As the largest urban area in the United States without an allopathic public medical school, Las Vegas is currently under-serving its diverse population. In order to more fully address the health care needs of southern Nevada, the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) is opening the doors of its new School of Medicine to train healthcare professionals and to provide necessary medical care to residents of the area. Under the guidance of an administrative board that includes our very own Dr. Michael Edwards, board-certified plastic surgeon and former president of the Clark County Medical Society, this UNLV Medical School is slated to open its doors in the fall semester of 2017.
The Need for a Medical School in Las Vegas
As a resident of the Las Vegas area, you may have noticed how difficult it is to schedule an appointment with your general practitioner or a specialist due to long wait times and limited availability. Although the University of Nevada Reno has maintained a clinical campus in the area since 1981, the output of healthcare professionals has not been enough. With a city of two million residents, the current medical staff simply cannot take care of everyone.
Part of that problem stems from the fact that many of the physicians trained in Reno have decided to leave for jobs in other parts of the country. The new Las Vegas medical school hopes to remedy this problem by primarily recruiting Nevada students with an interest in giving back to their communities and staying in the Las Vegas region; to accomplish this, UNLV medical school plans to offer a combination of medical education with new technology and a focus on residency placements in the local medical facilities .
The Progress on the School of Medicine
The UNLV School of Medicine is already making good progress toward accepting and greeting its inaugural class of students in the fall of 2017. Under the leadership of accomplished researcher and administrator Barbara Atkinson, the founding dean of UNLV Medical School, some faculty members have been hired and a memorandum of understanding has been reached with the city of Las Vegas for a building location near the University Medical Center.
To help entice more students to the new medical program, Dean Atkinson and her team have raised more than $13 million in scholarship funds, enough to cover the entire inaugural class’ tuition and fees for all four years of medical school. Additional scholarships have been levied for the next several classes of medical students, all in an attempt to encourage the best and brightest students to remain in the Las Vegas area.
Although the official accreditation process is long, Atkinson and her team have submitted the crucial 475 pages of accreditation documents to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education . This is the first step to officially getting the program off the ground. With a supportive and active board of local physicians and specialists, including Dr. Edwards, the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Medicine will be opening its doors and providing Las Vegas with the medical professionals its been waiting for.