Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

Fall 2014

Message from Vice President Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D.

Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D.

The Nevada legislature and the Governor will be paying considerable attention to improving the state's mental health system in the upcoming session. Governor Sandoval has appointed a Behavioral Health and Wellness Council to provide short-term and long-term recommendations to improve the state's mental health system. The UNR Division of Health Sciences has considerable expertise to help implement those recommendations and to contribute to improving Nevada's system.

The Orvis School of Nursing recently approved a new psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner track, within the Master of Science degree program, to help alleviate the shortage of psychiatric nurse practitioners in the state. The new track is designed to prepare psychiatric nurse practitioners who will address acute and chronic mental health problems in the community, increase the mental health care workforce and provide expertise in particular to parts of the state with limited mental health care.

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences has long provided tele-psychiatry mental health care to rural areas through the University of Nevada School of Medicine Telemedicine program. Tele-psychiatry allows rural and frontier patients to be seen by a psychiatrist in their home environment. In addition, the department offers comprehensive mental health and counseling services for children and adults. The members of the UNSOM Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences are board-certified psychiatrists who teach, conduct research and provide specialized clinical care, with access to the latest research and technology to help them provide the most advanced care.

The Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT) continues to play an important and active role in the Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Coalition advocating and recommending solutions to improve mental and behavioral health in Nevada. Many of CASAT's programs support workforce development initiatives that provide technical training and certification for peer support specialists and substance abuse counselors to work in communities with individuals with substance abuse and behavioral health issues, which helps extend the reach of other health care professionals.

The School of Social work recently received a $1.3 million dollar grant to expand the number of social workers qualified to practice in the area of behavioral health with children and transitional age youth (those between 15-21 years of age). This program will be conducted in collaboration with CASAT.

Faculty in the School of Community Health Sciences are researching a variety of mental health and behavioral issues that include such issues as older adults and emotion regulators, social isolation of people with mobility limitations, assessing the impact of adverse childhood experiences on behavioral health, and cyberbullying on college students and campus-safety and college-age women's psychological distress. Additionally, some of the faculty will be conducting the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey to Nevada high school and middle school students that included many mental and behavioral health variables.

The Student Health Center offers services to address mental health concerns of our students and have both psychiatrists and psychologists to assist in diagnosing and treating a wide range of mental health conditions including but not limited to depression, anxiety, relationship issues, stress management, life and developmental issues, eating disorders and bipolar disorders. The center also offers online mental wellness screening.

These are just a few of the many ways that the Division of Health Sciences contributes to a healthier Nevada, and specifically to improved mental health care.

This work also reminds me to remind you to take good care of yourselves. Although the holidays are a time of joy, celebration, and rest, they can also be a time of stress. Please take care of yourselves and take care of those around you.

I send my best wishes to you, your families and friends for the holidays, and wish for you a fabulous new year!


News from Division of Health Sciences Units

Noted biomedical researcher Mick Hitchcock creates endowed chair for medical biochemistry

Noted biomedical researcher Mick Hitchcock has made a gift to establish the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D. Endowed Chair in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno. Endowed chairs provide a distinguished scholar the opportunity to advance their research, teaching and public service. This tenure track faculty position will bolster research development in medical biochemistry and support the mentor of future scientists

Last year, he established the Michael (Mick) J.M. Hitchcock, Ph.D. Fund for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and the Michael (Mick) J.M. Hitchcock, Ph.D. Fund for Graduate Assistants to provide bridge funding to the School of Medicine so that student research may continue uninterrupted despite across-the-board federal spending cuts, known as sequestration.

Earlier this year, Hitchcock made a gift to purchase analytic testing equipment which allowed the Nevada Newborn Screening to move back in-state from a commercial laboratory in Oregon.

The University's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology integrates the molecular life sciences from the most basic biology-chemistry interface to molecular genetics and bioinformatics. The molecular tools, discovered and researched by faculty today, will lead to technologies to manage infectious diseases, cure metabolic and cellular dysfunction, and define the physical quality of life. Faculty within the department are from the University of Nevada School of Medicine and the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR). As such, the new chair in medical biochemistry will be named by the dean of the School of Medicine in collaboration with the dean of CABNR.

Read the full article about the new endowed chair for medical biochemistry

School of Social Work receives $1.3 million HRSA grant

The School of Social Work at the University of Nevada, Reno will be better able to address the shortage of behavioral health services for youth with its recent selection to receive a federal grant of more than $1.3 million. The grant is designed to expand the number of social workers qualified to practice in the area of behavioral health with children and transitional age youth (those between 15-21 years of age).

The grant, granted to the University over a three-year period beginning in September 2014, was awarded from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It will provide up to $10,000 in individual stipends to approximately 15 students this year, with the goal to increase to 40 students, who are in the master's degree program in social work and are placed for field internships in agencies dealing with children and transitional age youth. The grant will also help the School of Social Work and the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies at the University to develop an inter-professional certificate in Behavioral Health with Transitional Age Youth.

Co-investigators include Jill Manit, MSW; Maureen Rubin, Ph.D. and Denise Montcalm, Ph.D., all with the School of Social Work and Nancy Roget, director of the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies.

CASAT receives grant from CDC for FASD training

The Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT) received a $1,100,000 five year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fund the Mountain Plains Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Practice and Implementation Center to address FASD prevention, identification, and treatment by developing, tailoring, and delivering discipline-specific curricula for Medical Assistants based on the CDC's seven core FASD competencies. Nancy Roget, M.S., M.F.T., LADC, executive director for CASAT is the principal investigator/project director.

Wellness and Weight Management Center relocates to Center for Molecular Medicine building

The School of Medicine's Wellness and Weight Management Center has moved a few hundred yards north to a newer, larger clinical space on the second floor of the Center for Molecular Medicine on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. The Wellness and Weight Management Center incorporates an interdisciplinary approach to developing individual lifelong skills to help lose and maintain weight. The team of internists, nurses and registered dietitians work together to assess weight loss methods that will be most beneficial for patients with the goal of guiding patients towards leading a healthy lifestyle and the prevention or control of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

"This new facility reflects the importance of our Wellness and Weight Management program to its current and future patients," said Evan Klass, M.D., medical director of the center and a School of Medicine endocrinologist. "This move also allows us to co-locate the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes into that same space to complement the services of the Wellness Center. The two programs work hand-in-glove to address healthy lifestyle choices and medical care for patients," he added.

The Wellness and Weight Management Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (775) 784-4474 to inquire about services or to make an appointment.

Orvis School of Nursing adds Psychiatric Mental Health to MSN program

The Orvis School of Nursing was recently approved for the addition of a new educational curriculum, the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track, within the Master of Science in Nursing degree program. The track will be open to those enrolling in the MSN program at the Orvis School of Nursing for fall semester 2015.

The new track is designed to prepare psychiatric nurse practitioners who will address acute and chronic mental health problems in the community. The role of the psychiatric nurse practitioner will focus on mental health issues across the lifespan: caring for clients in childhood, adolescence, adulthood and geriatric stages of life.

The new psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner track will prepare students to assess clients and make psychiatric diagnoses, determine and implement treatment plans and evaluate their outcomes, provide psychotherapy on an individual, group, or family basis; and ensure clients have the best support available. As an advanced nurse practitioner, Orvis graduates will also have prescriptive authority enabling them to offer a full spectrum of care for their clients. For more information on enrollment or the new track contact Sandra Talley at stalley@unr.edu or Deb Arnow at darnow@unr.edu. Read more about the new Psychiatric Mental Health program

Regents give final approval to affiliation agreements between School of Medicine and hospital partners

The Board of Regents for the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) gave final approval to affiliation agreements between the University of Nevada School of Medicine and, respectively, the Renown Health System in Reno and Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas.

These historic agreements will greatly enhance the ability of the School of Medicine to serve Nevadans and their health care needs by increasing the number, quality and breadth of physicians who train and practice in Nevada.

At the request of Marc Johnson, president of the University of Nevada, Reno, the Board of Regents approved the affiliation agreement between the School of Medicine and Renown Health in support of the NSHE strategic vision for public medical education in Nevada. The agreement launches the build-out of the School to a full four-year campus in Reno by increasing student learning opportunities, growing the number and type of residency programs, expanding research and establishing joint leadership/academic positions. Read more about the new affiliation agreements.

School of Social Work partners to evaluate training of child welfare workers

The School of Social Work partnered with the Nevada Title IV-E Partnership to work on a research project evaluating Motivational Interviewing (MI) trainings of child welfare workers. Evaluations of these trainings and collaborations between universities and Title IV-E partnerships are rare. Aaron Blackham, a Title IV-E trainer, took point on this project. In the project, the Helpful Responses Questionnaire (HRQ) developed by Bill Miller and colleagues was used as a skills-based assessment to rate the degree of reflective listening in participant responses. Blackham had the opportunity to work with Bill Miller at a MINT (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers) certification training in Atlanta, Georgia.

Student News

Nursing student offering a flu vaccine to a football player

Orvis School of Nursing student, Flyne Anderson, gives a flu shot to Nevada Wolfpack football player, Brock Hekking, during the annual Wolf Pack Football Team flu vaccination clinic.

Orvis nursing students vaccinate Wolf Pack athletes

This fall, Orvis School of Nursing students participated in a vaccination day for student athletes through the Student Health Center. Flyne Anderson, Lauren Gudgel, Nick Dovedot, Mandy Smith, and Laura Allen administered flu vaccines to the football players as well as members of other Wolf Pack athletic teams. Vaccination against the flu is important because it can be a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. By getting vaccinated you protect yourself, your community and those who cannot get vaccinations.

Thank you to the UNR sports teams for allowing us to practice giving flu shots and for protecting your community!

Nursing students promote health and wellness on International Walk-To-School Day

The Orvis School of Nursing Students participated in the International Walk-To-School Day on October 9 at Head Start. To promote health and wellness, the students planned and ran an obstacle course for the children and their families. The obstacle course had different stations such as ring toss, dancing, hula hooping, and red-light green-light to give kids and their families' different ways to get moving. The Native American community is susceptible to lifestyle-related diseases. Promoting activity at a young age will encourage healthy lifestyle behaviors in the future!

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