public Health has worked closely with the Southern Nevada Health District to train more than 200 investigators to help trace COVID-19 infections in the community. Through its efforts, Public Health has investigated more than 27,000 COVID-19 cases to help understand the spread of the virus. And in the last three months, the UNLV School of Medicine, in partnership with the School of Nursing, Student Wellness, and our sister institutions, has administered more than 79,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses. This fruitful partnership will continue in the months to come as UNLV continues to play a critical part in Southern Nevada’s vaccination effort.
The School of Medicine also broke ground on its new home, the 135,000-square-foot Medical Education Building (MEB), located in the Las Vegas Medical District. On track for completion in 2022, the state-of-the-art MEB will serve as the school’s permanent campus, allowing for expanded class sizes and providing space for additional research activities.
In February, we received the exciting news that the school was granted full accreditation, a testament to the hard work and planning by our faculty, staff, and students, as well as the commitment by numerous community and state leaders. By achieving this accreditation, we’ve taken a critical step toward becoming the world-class center for academic medicine we have all envisioned.
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be with our remarkable medical students on Match Day and witness the excitement and joy as they found out where they would be serving their residency programs. That was a proud moment for the School of Medicine and its charter class of physicians who will graduate in May, and it made me proud to be a Rebel!
The pandemic has placed a sharper focus on the importance of elevating patient care in Nevada for our diverse, urban community. It also has illuminated the caring, compassionate students, faculty, and staff at UNLV who continue to work to improve the health and well-being of our residents. Join me today, on National Doctors Day, in thanking them for their dedication to this calling and the proud and lasting legacy they are leaving for future Rebels.