Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

February 2009

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

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

This last week I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the State of Nevada Board of Nursing during their visitation to evaluate the Orvis School of Nursing for re-approval. I was very pleased by the initial feedback from the reviewers regarding the operation, conduct and direction of the Orvis School of Nursing. The reviewers commented on the low attrition rate of students (99%) and high pass rate of the NCLEX exam (92%). Clearly the Orvis School is one of the best nursing programs in the state. I wish to commend the faculty, staff and Patsy Ruchala, director, for the hard work that resulted in positive results that were expressed regarding curriculum review, research and clinical education. Particular thanks are due to the Orvis students, who after are responsible for their own hard-earned successes. Interestingly, Orvis has integrated students into their curriculum committee, giving them a sense of ownership of their own educations.

Speaking of great students, I had the opportunity to review a proposal that was recently prepared by School of Medicine students soliciting funds for the Student Outreach Clinic (SOC) from the Redfield Foundation. The quality of the preparation and information that was included in the proposal to the funder was very impressive. One trustee said that it was “one of the best proposals they had ever received from anyone”. I want to commend the medical students for the professionalism displayed in the proposal. Moreover, the SOC brings medical care to many that could otherwise not afford it.

An exciting opportunity was capitalized on to create a new 3,200 ft. sq. clinical center for geriatrics on the health sciences campus. As those of you who have traveled to the north campus know, construction is underway for the new Center for Molecular Medicine, scheduled to open in fall of 2010. In addition to basic science research offices and laboratories and the Whittemore-Peterson Institute for Neuro-immune Disorders, the Center will now house a new University of Nevada clinic for healthy aging. The clinic will offer both primary and consultative outpatient care for patients 65 and older. All clinical services will be provided by a team of health care workers and performed within an education based framework utilizing experts in aging to teach interdisciplinary learners. The focus will be on prevention as well as management of acute and chronic conditions that affect older patients, such as cognitive impairment, functional decline, and falls. Diane Chau, M.D., chief of the division of geriatric medicine and program director of the geriatrics medicine fellowship at the University of Nevada School of Medicine will lead this new venture.

Finally, at our recent Winter Assembly we provided an opportunity for all of us to learn more about the units within the Division Health Sciences. I would like to thank the Las Vegas campus of the School of Medicine, the Orvis School of Nursing and the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies, for their very informative presentations highlighting their units and outlined opportunities for collaboration between the health sciences. The event also allowed you to meet and interact with others with similar or common interests. The information generated from the group discussions will enable us to create a data base that will help you identify and connect with fellow colleagues within the Division of Health who share your same interests. As a result of these information exchange sessions, some have already utilized new resources and have initiated future activities to begin work on new collaborative activities. For example, Susan Chandler, professor of social work, shared information regarding the newly formed university Veteran’s Coalition and all of the DHS participants attended the university meeting the following week. It was very exciting to observe the beginning of creating a culture that has the desire to and recognizes the need for combining and leveraging our strengths and interests.

News from Division of Health Sciences Units

New Online Drug Evaluation Resource Available Through Savitt Medical Library

A new online resource to support teaching and clinical practice, The Medical Letter, is now available at the Savitt Medical Library, according to Terry Henner, M.A., library director.

“This searchable database is an independent, peer-reviewed, nonprofit publication that offers unbiased critical evaluations of drugs, with special emphasis on new drugs. As their editor puts it, ‘We are clean. We do not accept grants, gifts, or donations. No one takes us to lunch, flies us anywhere, or plays golf with us.’”

Sanford Center for Aging Researchers Study Medicare Part D

The Sanford Center for Aging Medication Therapy Management (MTM) program, translated from research to a clinical service program in 2005, provides comprehensive medication reviews by certified geriatric pharmacists. The existing MTM program provides an opportunity for comparison and exploratory research on the Medicare Part D MTM process and provider reimbursement. This research is currently being conducted by Daniel Cook, Ph.D., associate professor, School of Community Health Sciences or Teresa Sacks, MPH, health research analyst with the Sanford Center for Aging.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 expanded the role of private insurance plans (enter Medicare Advantage) and created a voluntary prescription drug benefit referred to as Medicare Part D. In the state of Nevada, roughly 20 prescription drug plans (PDPs) exist for Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part D. A background investigation revealed that pharmacists face challenges in seeking MTM service reimbursement, experience high costs associated with providing labor-intensive reviews and acquiring new administrative capacity, and many pharmacists lack formal geriatric training and expertise required to provide MTM services.

Orvis School of Nursing has Highest Pass Rate in State

In 2008, 91.67 percent of the Orvis School of Nursing graduates, who took the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam for the first time, achieved passing scores. Passing the NCLEX-RN exam is required for those seeking a license to practice as registered nurses (RNs). It is developed by The National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

“This excellent pass rate not only shows the rigor of our undergraduate program in preparing our students to be RNs, but it also shows that our undergraduate program provides a strong foundation for our graduate programs,” said Patsy Ruchala, D.NSc., R.N., director of the Orvis School of Nursing. “We are proud that our graduates had the highest pass rate of any bachelor of science in nursing program in the state and that our pass rate was substantially higher than the national average of 86.7 percent.”

School of Medicine Students Active in Research Activities

On January 9, 2009, the Nevada Chapter of the American College of Physicians had its annual meeting in Las Vegas. At the scientific portion of the meeting, the School of Medicine had 22 poster presentations on research results in Internal Medicine. The efforts were spearheaded by residents at various levels of training with co-authorship by supervising faculty. The program directors of the residency, Beverly Parks M.D. and Sandye Wahi, M.D., were responsible for fostering an active scholarly orientation with their trainees.

Also, more than thirty oral presentations by graduate students and medical students summarized scholarly work with an emphasis on the basic sciences at the Annual Bierkamper Convocation held January 20, 2009.T his work occurred under the egis of all departments in both Las Vegas and Reno.

“While much of the material was highly specialized and technical that listeners from outside the field of study had a hard time understanding all aspects of the presented work, what was very obvious was the dedication to the academic ideal of critical scholarship in all participants,” said Ole Thienhaus M.D. MBA, dean and professor of psychiatry, School of Medicine. “What distinguishes medical school training is the fact that it is grounded in data-driven biomedical research. I am pleased to see that this guiding principle is alive and well among students, trainees and faculty of the University School of Medicine.”

CASAT Provide Conferences Services

The Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT) currently provides conference logistics and planning services for the Washington State Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA). This is the third year CASAT has provided these services for DASA’s annual conferences. These services include marketing and graphic design, online registration system and on-site staffing and event coordination. In 2008 CASAT coordinated four conferences in various locations throughout Washington State ranging in size from 350 to 750 registrants totaling over 1900 participants.

Each conference brings together professionals in the treatment, prevention and mental health fields to work to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addictions treatment and mental health services and provides opportunities for continuing education.

Get To Know

Campus Recreation and Wellness

Campus Recreation and Wellness (CRW) is a vibrant and successful part of the university campus with a history going back to 1927. CRW is made up of the following programmatic elements: intramural sports, group fitness, aquatics, outdoor recreation, informal recreation and the one credit basic instruction program or PEX. CRW is located in the Lombardi Recreation Building, adjacent to the new student union and boasts the following facilities: state of the art fitness facilities, swimming and diving pools, Pilates studio, martial arts room, dance rooms, indoor cycling room, rental shop, racquetball courts, basketball gymnasium and locker/shower facilities. CRW offers classes in everything from yoga and pilates to kayaking and kickboxing.

Under the direction of Steve Pomi, M.S., CRW is staffed by four full-time professionals, 25 LOA’s and approximately 75 student employees and operates year round from 6:00 to 11:00 pm and is open on most university holidays and during all breaks. CRW is operationally self supporting through the sale of memberships and programs to the UNR campus community. With participation rates exceeding 600,000 visits last year, the Lombardi Recreation Center is one of the busiest buildings on campus and has become somewhat of a social hub for students. In two separate campus wide research projects, 96% of responding students stated they had participated in CRW programs or utilized the facilities at some point in their college career. This is significant as participation in student recreation opportunities at universities is strongly linked to student performance, satisfaction, recruitment, retention and persistence in college as well as the obvious health benefits.

Upcoming Events

CPE Offers Evaluation Workshops

The Center for Program Evaluation (CPE) is presenting a brown bag information series, Making Evaluation Work for You: Enhancing Your Research and Programs through Evaluation, to increase awareness and understanding of evaluation throughout the community. The brown bag events are free and open to the public. Graduate students, program directors and staff, and university faculty are encouraged to attend. Please contact CPE with any questions or for further descriptions regarding the workshop series at (775) 784-4432.

Dates, topics and locations for the workshops are listed below:

  • March 5- Evaluation Basics: What is evaluation and why is it important?
    12-1 pm, Joe Crowley Student Union, Senate Chambers Room
  • April 7-Building Evaluation into your Grant Proposals
    12-1 pm, Joe Crowley Student Union, Senate Chambers Room
  • April 29-Using Your Evaluation Data from Start to Finish
    12-1 pm, Joe Crowley Student Union, Room

Changing Faces of Medicine Exhibit opens February 16

The Savitt Medical Library, University of Nevada School of Medicine, is bringing to Reno a National Library of Medicine traveling exhibit, Changing the Face of Medicine. Celebrating the accomplishments of America’s women physicians, the exhibit focuses on ways that women have influenced and enhanced the practice of medicine.

The exhibit, which opens at the Northwest Reno Public Library on February 16, will be accompanied by a five-week public lecture series featuring several faculty members from the School of Medicine. For more information contact: Terry Henner, M.A., library director, Savitt Medical Library, (775) 682-7301.

Complex and Developmental Trauma is Topic of Psychiatry Grand Round on February 18

Patricia Van Horn, J.D. Ph.D., associate clinical professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine University of California San Francisco will speak on “Complex Trauma and Developmental Trauma Disorder: A Proposed Diagnosis” on February 18 at 4:00 p.m. at the Pennington Medical Building, Room 16 in Reno. Parking permits will be available in Room 16 of the Pennington Bldg. at the time of the Grand Rounds. Designated parking will be in the Green zone at the back of the Pennington Bldg. The Grand Rounds can be seen via Pic-Tel in Las Vegas at the UNSOM Patient Care Center, 1707 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 210B. Call (775) 682-8459 with any questions. Division of Health Sciences faculty are invited. This program is co-sponsored by the School of Medicine, School of Social Work and Washoe County Department of Social Services. CME’s and CEU’s are available. Also on Feb.18, Dr. Van Horn will be speaking at on “Trauma and Mental Health Issues of Young Children in Foster Care” at the Mills Lane Justice Center, 1 South Sierra Street, DA Conference Room. All are welcome. Social Work CEUs have been applied for and will be offered free of charge.

Grant writing Workshop Set for Feb. 27

Nevada INBRE has arranged for a full-day grant writing workshop on Feb. 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Room 16 of the Pennington Education Building in Reno and the Cooperative Extension Lifelong Learning Center in Las Vegas. The workshop will emphasis both conceptual and practical aspects and address idea development, writing for reviewers and tips and strategies.

Presenter M.S. Atkisson, Ph.D., established the grant writing and grantsmanship program at Tufts University last year. Fees are $50 before Jan. 30 or $80 after Jan. 30. Registration deadline is Feb. 13 and can be completed online or by calling (775) 784-6544.

Diversity in Medicine Art Exhibit Opens at Savitt Library

The School of Medicine observes its 10th Annual Diversity in Medicine Art exhibit in February at the Savitt Medical Library. For the first time, this year's exhibit will be feature works of art from the entire Division of Health Sciences. Drop by during library hours to see the diversity of talent, creativity and experiences among faculty, staff and students. The exhibit runs the entire month of February.

Join the University Veterans Coalition

If you are a veteran or someone interested in veterans and their families, consider joining the University Veterans Coalition. The UVC originated in the School of Social Work and to date has had three very energetic meetings that brought together university and community veterans as well as faculty, researchers, and program administrators. The next meeting will be February 19, 2009 at the Joe Crowley Student Union, Room 356 (Senate Chambers), 8-9 am—Coffee Hour, 9- 10 am- Program which includes viewing of “Warrior to Warrior,” a documentary by Iraq War veteran Joshua James Frey about how Vietnam and Iraq War veterans with PTSD are reaching out to each other. A discussion will follow led by Josh Frey and Greg Montalvo, president of the Northern Nevada Vietnam Veterans of America. For more information contact Susan Chandler, (775) 682-8718.

CASAT Sponsors Conference on Prevention and Treatment in May

The Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT), at the University of Nevada, Reno is working with Nevada Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (NAMFT)_in co-sponsoring the Spring Academy: Prevention and Treatment Exchange conference. The Spring Academy will be held in Reno, Nevada at the Grand Sierra Resort from May 18-20, 2009 and will offer specialized workshops in Motivational Interviewing, Clinical Supervision, SAPST (Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Training), and Prevention Ethics to professionals working in addiction treatment, prevention, and marriage and family therapy.

These specialized workshops will enable participants to gain in-depth knowledge of the application leading to adoption of and adherence to the evidence-based practice. For more information and registration, visit the CASAT website or call (775) 784-6265.

Ground Rounds in Geriatrics Available at V.A. Hospital

The University of Nevada School of Medicine, along with the Stanford School of Medicine and the VA Health Care System are presenting a series of grand round lectures that are open to all Division of Health Sciences faculty. All lectures are at 12 noon in VA Bldg. 377 GRECC Conference Room and available through v-tel:

  • February 17- “Renal Cell Carcinoma Visiting Professor Clinical Roundtable”- W. Kimryn Rathmell
  • March 10- “Non Small Cell Lung Cancer”- Howard (Jack) West
  • April 7- “ACS STRIVE Grand Rounds 2009- STEMI”- Elliot Rapaport

Our People

Loomis Selected as Editor for Journal

Dana Loomis, Ph.D., director, School of Community Health Sciences and professor of environmental and occupational health, has been named Editor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM), a journal published by the British Medication Association. Through his contributions as associate editor over the past five years, he has earned the respect of international colleagues, as well as the principals in the publishing company. In his new role, he will be able to make even more contributions to the journal and the field of occupational and environmental health.

Social Work Professor Recipient of National Teaching Award

Karen Kopera-Frye, Ph.D., associate professor, School of Social Work and co-chair of the Interdisciplinary Gerontology Curriculum Committee, was selected to receive a national teaching award for her instruction in gerontology classes. The Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), the Gerontological Society of America’s educational unit, selected Dr. Kopera-Frye to receive this award which will be presented at the annual AGHE conference in San Antonio, TX at the end of February. The Gerontological Society of America is the largest international professional and scientific gerontological organization made up of professionals from all disciplines.

Swager Named Fellow by AGHE

Patti Swager, M.Ed., director, Nevada Geriatrics Center, School of Medicine, has been selected as a Fellow of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). Being an AGHE Fellow is an honor that recognizes outstanding leadership in gerontology / geriatric education. Ms. Swager has 17 years experience in the field of aging and is being honored based on her teaching and leadership in the field of aging and her service to the association. The new AGHE fellows will be announced at the upcoming annual meeting on February 26, 2009 that is scheduled in San Antonio, Texas.

Grants, Publications and Research Activities

Jeanne Hilton, Ph.D., CFLE, professor, and Karen Kopera-Frye, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Social Work, have co-authored an article that was published in the January issue of Family Journal. Their research focuses on "Successful Aging from the Perspective of Family Caregivers."

Miriam Bar-on, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education and professor of pediatrics, School of Medicine, and Latha Chandran, M.D., MPH, Maryellen Gusic, M.D., Constance Baldwin, Ph.D., Teri Turner, M.D., MPH, MEd, Elisa Zenni, M.D., J. Lindsey Lane, BM, BCh,Dorene Balmer, Ph.D., Daniel A. Rauch, M.D., Diane Indyk, DO,and Larry D. Gruppen were recently published in Academic Medicine, Vol. 84, No. 1 / January 2009 for their research “Evaluating the Performance of Medical Educators: A Novel Analysis Tool to Demonstrate the Quality and Impact of Educational Activities.”

Marin Gillis, LPh, Ph.D., director of Medical Humanities and Ethics and Melissa Piasecki, M.D., associate dean for faculty affairs and development, School of Medicine have been accepted to present a paper entitled, “Developing a Case-Based Program Addressing Errors in Reasoning in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,” at the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry, in San Francisco May 16-17.

Student News

School of Medicine Students Matched

Two members of the University of Nevada School of Medicine Class of 2009 have been successfully matched in ophthalmology residency programs.

Kyle Klingler, MSIV, will serve his residency at the Mayo Clinic and Tyson Ward, MSIV, at the University of South Carolina.

Nevada Women’s Fund 2009 Scholarship Applications Now Available

The Nevada Women’s Fund is now accepting scholarship applications from women between the ages 18-65 who are pursuing a higher education degree. Scholarships are awarded for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Scholarship applications are available online. Deadline for applications is March 27, 2009 and decisions are made in June.


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