Dr. Barbara Atkinson was named planning dean for UNLV School of Medicine in May. An expert in the field of pathology, she comes to Las Vegas from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, where she served as dean and then executive vice chancellor.
What can the community do to help expedite the launch of a medical school in Las Vegas?
We'll be looking to the community to be our partners. Our planning process will encompass all of our stakeholders. Let us know your needs and your strengths. Las Vegas is an incredibly vibrant place -- we will have to encourage educators and researchers to embrace the opportunity here. We will need support to recruit excellent physicians who love to teach and brilliant scientists who are passionate about research. I was immediately impressed by the people I met here and the collective will to get the medical center off the ground. This momentum is very persuasive.
What about Las Vegas attracted you?
The opportunity. It's phenomenal! We have a chance to set up a medical center from scratch to serve this region, and do it in a way that will address our medical needs 50 years into the future.
How will a medical school here impact health care for my family, and other families in the Valley?
An academic medical center will bring first class health care to the region. We will be training new doctors, so there will be more doctors and more specialists-- as a result, access to health care will be easier. It isn't just the additional physicians that we will recruit and train; the whole health care sector will be energized. Residents will be able to participate in clinical trials and have access to the newest treatments. We will be able to accommodate the highest level referrals right here.
We should also keep in mind that it isn't just the health care sector that will be positively affected by a new academic medical facility. There will be economic benefits across the spectrum.
What are the first steps you'll be taking?
We have to bring together our partners to articulate our mission and bring it out to the broader community. I will be working to lay out the structure of the center, recruit faculty, and secure funding.
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I'm a birder. Moving from the eastern half of the continent to Las Vegas gives me a chance to learn more about western bird species. Like so many other experiences, noticing similarities will be helpful -- but it's the differences that make things more interesting!