Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

October 2008

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

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

Three months have elapsed since our 10 academic programs and centers joined into the new Division of Health Sciences. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to our initial success by, as President Glick puts it, “suspending disbelief” and being so welcoming and inclusive to our new colleagues. And what a three months it has been! The fragile network of global finance is threatened by the bursting housing bubble. Nevada, our economic base highly concentrated in vulnerable areas, is feeling the worst of it. A hotly contested presidential and local election is coming shortly, followed by the Nevada state legislative session. Of course, the university is not immune from this downturn, and I will have more to say about our response below and the potential impact on students, staff and faculty. Although there may be a break-through in how our fast growing state manages to sustain education along with meeting our other pressing societal needs, it would be imprudent of the university to not plan for cuts in our state budget.

Despite these distractions, we are off to a sound start thanks to collective hard work and dedication. It has been a real eye opener to see firsthand the passion for teaching, research and scholarship in our faculty and leadership. The division is also supported by an excellent administrative group, including Richelle O’Driscoll, director for internal and external affairs; Renee Warren, fiscal officer; Jessica Younger, executive assistant; and Sandra Pilgrim, administrative assistant in the division office. We held our first division-wide assembly with a great turnout by faculty. Regent Dorothy Gallagher, the chairperson of the Health Sciences Committee of the Regents and a strong advocate for the health sciences attended, as did Provost Marc Johnson. The assembly offered an opportunity to learn more about our diverse programs and missions and sparked a number of ongoing discussions about mutual interest and collaborations. The new Health Sciences Education Building project is on schedule. Medicine and nursing have collaborated to create a design that will enable both schools to double their enrollment and train together in a state-of-the-art educational building.

Student enrollment is up this year, and the division has the second largest group of declared majors. Collaboration is key to the success of the Division of Health Sciences. Already a team of faculty from the Sanford Center for Aging, Gerontology Academic Program, CASAT, Social Work, Nursing and Medicine have worked together to explore and craft a response to a national funding opportunity from the Reno VA hospital. James Kenyon, the principal investigator of the state-wide INBRE grant to build biomedical research infrastructure in the state joined division chairs and directors and updated us on funding opportunities for community-based translational research activities. The INBRE grant is due for competitive renewal in 2009, presenting an opportunity for divisional collaboration and extramural funding. The School of Medicine and Orvis School of Nursing have recently partnered to bring in an expert to conduct faculty workshops on “Team Based Learning.”

Core committees for the division’s academic work, including the Promotion and Tenure Committee, Policy Advisory and Bylaws Committee and Course and Curriculum Committee have been reconstituted and begun their work. I want to thank the faculty who volunteered their time and effort on these tasks. I met with Amanda Kesjaral and Priscilla Acosta, DHS student senators, this week to discuss the division and issues concerning them. Conversation turned to the budget and possible cuts in student programs. I assured them that, as President Glick and Provost Johnson have directed, we will strive to preserve the core academic programs while cutting administrative overhead. We are also reviewing centers and other areas to determine their contribution to the academic mission of the division and university. We must do everything we can to recruit the best students and allow them to graduate in four years, including maximizing teaching efficiency and classroom use. This, after all, is our principal mission. Simultaneously, it is critical to maintain strong scholarship and research by protecting time and creating a strong infrastructure for research and scholarly activities. Toward this end, Richelle O’Driscoll has met with division leadership to gain their insights as to how the division and university can best support the faculty.

We are fortunate to have many strengths: dedicated and skilled faculty, supportive leadership, a mission driven by compelling societal need, strong community support for the skills and caring that a health sciences education provides, and the ability to create the population based data necessary to make informed decisions during tough financial times. But we also have threats: dependence on the state and undergraduate enrollment for fiscal support in the majority of our units; low numbers of faculty, so that the loss of one or two individuals may leave gaps in the curriculum; lack of dedicated contiguous space housing the division; a small alumni base; centralized control of faculty lines and budget which limits the ability of chairs and directors to plan; and of course scant resources. The Marines have a response for this: improvise, adapt and overcome. This is good guidance in such times. We must be flexible and adaptable to meet the current fiscal challenge, and find alternative resources to accomplish our mission.

Everyone wants to know how we plan to meet the projected budget shortfall, recognizing there is uncertainty about the final amount. President Glick has indicated on numerous occasions that we will preserve our core academic mission of providing a quality education to our students. Several steps are being taken to accomplish this. With the Provost’s guidance, we are reviewing our faculty’s teaching loads to ensure that we are maximizing their student contact. Classes are being assessed to determine if classes serving few students can be scheduled less frequently to increase the number of students; minimizing the hiring of part-time faculty to teach and ensuring that full-time faculty are engaged in teaching, scholarship or research. Vacant faculty positions created by early retirement will not be refilled for several years. All positions that are now vacant will be reallocated to central administration and filled on the basis of university and division need. We will review the curriculum to ensure that students are able to enroll in required courses, and removing courses with little academic impact.

Ultimately, cuts will be unavoidable if the budget projections are accurate and we have no reason to believe they are not. But they will not be across the board. All centers within the university are being reviewed to determine their impact on the core mission. We are also engaged in an inventory of faculty and programs involved in geriatrics and gerontology education, research and outreach, not just within our division but across the university to determine how best to maximize our resources to have maximal impact. Provost Johnson has initiated a similar effort to review ethics programs and interest across the university. As the division has major programs in both areas we will remain engaged and active in these discussions. Finally, as noted, we hope to grow non-state support through philanthropy, grants and contracts.

Of course, we all have a stake in what the division looks like after its first year. We are moving to decentralize leadership, allowing each center and academic unit to develop its own goals and appropriate budget. Every division leader will have access to transparent financial data and other metrics to help guide their efforts and benchmark their results. Once agreement around a shared mission and vision for the division is reached, I believe the division administration should function to ensure compliance with university and other policies, inform faculty and students, but primarily to facilitate and support our mission. Deans and directors and their faculty will be empowered to take responsibility for the operation of their academic units. Where division administration can help, for example in centralizing administrative tasks common to all units such as student advisement and fiscal oversight, we will. If expertise is needed with grant application or post award support, we will identify a means to do this. Communication, both intramural and extramural is another appropriate task we can assume.

Finally, we must strive to develop a student body and faculty that is representative of the population we serve. In no other area are the benefits of cultural diversity as evident as in the health sciences. I will ask each division leader, faculty and students to implement existing plans, or if none exist, develop a plan to improve the diversity of our student body and faculty. Students must be involved in helping us understand their needs as we move forward. I welcome the extraordinary opportunity we have been given to contribute to the health of Nevada and its citizens and look forward to working with all of you. If any of you have thoughts or concerns to share with me, please contact me either at jam@unr.edu, or at (775) 682-7494.

News from Division of Health Sciences Units

NCEHP Holds Nevada Ethics Summit in Las Vegas

The Nevada Center for Ethics and Health Policy (NCEHP) sponsored the Nevada Health Care Ethics Summit entitled, Fostering Public Trust through Education and Practice on Sept. 18 at UNLV. Topics included whistle-blowing, professional misconduct and ethical decision-making. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto was the keynote speaker.

“We wanted to promote ‘preventive ethics’ rather than merely focusing on the problems associated with the hepatitis outbreak, indentured doctors, budget shortfall and lack of providers,” said Sally Hardwick, NCEHP project coordinator. “In the future, we hope to offer more workshops regarding hospital bioethics committees, continuing education in applied ethics, rural and cultural issues, organizational ethics, and health policy.”

The summit brought together various health care providers, educators, and state agencies to discuss how we can be proactive in promoting ethical practice. Attendees came from across the state and included representatives from the Nevada State Medical Association, State Division of Health Board of Licensure and Certification, Division of Health Sciences, NSHE-HHS, UNR and UNLV Schools of Nursing, the School of Medicine School of Dentistry, AHEC, Nevada Cancer Institute and others.

Remembering Former School of Medicine Dean Dr. Thomas J. Scully, M.D.

Ole J. Thienhaus, M.D., MBA, dean of the School of Medicine announced the passing of Thomas J. Scully, M.D., the second dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine who died on Sept. 16, 2008, at the age of 75. “All of us who learned from him and worked by his side will go on mourning his loss. His legacy to our mission of education is suitably enshrined in the Preceptor Carissimus award we give out to distinguished faculty every year,” Thienhaus said.

Division of Health Sciences Student Center Expands

The Student Center for the Division of Health Sciences is located on the second floor of the Sarah Fleischmann Building and houses a “quiet study” student computer lab with 14 computers, a small conference/study area with five computers and access to a larger study center that students can utilize when not in use for meetings or class sessions.

Coordinator/advisor Laurie Beck and her assistant Jen Laslo have also expanded their services to not only advise pre-nursing and pre-social work students but also all health ecology majors/minors and will assist speech pathology and audiology students with regard to core curriculum requirements. Two new student workers, Cindy Tejada, pre-nursing major and Marquez Eagles, pre-social work major, will be assisting the staff in a variety of administrative functions necessary to provide excellent student service and advisement to our undergraduate students.

College and Career Fairs Scheduled for Fall

In an effort encourage and recruit students for health related professions, the Division of Health Sciences and the School of Medicine, Center for Education and Health Services Outreach will be participating in several college and career fairs in November. These fairs will be held in various rural Nevada towns as well as “Operation Health Care Bound,” Oct. 12 at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center. Contact Andrea Gibbins, andrea@highsierraahec.org, Center Coordinator, High Sierra Area Health Education Center, for a complete schedule of events.

Upcoming Events

Dr. John Marschall to Address 15th Annual History of Medicine Dinner

The History of Medicine Program at the School of Medicine will hold its annual dinner and lecture on Nov. 24 at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino. Dr. John Marschall will talk on Jews in Nevada with emphasis on Jewish doctors. The talk will include information about Dr. Henry Bergstein, one of the most important 19th century Nevada physicians. Dr. Marschall will also sign his new book, “Jews in Nevada”, which will be available for purchase at the dinner. Marschall is a well-known author and is professor emeritus in UNR’s history department. Also available will be recent book about Dr. George Kober, who practiced at Fort McDermitt and Fort Bidwell before becoming a prominent dean of Georgetown’s School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. The dinner and talk is open to the public. Tickets are $35 and reservations can be made by calling Lynda McLellan in the Department of Pathology at (775) 784-4068.

DHS Alumni and Supporters to be Honored at Homecoming Gala

The Nevada Alumni Association will honor alumni and supporters of the Division of Health Sciences at the 2008 Homecoming Gala on Oct. 15 at the Joe Crowley Student Union beginning at 6 pm.

Alumni being honored include Janice Brady, BS Nursing ’63, MBA ’88 who will receive the University Service award and Dr. Michael Patmas, BS Biology ’75, MS Biology ’77, MD ’81 who will accept the Professional Achievement Award. Also, the School of Medicine and Department of Microbiology and Immunology partner, Annette Whittemore,’74 BS Elementary Ed/Special Education, will be honored as Alumna of the Year and Ted Nigro, long time friend and supporter of the schools of medicine and nursing will receive an award for University Service.

Tickets and tables are available for purchase. Tickets are $70 and tables of 8 are $560. Please contact Hope at (775) 784-6620 to RSVP

Simultaneous Virtual and Live Ethics Discussion Series Offered by NCEHP

The Nevada Center for Ethics and Health Policy (NCEHP) and Health Care Ethics Program (HCE) became the first UNR group to hold a simultaneous live and virtual discussion in Second Life on Friday, Sept. 5, Second Life is a virtual world platform in use by other educational institutes such as Harvard, Princeton and Stanford. Animal research was the topic of the first discussion, part of Ethics Bytes, a new monthly ethics discussion series.

The 15 member discussion group took place in a virtual coffee shop with online students simultaneously chatting with a live discussion group in the @One at the Mathewson –IGT Knowledge Center.

The discussion was led by the Dr. ElizaBeth Beyer, assistant professor and chair of HCE, and included special guest, Dr. Richard Simmonds, former director of laboratory animal medicine and professor of physiology, emeritus.

“We were so excited to bring the two audiences together. It adds a whole new dimension to student engagement,” remarked Ginger Fenwick, HCE’s Academic Advisor. Her avatar, dressed as a grey wolf for the discussion, made sure those online could hear the various speakers and were given the opportunity to ask questions.

The October discussion was on the Ethics of Burning Man with Dr. Lee Gilmore, editor of “AfterBurn: Reflections on Burning Man,” located in Chico, Calif. as guest speaker who appeared at the discussion through her avatar.

For further information on upcoming Ethics Bytes, contact (775) 327-2308.

Literature and Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare Offered at Renown

All DHS faculty, clinicians and hospital staff are invited to attend a unique collaborative continuing education opportunity, part of the “Literature and Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthare®” which was developed by Maine Humanities Council and sponsored by the University of Nevada School of Medicine, UNR English Department and Nevada Humanities Council. Facilitated by Dr. Susan Palwick, UNR department of English, the group encourages participants to connect the worlds of science and lived experience, giving them the opportunity to reflect on their professional roles and relationships through plays, short stories, poetry, fiction and personal narratives in a setting where they can share their reflections with colleagues. The Renown Literature and Medicine Group meets on the second Tuesday of each month, 6-8 pm, in Room 107 (behind Remedees). A light dinner is served. Contact Karissa Loper kloper@med.unr.edu for the syllabus and to RSVP.

Preview Sessions for Prospective Medical Students

The University of Nevada School of Medicine is offering two preview sessions for undergraduate college students considering applying to medical school.

The first orientation is planned for Tuesday, Oct. 7 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Reno at the School of Medicine’s Pennington Medical Education Building, Room 16. The second session will be held Tuesday, Oct. 21 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the UNLV Student Union, Room 208B, in Las Vegas.

Our People

  • Marin Gillis, LPh, Ph.D., School of Medicine, has been appointed as a faculty associate in the Women’s Studies Program.
  • Kenneth Hunter, Ph.D., has accepted the offer to lead the Department of Microbiology as interim chair after Bill Murphy, Ph.D. steps down Nov. 1.
  • Jodi Shpargel joined the School of Medicine as assistant to Peggy Dupey, Ph.D. on Oct. 1.
  • Andrea L. Gibbins has been named as Center Coordinator for High Sierra Area Health Education Center (AHEC).
  • Patsy Ruchala, DNSc.,RN, director of the Orvis School of Nursing, was recently appointed to the Nevada State Board of Nursing NSBN Education Advisory Committee and to the 2008 Association of Women's Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN) Research Advisory Panel.
  • Salli Vannucci, MSN, RN, associate professor, Orvis School of Nursing, has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Nevada Diabetes Association for Children and Adults.
  • Doreen Begley, M.S., RN, administrator, Orvis Nursing Clinic, was elected vice president of the Nevada State Board of Nursing.

Grants, Publications and Research Activities

Marin Gillis, Ph.D., School of Medicine, was named PI for a Nevada Humanities Project Grant of $3,000 for Literature and Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare®

School of Medicine faculty members Cheryl Hug-English, M.D., Melissa Piasecki, M.D., Peggy Dupey, Ph.D. and Marin Gillis, Ph.D. will be presenting a workshop session, “Finding the ‘Write’ Words: Documenting Student Professionalism at the American Association of Medical Colleges meeting in San Antonio, Texas in November.

Alice Running, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing, received the first NIH funded research grant in the OSN. She has been funded for a 3-year period for over $210,000 by the NIH-NCCAM (National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine) as the Principal Investigator on the grant for the “Energy Biofield Therapy” work she has been doing with Bill Murphy from the School of Medicine for the past couple of years.

Stacie M. Spencer and Marin Gillis, Ph.D., School of Medicine recently published “A Process Approach to Critical Thinking about Complex Concepts” in Teaching Critical Thinking in Psychology: A Handbook of Best Practices.

Wei-Chen Tung, Ph.D. RN, assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing, has been funded with a UNR Junior Faculty Research Grant for her research project “Condom Use Among Chinese College Students in the USA and China: A Transtheoretical Approach.” This is the second year in a row that an OSN faculty has received a UNR Junior Faculty Research Grant!

Salli Vannucci, MSN,RN, associate professor, Orvis School of Nursing published her first peer-reviewed publication in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. The title of her article is “The Significance of Nursing Education on the Impact of Horizontal Violence.”

Michele Pelter, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing was recently published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, for her work entitled “Effective Strategies for Implementing a Multicenter International Clinical Trial.”

Christine Aramburu Alegria, Ph.D., APRN, assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing, has had abstracts accepted to present at the International Association for Relationship Research on "Relationship Maintenance Activities in Identity Renegotiation: An Examination of Male-to-Female Transsexual and Natal Female Couples” and at The Transcultural Nursing Society meeting on “Relationships and Identity: Joys and Challenges in MTF-NF Couples.”

Kate Sheppard, Ph.D., RN, APN., assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing, has been accepted for a podium presentation at the Transcultural Nursing Society and at the State of the Science Congress in Nursing Research in Washington D.C. this month. She was also the recent recipient of the “Outstanding Poster” Award at the Western Institute for Nursing.

Student News

OSN Nurses Run in RGJ Journal Jog

Whitney Mentaberry, Class of 2008 and President of the Orvis Student Nurses Association, took first place in her age division in the Annual RGJ Journal Jog in September. She was part of group of students and faculty, led by Lorraine Bonaldi-Moore, MSN, MBA, RN, assistant professor at the Orvis School of Nursing, who participated in this event for the second year.

Helping Out at Girl Scout Nursing Day

Orvis School of Nursing students Tara Haddan, Staci Sullivan, Paul Dente, Lacy Siebert, A.J. Scoble, Kaitlin Steverman, Robyn Stillman and Olivia Wildschut and faculty members Jennifer Richards and Doreen Begley participated in the Girl Scout Nursing Day for the Sierra Nevada Chapter of Girl Scouts of America earlier this year. More than 150 people attended this event which included informational booths on surgery, using rehabilitation equipment, lung inflation techniques as well as writing out positive affirmations and sending postcards to military nurses overseas.


Copyright © 2008 Health Sciences.