Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

October 2009

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

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

The annual University of Nevada, Reno Foundation Banquet was held on Sept. 24. This celebration of the 40th anniversary of the University of Nevada School of Medicine was a smashing success. The event broke a University record for attendees–over 950, maximum occupancy at the Nugget, and the service, food and company were excellent. University President Milt Glick announced that the University had successfully secured all of the $14 million in private funding required to construct the William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building. The William N. Pennington Foundation provided a lead gift of $10 million, the Redfield Foundation, $2.5 million, and the Hart Foundation $1 million. Construction should start in November or December, with completion by the fall semester of 2011.

Our speaker, Atul Gawande, M.D., MPH, a practicing surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, coincidentally the same Harvard teaching hospital where I trained in internal medicine, was selected for his reputation as a thoughtful and skilled communicator, physician, and health policy expert. Explaining the complexity of delivering health care from a humanistic perspective, he introduced the audience to the decisions that physicians and patients must make under difficult circumstances. Dr. Gawande began by relating the story of an elderly patient who chooses to forego a potentially life-saving operation to retain her independence.

Dr. Gawande then turned his attention to a central issue–how to improve health care outcomes. Drawing on his experience leading a World Health Organization study of minimizing risk in elective surgery, Dr. Gawande shared with us the simple steps that reduce complications from 11 to 7 percent and mortality from 1.5 to 0.8 percent. These were measures that could be applied in any first world setting (New England Journal of Medicine 360:491-499, 2009). Put another way, a simple, low-tech, systems approach to health care can reap extraordinary benefits.

He then shared his explorations of what is necessary for the very best care. Drawing on cystic fibrosis as an exemplar of a disease with well developed patient care protocols and outcomes, he compared two academic centers: The Children’s Hospital at the University of Cincinnati, and the Cystic Fibrosis Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Both are premier institutions, but the clinical outcomes at Cincinnati are in the middle of the pack of the more than 115 centers accredited by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, while the University of Wisconsin’s are the best. The answer appears to be increases in quality at the margin–going from 99 percent success to 99.9. The compelling story of one patient emphasized the importance of disciplined review of results, tight team work, a system approach based on data, and careful attention to psychosocial factors impacting patient care. Interestingly, one factor that he, like most experts, believe is clearly not related to quality outcomes is cost, as I discussed in last month’s newsletter.

Dr. Gawande was generous in his concluding remarks, stating that training physicians and nurses together in the new William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building will provide an excellent model for team training, and praising the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center and the new Davidson Math and Science Building.

Other events in the week included a reunion of the founding class of the medical school, an alumni reunion that featured the alumna of the year, Susan Desmond-Hellman, M.D., newly appointed chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, and a well-received continuing education event sponsored by the School of Medicine.

I would like to express my appreciation to all those who made this week one to remember, in particular Stefanie Scoppettone, Christina Sarman and Rebecca Rumbaugh, our development and alumni relations team. They performed admirably in re-establishing old links and forging new ones with friends of medicine and health sciences over the past several years, and the results speak for themselves. Anne McMillin in communications was everywhere recording and photographing. Jeanne Corbit and her colleagues in development and alumni relations managed the complex event with aplomb and grace.

View the 28th Annual Foundation Banquet Video

A video featuring recent developments on the University of Nevada, Reno campus made its debut at the 28th Annual Foundation Banquet on Sept. 24. The video highlights the philanthropy of Nevadan William N. Pennington and the construction of the William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building, Center for Molecular Medicine, Whittemore Peterson Institute, Davidson Mathematics and Science Center and Nell J. Redfield Auditorium.

News from Division of Health Sciences Units

Collaborative “Sim Center” Opens in Las Vegas

A collaborative effort between several institutions in the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) has come to fruition this fall with the opening of the Clinical Simulation Center, Las Vegas, or “sim center.” The center officially opened on Aug. 24 with its first learners in attendance. The simulation center was designed in a collaborative effort with representatives from all three schools and the NSHE Health Sciences System in an effort to meet the common and unique needs of all three programs. The center has dedicated space for standardized patient rooms, surgical skills and simulation lab, clinical skills labs used for procedural training, a 12-person hospital ward, five rooms for high-fidelity simulation accompanied by debriefing rooms, three 25-person classrooms, an 80-person lecture hall, faculty administrative space, a lounge, study rooms and storage.

The University of Nevada School of Medicine, UNLV School of Nursing and Nevada State College School of Nursing, now share the 31,000-square-foot facility located in Building B on the Shadow Lane campus, directly adjacent to University Medical Center. Learners training at this center will develop critical skills prior to working with patients, enhancing patient safety. Joint training of physicians and nurses allows them to become familiar with each other’s complementary skills and strengths while learning to work in teams for the benefit of the patient.

Freshman Recruitment Nets Increase in DHS Enrollments

The Division of Health Sciences Student Center staff would like to thank everyone who assisted with freshman recruitment efforts during the last year. These efforts resulted in one of the best yields of admitted to attending students at the University.

“We had an increase of 23 more students from last fall, with a total of 357 freshman applications for admission to UNR into one of the Division of Health Sciences majors,” according to Laurie Beck, coordinator, advisement, recruitment and retention. “We also have 195 of those students attending this semester for a yield rate of more than 54 percent. This is one of the highest yield rates on campus for the fall '09 freshman class.”

Recruiting season for the incoming fall 2010 freshman class has started with the goal of surpassing our latest success. The student center staff will be contacting each unit to participate in events including the Nevada Bound program, new student orientation and UNR fall previews.

Mojave Adult, Child, and Family Services Serves Clients With Metabolic Syndrome Clinic

In Feb. 2008, Thomas Hunt, M.D. and Phyllis Suiter, L.N.P., collaborated with the staff of Mojave Adult, Child, and Family Services to open a metabolic syndrome clinic at their East Charleston Boulevard site. Initially meeting half a day a month, the clinic served 35 patients its first year. In July 2009, the clinic doubled its hours, and Kate Martin, M.D., joined the staff. The metabolic clinic currently has more than 50 patients and continues to receive referrals.

This may not seem like many patients, but according to Coni Kalinowski, M.D., medical director at Mojave, these are the patients who are at the highest risk for complications of metabolic syndrome. Patients were referred to the metabolic syndrome clinic specifically because they were not benefitting from the usual outpatient medical treatment and continued to have poorly controlled diabetes, lipids or blood pressure. Preliminary outcomes in Feb. 2009 suggested that, after a year of treatment, patients on average showed an improvement in six of eight risk factors for metabolic syndrome, while peers in usual treatment showed improvement in three.

The key to the success of the clinic appears to be close coordination of care. At Mojave, this essential coordination function is provided by individuals’ case managers and the clinic’s nurse-coordinator, Wendy Agarwal. Case management services are the core of Mojave’s programs. They provide coordination of multiple services for consumers whose disabilities prevent them from doing this for themselves. Clients of the clinic often need help to schedule multiple medical tests, obtain medical consultations, fill prescriptions, and arrange transportation and follow-up appointments. The case manager assists them to coordinate these services and ensures that records are returned to the clinic for review by medical staff. Mojave’s community-based intensive model of case management is indispensable to the clinic’s holistic approach to improving the quality and effectiveness of medical care, and the location of the clinic in the mental health center, allowing individuals to do one-stop shopping, also seems to promote participation in treatment.

Mojave Adult, Child, and Family Services, a University of Nevada School of Medicine affiliated mental health center providing wrap-around services to about 3,000 individuals having serious and persistent psychiatric concerns, had also documented increasing morbidity and mortality due to metabolic syndrome among their consumers. Because Mojave is a part of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the School of Medicine, they saw a unique opportunity to address their clients’ needs. Mojave hopes to be able to expand the metabolic syndrome clinic and continue to cement individuals’ mental health services and medical care.

“We know we can help people to recover from psychiatric disability using psychosocial treatments, supports, and medications,” said Michael Howie, director of Mojave, “but we also need to ensure that individuals do not die prematurely or become physically disabled due to the complications from the very medicines that assist in their recovery. The only responsible course of action is to intertwine primary medical care with psychiatric services across treatment settings. We only hope that our small model will become the standard of care in the near future.”

Support High Sierra Area Health Education Center

Support High Sierra Area Health Education Center by participating with your reusable bag donations through Whole Foods markets throughout the Reno area now through Jan. 17, 2010. High Sierra Area Health Education Center was chosen as one of the featured non-profit organizations for Whole Foods’ Nickels for Non-Profits campaign. Whole Foods customers are invited to donate the nickel they save by using a reusable bag at the checkout counter to the education center. Donations will be collected through Jan. 17.

Upcoming Events

Orvis Nursing Students, Faculty to Help at Family Flu Shot Day

Staff and students from the Orvis School of Nursing will help dispense 3,500 doses of free flu shots on Oct. 17 which are provided by the Washoe District Health Department. With local Rotary Clubs providing volunteers to help, the Rotary Family Flu Shot Day will be held from 9am to 1pm at a walk-in clinic at Billinghurst Middle School at 6685 Chesterfield Lane, and at a drive-thru clinic at the County Roads Division grounds at 3101 Longley Lane.

The shots are for those six months and older on a first-come, first-served basis. The vaccinations are for the seasonal flu and not for the H1N1 (swine) flu. For details, call (775) 325-8140.

The clinics are part of an annual exercise to test the department's capability to immunize a large number of people in a short time.

“Walk Your Talk” Tuesdays

The Division of Health Sciences is about learning and working together to improve health and wellness. Staying true to this mission we have created a new year-long wellness program for faculty and staff, “Walk Your Talk Tuesdays.” Each month you are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities, from informational and educational presentations, fitness, nutrition and stress reduction classes and utilizing the resources we have available at the university. Plus, it is a great way to meet and network with other health sciences division colleagues and do something positive for you.

Maintaining Your Health During Times of Stress

Oct. 20, 11:30am to 12:30pm
Sarah Fleischmann Building, Sandra Neese Room (Participants can bring their lunch)

This presentation will focus on how people can use behavioral strategies to promote health and wellness during times of stress and discuss the impact of stress on physical and psychological health (including diet and exercise regimens). You will learn to identify and respond differently to sources of stress in their everyday life. Presented by Victoria Mercer, clinical psychology graduate student at the Center for Nutrition and Metabolism, University of Nevada School of Medicine.

Get To Know Lombardi Recreation Center

Oct. 22

  • 9am: Cross-Fit Introduction
  • 10am: Yoga Flow
  • 11am: Cycle Fusion

Spend the morning with Johnny B. and enjoy some free drop-in classes specifically for health sciences division faculty, staff and affiliates. Space is limited, reserve your spot by calling (775) 784-1379.

Division of Health Sciences Grand Rounds Event, Oct. 21

Thuy Boardman, Ph.D., M.P.H., coordinator of the post-traumatic stress disorder clinical team at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, will present “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and PTSD” on Oct. 21, 4-5:30pm.

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend the series of grand rounds presentations that have been planned and co-sponsored with the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine. These events take place on the third Wednesday of every month from 4-5:30pm in Room 16 of the Pennington Medical Education Building, as well as, pictel in the dean's conference room of the 2040 Building in Las Vegas.

Continuing medical education credits are available. Parking permits are available in Room 16 of the Pennington Building at the time of the grand rounds. Parking is available in the parking lot behind the Pennington Building. For more information call (775) 682-8459.

University Social Work Diversity Committee Presentation, Oct. 21

“The Power of Story Telling: An Indigenous Journey” will be the topic for a brown bag presentation by Eric Albers, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Social Work. Albers travels extensively throughout the Pacific Rim and the U.S. as an evaluator for substance abuse programs through University's Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies. He will share his experience working alongside indigenous people, including Alaska Natives, Eskimos, Native Americans, Black Feet, Native Hawaiians and Micronesians, and discuss the commonalities among these cultures. He will share the powerful lessons he has learned on his journey. The event will be held at Pennington Medical Education Building, Room 16 from noon-1:30pm. Faculty, students and staff are encouraged to attend.

Medication Management for Aging To Be Presented to Rural Sites

The Nevada Geriatric Education Center’s "Health Literacy Faculty Training Series: Medication Management, Health Literacy and Aging" will be presented to various rural sites via interactive video on Thurs., Oct. 22 from 12-1pm.

The program is free and one continuing education unit for nurses, physicians, long-term care administrators, marriage/family therapists, and speech pathologists is available. The program was submitted to the State of Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers for 1.0 hours of continuing education. The presenter is Daniel Cook, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Community Health Sciences. For information, contact Allan Froman at (702) 257-5594.

Save the Date: Women in Health Sciences Workshops, Dec. 7 in Reno, Dec. 8 in Las Vegas

Faculty and students are invited to attend the first “Women in Health Sciences” professional development event. The program will be held in Reno on Dec. 7 and Las Vegas on Dec. 8 and features workshops and presentations from 8am-1pm, including guest speaker Elizabeth Travis, Ph.D. speaking on “Achieving Work-Life Balance.” Box lunches are provided. RSVP at (775) 784-6777.

The event is co-sponsored by the University of Nevada School of Medicine Office of Faculty Affairs and Development, Division of Health Sciences, Orvis School of Nursing, UNLV School of Dental Medicine and UNLV School of Nursing.

Our People


Jemila Fairley, Au.D., clinical and cochlear implant audiologist at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, was elected to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Audiology Advisory Council. Her three-year term begins on Jan. 1. As a council member, she help identify and discuss issues of concern with members and provide information on these issues to the association's board of directors, as well as, offer recommendations to the board to determine possible new programs and services.

Alice Running, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor, Orvis School of Nursing, was elected by the University's Faculty Senate Professional Development Leave Committee.

Seven Division Faculty Graduate from Scholars in Health Literacy and Aging Project

The Scholars in Health Literacy and Aging project was launched in July 2008 and recently graduated their first cohort of participants. Congratulations to Stephanie Asteriadis, Center for the Application of Substance Abuse, Tami Brancamp, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Daniel M. Cook, School of Community Health Sciences, Susan Ervin and Mary Ann Lambert, Orvis School of Nursing, and Jeanne Hilton and Karen Kopera-Frye, School of Social Work.

The project began as part of a grant awarded to the Nevada Geriatric Education Center in a federal effort to raise awareness on health literacy and geriatric health care. As part of their course work, each faculty member was required to complete a project. Some if the faculty projects included revising training materials for a senior problem gambling kit (Asteriadis), assigning students the task of revising patient handout materials (Brancamp), incorporating health literacy concepts and geriatric content into revised curriculum (Cook, Ervin, Lambert ) and creating train-the-trainer curriculum on computer literacy (Hilton). Faculty delivered formal or informal presentations on health literacy to students and colleagues and report an increased understanding and awareness of health literacy and how to apply the principles.

If you are interested in participating in this training program, contact Patti Swager at (775) 327-2285.

Grants, Publications and Research Activities

Miriam Bar-on, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education, and co-authors had two articles published in the Sept. issue of Academic Medicine. The first article, “One Specialty's Collaborative Approach to Competency-Based Curriculum Development,” describes a seven-step consensus development process used to create the two most recent editions of the Academic Pediatric Association's educational guidelines for pediatric residency.

The second, “Evaluation of the Use of an Interactive, Online Resource for Competency-Based Curriculum Development,” describes the pediatric educators' use of and satisfaction with the Academic Pediatric Association's Educational Guidelines for Pediatric Residency, resulting in a practical strategy for evaluating access to online curriculum development tools.

Sreekanth Donepudi, M.D., M.P.H., geriatrics fellow at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, and Dominique Joseph, M.P.H., research assistant with the Sanford Center, on behalf of their co-investigators Wei Yang, Ph.D., M.D., professor, School of Community Health Sciences and Diane Chau, M.D., University of Nevada School of Medicine, presented findings from their recent research regarding colorectal cancer screening behaviors. This was presented at the Nevada Public Health Association annual meeting held Sept. 21-22 in Reno.

Leticia Cano, Ph.D., postdoctoral scholar, University of Nevada School of Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology, will present "Personal Latina Postdoctoral Experiences and Social Networking" at the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering of the National Science Foundation at a Mini-Symposium on Women of Color in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Nevin Wilson, M.D., chair of University of Nevada School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics (Reno), co-authored the paper, “Influence of cytokine gene variations on immunization to childhood vaccines” which was accepted for publication in the journal Vaccine.

Alice Boateng, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Social Work, was published in the Sept. issue of Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 36(3), pp. 59-81, for her research, “A Mixed-Method Analysis of Social Capital of Liberian Refugee Women in Ghana.”

Peggy Dupey, Ph.D., interim associate dean for admissions and student affairs, School of Medicine, will co-present “Special Accommodations for Medical Students: Balancing ADA Compliance with Educational Objectives and Technical Standards” at the Nov. Association of American Medical Colleges Annual Meeting in Boston.

Bernadette Longo, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing, was featured in Honolulu, Aug. 2009, in the article “The Wrath of Vog” for her research with the Kilauea Volcano Health Study.

Nominations Sought for Three Regents’ Research Awards

The Office of the Vice President for Research is seeking nominations from the campus community for three prestigious Regent’s Awards. These awards include the following categories: Researcher Award, Rising Researcher Award and Creative Activities Award. Deadlines and application criteria for each of the awards can be found at the respective links. Take note of the respective deadlines for nomination letters to the Office of the Vice President for Research. Letters may be submitted as a PDF attachment in an e-mail or a hard copy can be delivered to Ross Hall, Room 201 between 8am-5pm, Mon.-Fri. or sent by campus mail to 0403.

Student News

Wolf Pack Triathlon Club

Students, Staff Participate in Wolf Pack Triathlon Club

The Wolf Pack Triathlon Club placed first for the fastest team at the Granite Bay Triathlon on Sept. 26. The race was a California sprint distance lead and coached by Scott Young, who teaches the triathlon training course through Campus Wellness and Recreation. Several health sciences division students and staff are members of the club and participated in the race.

ASUN Update

Geramye Teeter, Associated Students of the University of Nevada senator representing the Division of Health Sciences, reports that he has put forth a bill through the senate that will establish a partnership with the student health center and ASUN. This partnership aims to help the health center advertise two new initiatives aimed at student health and wellness. In addition, he is also working the Graduate Student Association to establish a “College Health Week.” If you are interested in helping with these initiatives, contact Geramye.

Health Sciences Division Graduate Student Association Rep Needed

A new position on the Graduate Student Association has been created for the Division of Health Sciences, making a total of three for the council. Two seats are currently filled by students from the School of Community Health Sciences and the School of Medicine. If you are a graduate student and would like to serve on the council, contact Joseph Medillin, graduate assistant.

Bierkamper Convocation Call for Abstracts

Medical and graduate students are invited to submit abstracts for the 27th Annual Bierkamper Student Research Convocation by Dec. 4 for presentation at the Jan. 19, 2010 event. Priority for abstract acceptance will be given to original unpublished basic and/or clinical research that includes development of a hypothesis, a methodical approach, collection of result and discussion.

Sanford Grad Assistant Awarded NPHA Scholarship

Paula Valencia-Castro, M.P.H. was awarded a $500 scholarship at the Nevada Public Health Association’s annual meeting. In a letter congratulating her on the award, Association President Nancy Menzel, Ph.D., R.N., said the scholarship recognized the quality of her submission, including identification of a public health issue facing Nevada, her professional goals, and plans to contribute to the field of public health. Valencia-Castro is currently working as a research assistant for the medication therapy management program at the Sanford Center for Aging while pursuing a post-doctorate in environmental sciences and health. She is interested in investigating the impact of the built environment and area of residency on individuals’ health. Specifically, she is concerned about how these affect older adults’ well-being and its impact on their health and access to health care and medications.

Student Services Launches MAP-Works

MAP-Works is a new way for students to connect with faculty and staff. Launched on Sept. 15, all freshmen were sent an email asking them to participate in a survey regarding their transition to the University. The information from the survey helps faculty connect to students and provides access to resources, services and programs to assist with challenges and campus adjustments. MAP-Works is another way for students to feel connected to the University and encourages students to complete their degree. Faculty and staff are able to reach out to students who are facing challenges and provide early intervention to assist those in need and help all students succeed. The intention is to have new students utilize this communication and intervention tool to help them succeed and persist. For more information on the MAP-Works survey, contact the Office of New Student Initiatives at (775) 784-4306 or the campus coordinator, Cairn Lindloff.

Copyright © 2009 Health Sciences.