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The School of Medicine: A Regent’s View

With a focus on recruiting students with strong Nevada ties, the School of Medicine is cultivating a commitment to the community in future doctors, says John Moran III.

Business and Community  |  Nov 15, 2018  |  By Paul Harasim
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John Moran III, a regent for the Nevada System of Higher Education. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)

When you talk with John T. Moran III, a member of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, he argues that a great metropolitan area must have excellent health care available for all of its residents.

“Engineers, teachers, policemen, electricians, professors, students, families  — all the people who make a great community — are not going to come here, and stay here, if their health care needs are not taken care of,” Moran says. “People understand that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

Given that philosophy, it should come as no surprise that Moran is a true believer in what the new UNLV School of Medicine means to Southern Nevada. He envisions a world class academic center — one that works collaboratively with other local health care institutions and professionals and that teaches a diverse group of future Nevada doctors how to work in health care teams, developing novel, yet classically based, treatment solutions for diseases of the present and future. 

“The new medical school is off to a great start,” says Moran, a Las Vegas attorney who was elected to serve on the board of regents in 2016 as the representative for District 13. “Dr. (Barbara) Atkinson has shown as founding dean the kind of leadership necessary to accomplish full accreditation at lightning speed.”

Moran — his wife Melissa is also an attorney and they have two children — notes that the charter class, which successfully completed year one in June, scored above the national average on board exams that are usually taken at the end of year two.

“We are getting the best and brightest and among the most diverse students,” he says. “We are so fortunate to have donors who believe in the school’s mission. For them to provide scholarships to students is just wonderful and so important.”

Moran points out that about 25 percent of the UNLV medical school students come from populations traditionally underrepresented in medical school when the national average is around 5 percent. “Our students look like Nevada and since they have strong ties to the state (they either grew up here or have strong Nevada family links ),  they’re probably going to stay here,” he says. “They’ll help us build a strong medical community.” 

Both the school and its clinical arm, UNLV Medicine, are on the right track, he says, noting that new doctors are being recruited from long-time institutions of medical excellence that include Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt, and the Mayo Clinic.

A third-generation native Nevadan, Moran says it’s clear that acting UNLV President Marta Meana is “watering the seeds previously planted” for a “quality medical school.”  He looks forward to the construction of the first new medical education building getting underway. 

“We’re all going to work to get this first major building for the medical school done right,” he says. “We want to make sure that it’s the right building for students, faculty, and the community. I take this stuff very seriously. It’s too important to misdiagnose."