Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

December 2008

A Message from Vice President John A. McDonald, M.D., Ph.D.

John A. McDonald, M.D., Ph.D.

I am pleased to announce three important leadership appointments.

Denise Montcalm, B.S.W, M.S.W., Ph.D., was reappointed as the director of the School of Social Work. She has served as director since Dec. 2003, and was re-nominated to this position by the social work faculty in the fall 2007. Dr. Montcalm is highly-respected by her faculty, and is a compassionate and thoughtful director and mentor.

Dana Loomis, Ph.D., was appointed to a four-year term as director for the School of Community Health Sciences. He served as interim director for the past 18 months. Dr. Loomis has helped lead the division toward accreditation of the masters of public health, and recently received approval for the first Ph.D. program in community health sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is internationally recognized for his work in environmental and occupational health.

Diane Chau, M.D., director of the geriatrics and palliative care fellowships at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, was appointed director for geriatrics for the Graham and Jean Sanford Center for Aging at the University. Dr. Chau has successfully initiated both fellowships leading to special expertise in care of the aging for physicians already trained in internal medicine or family and community medicine. The geriatrics fellowship recently received full accreditation for three years.


Six months have elapsed since we created the health sciences division. During that time, we have faced unprecedented financial turmoil resulting in shrinking budgets for higher education.

Despite these challenges, I remain upbeat about the future. Why? Because of the quality of our students, faculty, and staff; our mission; and our societal contributions.

Maintaining health sciences education programs is vital to the future of the state, and I believe that we will not just survive but flourish once past this difficult period. However, to accomplish this we must make strategic decisions armed with incomplete knowledge.

We have already discussed some of the opportunities the new alignment presents: broadening our base of extramural funding by creating multidisciplinary teams for research opportunities; exploiting some of the unique capabilities of our centers and appealing to a broader base of students to increase recruitment and retention. All of these approaches require us to remain committed and engaged.

Over the past two months, I have met with individual faculty in social work and nursing. Over the next months I will continue to meet with the faculty member in community health sciences and as many as possible in the school of medicine, as well as in our centers.

Our faculty are passionate about their calling and teaching, dedicated to their students and have a remarkably diverse range of interests and accomplishments. I attended a school graduation where a masters candidate stated about a faculty member “She saw something in me I did not see in myself.” The faculty member was brought to tears by the moment.

This is the essence of education – seeing something in someone they do not see in themselves, and helping them achieve their full potential. None of us would be here today without those special individuals who helped along the way.

As I met with faculty, I was struck by the affinities between their interests and those of faculty in other units. How can we harness these opportunities for interdisciplinary scholarship and research?

Our challenge is to facilitate meaningful connections exploiting complementary knowledge, expertise and passion that lead to tangible outcomes – new educational programs, scholarship and extramural support. Larger, more research intensive institutions, with critical masses of faculty with common interest and less demanding teaching schedules rely on graduate students, post-docs, seminars, national or international meetings and the scholarly literature to help serve this purpose.

We, by contrast, have a relatively small faculty representing a very broad range of expertise and interests. This is compounded by the geographic diversity of our campus and the presence of a major component of the School of Medicine in Las Vegas, as well as in rural Nevada.

The Division of Health Sciences Collaboration Committee recently surveyed faculty and staff members to gain your insights about the types of opportunities and events that the division could offer to enhance and foster collaboration and communication amongst us. The survey results have been used to design the activities planned for the division assembly scheduled for Jan. 14.

Three of our component units (the School of Medicine Las Vegas campus; the Orvis School of Nursing; and the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technology will present information about their units and suggest scenarios for collaboration. We will also have a series of round table topic/affinity groups that faculty can visit to learn more about common interests and future opportunities for collaboration.

Despite the demands on your busy schedules, I strongly encourage you to participate in this event and additional activities that we will be offering in the upcoming year. This will include the launching of a series of Health Science Grand Rounds that will provide a forum for guest speakers and our faculty to interact and share knowledge and expertise with one another.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season, and hoping you can spend time with those close to you.

News from Division of Health Sciences Units

CASAT Offers Online Academic Courses on Problem Gambling

The Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT) is offering undergraduate/graduate academic Web-based courses on problem gambling.

Through funding from the State of Nevada problem gambling educational funds in 2006, CASAT created two undergraduate/graduate online academic problem gambling courses. By increasing access to problem gambling information through online academic courses, the number of individuals applying for problem gambling counseling certification has increased in Nevada.

The courses are designed for students majoring in the health or social service fields, behavioral health treatment providers, the general public and human service professionals interested in addiction treatment as a supplement to their current field of study.

These courses meet gambling certification requirements in the state of Nevada and are NAADAC approved for 15 continuing education hours (CEUs) per credit. The two online academic problem gambling courses include: HCS439/639– Exploring Gambling Behaviors (2 credits) and HCS440/640: Treatment of Compulsive Gambling (3 credits).

Both courses are scheduled for every spring and fall at the undergraduate and graduate level. The course instructors are problem gambling experts.

For enrollment information contact Independent Learning at (775) 784-4046.

For more information about course content and certification issues contact CASAT at (775) 784-6265 or visit the program online.

Sanford Center for Aging Offers “Taking Charge Leader Training”

“Taking Charge" is an evidence-based program offered through the Sanford Center for Aging. The program, also known as the Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP), is an internationally recognized chronic disease self-management program developed by Kate Loring, Dr.PH., R.N. and colleagues at Stanford University.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports 80 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have at least one chronic illness and 50 percent have two or more chronic illnesses. The incidence of chronic illness in America is projected to increase as technology and medical advances extend the life span. Health care costs for chronic illnesses are predicted to rise as record numbers of baby boomers continue to age.

The leader training will be held Tuesday through Friday, Jan. 20-23, 2009.

Continuing education units (CEUs) are available through the Nevada Geriatric Education Center. Master Trainers Sue Harris, M.S., M.A. and LuAnne Steininger, B.S. will be facilitating the four-day training which allows participants to facilitate six-week workshops.

CEUs have been approved for nurses, marriage and family therapists, social workers and long-term care administrators.

CASAT Develops New Web-Based Resource Locator

The Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT) in cooperation with the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, demonstrated how Web-based technology can be used to enhance the accessibility of information to the public.

The project included the development of a resource locator, by Wes Hays, CASAT Web Developer/System Administrator.

Professionals and community members now experience the practical application of using a web-based format to access and share resources. The need for this type of technology is supported by results from a 2008 survey conducted in the Mountain West Addiction Technology Transfer Center region.

Results of the study suggested that providers recognize the necessity of integrating technology enhancement applications in order to provide real-time data in a cost-effective manner.

Bariatric Division Launches Project HOPE

The University of Nevada School of Medicine Division of Bariatric Surgery launched Project HOPE (Healthy Options for Prevention and Education), a three-year study to help students develop a healthier lifestyle at Roy Martin Middle School in Las Vegas on Nov. 13.

Approximately 1,300 students, parents, teachers and volunteers participated in the one-mile walk, including some medical students and faculty.

After the walk concluded, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman greeted the participants and signed autographs and Nevada State Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen spoke to the students in Spanish and provided an overview of Project HOPE's goals, since Hispanic-American children are at-risk for being overweight and/or obese, and 75 percent of the students at Martin Middle School are Hispanic-American.

A family instruction manual, providing education about the national guidelines for good nutrition and physical fitness and developed by the staff at the Children's Heart Center, has been delivered to pupils at the middle school.

In addition, 1,465 pedometers have been donated by Zappos.com for a walking-activity program, and Fresh and Easy Markets are providing organic fruits and vegetables for a lunchtime project to increase consumption to five per day. Each of these projects are 12 weeks in duration.

According to Pat Lau, program administrator, the division is also planning to measure the height and weight annually of all students at Roy Martin Middle School during the three-year study, in an effort to track changes in body mass index over time.

Get To Know

Center for Education and Health Services Outreach at the University of Nevada School of Medicine

The Center for Education and Health Services Outreach, or CEHSO, was formed 43 years ago under the original department name of the Division of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

CEHSO’s fundamental mission is to provide education, technical services and outreach to the state of Nevada, through their work with the School of Medicine and partners that focus particular attention on medically underserved areas and populations. CEHSO has been a direct provider of these core functions in addition to providing support activities to the School of Medicine and other health professions schools’ administrative and clinical departments in their education and training of students and residents.

CEHSO provides an array of statewide program areas that are administered through our three offices in Reno, Elko and Las Vegas. There are several broad categories within which these programs are grouped: health professions workforce; outreach and service; and education and training.

The programs provide specific technical assistance, services and educational outreach targeted at over fifty communities throughout the state. Caroline Ford, M.P.H., serves as assistant dean and director of the unit.

CEHSO programs include: Nevada State Office of Rural Health, Obstetrical Access, Nevada Health Service Corps/State Loan Repayment, MEDEX Physician Assistant Training, Rural Hospital Flexibility (Critical Access Hospital) Program, Emergency Medical Services, and Rural AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) Program.

Other programs include Telecommunications/Telehealth (47 sites), Office of Health Professions Research and Policy, Medical Education Council of Nevada, Health Workforce Data and Policy Analyses, Nevada Area Health Education Centers (three), Geriatric Education Center, AIDS Education and Training Center (two), Office of Continuing Medical Education, Rural Interdisciplinary Training Track, Distance Education, Student and Resident Education, and Health Careers Opportunities.

More information is available online or by calling (775) 784-4841.

High Sierra Area Health Education Center

The High Sierra Area Health Education Center, or AHEC, is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. While the focus is on the health care and public health needs of northwestern Nevada, the center works closely with the Area Health Education Center of Southern Nevada, the Northeastern Nevada Area Health Education Center and other partners to improve the health and well-being of all Nevadans.

All centers fulfill the AHEC mission to enhance access to quality health care through the provision and coordination of outreach and educational services throughout the state of Nevada.

High Sierra AHEC was established in Reno to reach the medically underserved areas of both rural and urban northwestern Nevada. Incorporated in late 2002, the center’s vision is to facilitate the improvement of the health care service delivery systems in Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, Storey, and Washoe Counties.

The programs and services of the High Sierra AHEC are responsive to the emerging health care and public health needs of communities of the northwestern region of the state through health career awareness and recruitment programs for youth and young adults, community-based educational activities and clinical training for health care professionals and programs that improve the delivery of health care services including the recruitment and retention of health care practitioners.

High Sierra AHEC also participates in a health career recruitment program that trains and places diverse high school students as volunteers in health care agencies. Students fill a community need for volunteer service while acquiring real life learning experience under the guidance of professional role models.

If you would like more information on High Sierra AHEC, please contact the center coordinator, Andrea Gibbins, at andrea@highsierraahec.org or at (775) 827-2432.

Health care professionals interested in receiving continuing education credits, visit the center's Web site.

Upcoming Events

Schizophrenia is Topic of Upcoming Psychiatry Grand Round on Dec. 17

Alexander L. Miller, M.D., University of Texas Health Science Center, will speak on Schizophrenia: Optimizing Patient Medication Adherence for Improved Outcomes at the next psychiatry grand rounds on Dec. 17, 2008 at 4:00 p.m. at the Pennington Medical Building, Room 16 in Reno.

Division of Health Sciences faculty are invited. Call (775) 682-8459 for more information.

Our People

Meri Shadley, Ph.D., associate professor and academic program coordinator of CASAT, was honored with the John Chappel Award for Excellence in the Field of Treatment at the statewide Prevention and Treatment Summit held Nov. 13 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Awarded annually by the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Agency of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, the award is given to a person who has exemplified commitment and innovation in the treatment of substance use disorders.

Stanley M. Abramow, M.D., fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, joins the University of Nevada School of Medicine as associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Las Vegas.

Ming Diane Zhou, M.D., joins the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Cynthia Brown, M.D., retired from the family medicine department in Reno last month. She served at the University of Nevada School of Medicine for more than 20 years and served as medical director.

Grants, Publications and Research Activities

John J. Hsieh, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics at the School of Community Health Sciences, recently published two papers in international statistical and biostatistical journals.

He is the author of the article Exact Distributions of the Empirical Generalized Survival and Distribution Functions, published in the Advances and Applications in Statistics Vol.10, and chief author of the article Effect of Epidemiologic Study Designs on Measures of Association, published in the JP Journal of Biostatistics Vol.2. Both peer-reviewed papers are available online.

Dr. Hsieh who more than 30 years of statistical consulting experiences and provides advice in study designs and data analysis to health researchers. Those needing statistical help may contact him at jhsieh@unr.edu.

Andra Prum, D.O. and Kate Martin, M.D., with the Department of Family and Community Medicine in Las Vegas, received a $5,000 grant from the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation to pursue their IRB-approved research project, “Perceptions and Evaluation of Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease of Women Living in Las Vegas.”

Prum is the principal investigator on a study for implementing a basic EKG reading and interpretation course for third year medical students in a clerkship setting and recently completed a year-long teaching and learning faculty development fellowship at the USC Keck School of Medicine.

Kate Sheppard, Ph.D., R.N., A.P.N., assistant professor at the Orvis School of Nursing, will present her research “Depressive Symptoms Among Deaf Adults: The Role of Culture” at the Midwest Nursing Research Society Conference in Minneapolis in March 2009.

As president of the National Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, Elissa J. Palmer, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine in Las Vegas, addressed the American Academy of Family Physicians’ annual Congress of Delegates at its fall meeting in San Diego. She also presented a peer-reviewed poster on “Preceptorship in Diabetes: Innovation in Residency Training and Medical Education.”

As a member of the academic council of the National Institute of Program Director Development Fellowship, she recently taught in the fall session of that program held in Dallas.

ElizaBeth Beyer, R.N., M.S., J.D., chair of the program in health care ethics, and Craig Klugman, Ph.D., authored, "Pass the Gefilte Fish: A Framework for Ethical Eating," which will be presented to the Society for Christian and Jewish Ethics in Chicago in Jan. 2009.

The paper outlines a framework of biological, socio-cultural, psychological and spiritual practices related to food choices. Ethical eating includes an integrated whole in which the health of the individual, society and planet are the highest goal.

Listen to the KUNR interview.

Student News

University of Nevada School of Medicine Resident Receives Prestigious Award

Kate Martin, M.D., a third-year resident in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, was honored at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Annual Assembly with the Award for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education.

The AAFP awards $2,000 each year to 20 outstanding residents, selected through a highly competitive process, who have displayed exceptional performance during their residencies and demonstrated exemplary patient care and leadership ability.

Public Health Graduate Student's Project Reveals Adverse Drug Affects Prevalent in Nevada Seniors

Paula Valencia-Castro, M.P.H. ’09, an international student from Chile and December graduate of the master of public health program at the School of Community Health Sciences, recently completed her graduate degree professional project on identifying risk factors for adverse drug events among Nevada seniors, using data collected by Medication Therapy Management (MTM) program, part of the Sanford Center for Aging.

Findings from this project indicate that Nevada seniors, who participated in the MTM program between 2005-07, took an average of 12 medications per day, with about half of the participants taking between 10-15 medications.

In addition, findings revealed that medication mismanagement events were prevalent in this group with 22 percent of seniors taking a drug identified as inappropriate for seniors; 71 percent having a potential drug interaction between two or more medications; 16 percent receiving duplicate medications, and 83 percent experiencing at least one adverse drug event.

After controlling for factors such as the number of medications used, number of medical conditions, and the use of multiple pharmacies, independent risk factors identified as associated with having an adverse drug event were: reporting at least one sign/symptom of depression, being male, and being between the ages of 75-84.

Seniors who reported at least one sign/symptom of depression were five times more likely to have an adverse drug event than those who did not; males were almost three times more likely to have an adverse drug event than females; and elders between 75 to 84 years old were eight times more likely to have an adverse drug event than those 85 years and older; after controlling for the number of medications used, number of medical conditions, and the use of multiple pharmacies.

Health care and public health professionals need to be alerted to the widespread occurrence of medication-related health problems among older adults in Nevada and the importance of screening for the risk factors identified in this study.

Findings from the study can be used to guide future preventive actions, focusing the efforts on seniors at higher risk for experiencing an adverse drug event.

Her advisory committee included Paul Devereux, Ph.D., School of Community Health Sciences (chair); John Hsieh, Ph.D., School of Community Health Sciences; Ann Hubbert, Ph.D., R.N, C.T.N., Orvis School of Nursing; and Larry Weiss, Ph. D., Sanford Center for Aging.

Valencia- Castro will start the Ph.D. program in environmental sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno in Jan.

CASAT Announces and Congratulates Dec. Graduates

  • Minor in Addiction Treatment Services (18 credits): Morgan M. Brano, Jessica L. Ernster, Nathan A. Jersey, Carly R. Nystrom, and Ashley M. O'Neill.
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Addiction Treatment or Prevention Services (21-24 credits): Jonathan Black, Sarah Braswell, and Shalita Singleton.
  • Advanced Certificate in Addiction Treatment or Prevention Services (21-24 credits): Carmen Lucero and Anjulie D. Silveira.

Health Care Ethics Program Holds Graduation and Cording Ceremony

The Nevada Center for Ethics and Health Policy held its graduation and cord ceremony for a minor in Health Care Ethics on Dec. 4, 2008 at the Knowledge Center. Students' posters on bioethical issues were presented. Congratulations to Tony Heng, this year’s graduate in the minor.

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