Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

Winter 2012

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

Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D.

Welcome to the exciting interdisciplinary Division of Health Sciences! Since our formation two years ago, we have explored what it means to be a Division, how we can collaborate on interdisciplinary projects where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and how we can add value through working together.

Even at this early point in our development, we have much to report about the interdisciplinary and collaborative work amongst and between our faculty. For example, the Orvis School of Nursing (OSN) and the Sanford Center on Aging (SCA) have partnered in serving the frail and elderly in conjunction with the Senior Outreach Services (SOS) program. Cathy Butler (OSN) and Sina Ward (SCA) lead a project in which nursing students and SOS volunteers conduct health assessments of homebound seniors and organize community services where needed to support their clients. (full article in this issue) Michele Pelter (OSN) has partnered with cardiologists at Reno Heart Physicians on a community-based study of heart disease.

Kim Baxter (OSN) is working with Melissa Piasecki, University of Nevada School of Medicine (UNSOM) and Evan Klass (UNSOM) on project ECHO, a telemedicine project designed to bring specialty consultations to rural Nevada. Bernadette Longo (OSN) works with Wei Yang, School of Community Health Sciences (SCHS), on a research study of air pollution and its adverse effects and Wei-Chen Tung (OSN) is working with Minggen Lu (SCHS) and Dan Cook (SCHS) on research that has led to several publications and a grant from the American Nurses Foundation.

Eric Albers, School of Social Work (SW) collaborates with colleagues in the College of Education, University of Nevada School of Medicine and Speech Pathology on neurodevelopmental disorders and disabilities, resulting in major grants and presentations. Jeanne Hilton (SW) has developed partnerships in the community, including the Washoe County Senior Services, to provide outreach to seniors designed to maintain their independent living status in the community. The program has been adopted in other states and has been shown to improve function and quality of life, including a decreased suicide rate.

The School of Community Health Sciences faculty members often provide the research foundation for many collaborations. For example, Julie Smith-Gagen (SCHS) worked with Alice Running (OSN) on a study of acupuncture treatment for the relief of female sexual dysfunction. Paul Devereux (SCHS) works with James Kenyon (UNSOM) on a major NIH- grant that supports clinical research on screening for colon cancer, in collaboration with St. Mary's Hospital and private GI specialists.

The faculty and staff members of Division of Health Sciences are demonstrating through real collaborations, real work and real results how the Division is demonstrating its value as a collaborative organization committed to excellence in interdisciplinary research and teaching.


News from Division of Health Sciences Units

Cultural Considerations in Health Care event to be held February 13-14

High Sierra Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and the Division of Health Sciences are proud to present Cultural Considerations in Health Care 2012, an interdisciplinary event, created by students for students, which provides students in the health sciences an educational experience in cultural awareness and its application to health research, policy and practice. The event will be held February 13-14, 2012. CCHC 2012 will emphasize cultural health care issues unique to patient populations of Nevada. The two-day event consists of 15 sessions sponsored or presented by 16 organizations, including student clubs and academic units within the University as well as community organizations. Presenters include both well-recognized university faculty as well as established community professionals with a high level of expertise on linguistic and cultural considerations in health care.

We appreciate your support for this exciting event, now in its second year! The full schedule for Cultural Considerations in Health Care 2012, including activity descriptions, will be distributed electronically Friday January 20th with print materials to follow the week of January 30th. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Andrea Gibbins andreagibbins@yahoo.com or Michelle Bowman bowmanm8@unr.edu.

Orvis School of Nursing receives re-accreditation

Patsy Ruchala, DNSC, RN, director and professor, Orvis School of Nursing, recently announced that the BSN and MSN programs in the Orvis School of Nursing have been re-accredited for the maximum term of 10 years by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The CCNE Board found that the OSN met all four accreditation standards with no compliance concerns related to any of the key elements of the accreditation standards. Congratulations to the faculty and staff for their contributions during this process.

DHS Student Emergency Fund reaches $1,555

The Division of Health Sciences Student Emergency Assistance Fund was recently created to assist and provide support for continued access to education as well as basic living accommodations (such as food, utilities, etc.) when unforeseen emergencies create extreme financial burdens for our students. This fund will provide need-based emergency assistance to all students in Division of Health Sciences academic programs. Its purpose is to aid students whose ability to continue their studies in a DHS program may be jeopardized by extreme cases of financial need. Faculty and staff have been asked to donate to this emergency fund and help reach the initial goal of $1,500 and to identify and request funds on behalf of students in need. To date, we have collected $1,555. For details on the fund request process or if you would like to make a donation, please contact your department director or chair or e-mail Michelle Bowman at bowmanm8@unr.edu

School of Medicine and High Sierra Area Health Education Center announce the release of Health Care Careers in Nevada manual

The High Sierra Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and University of Nevada School of Medicine are pleased to present Health Care Careers in Nevada 2011-2012. This first edition of the manual contains a wide range of current information on nearly 70 health care occupations in Nevada, including an overview of job requirements, Nevada employment outlook, and average salary data in Nevada for each occupation. The guide also provides a detailed inventory of educational certificate and degree programs in Nevada for each health care occupation.

John Packham, Ph.D., director of health policy research at the School of Medicine notes that "health care careers in Nevada continue to represent well-paying, recession-resistant employment for thousands of Nevadans poised to enter the state's workforce - opportunities that will only increase with the growing demand for health care over the next two decades. Our hope is that Health Care Careers in Nevada can assist anyone interested in exploring such opportunities." For additional information on health care careers in Nevada and to access the interactive version of the Health Care Careers in Nevada 2011-2012 manual, visit High Sierra AHEC

Nevada AIDS Education and Training Center goes statewide

The Nevada AIDS Education and Training Center (NAETC) received an award to open a statewide office on January 1, 2012. The program has served Reno and northern Nevada and will now be offering an array of capacity building, technical assistance, workforce development, consultations, case discussions and educational programs to providers across Nevada regarding HIV/AIDS clinical care. Trudy Larson, M.D. will be the NAETC Medical Director and Patty Charles, Dr.PH will be the Statewide Director. The Department of Family and Community Medicine, under the chairmanship of Elissa Palmer, M.D. will collaborate to establish a branch office at the School of Medicine in Las Vegas. Jennifer Bennett, MPH will serve in the crucial role of assuring statewide program development and implementation.

New Office of Academic Affairs formed for School of Medicine

Thomas Schwenk, M.D., dean, School of Medicine, recently announced a major change in the leadership and structure of the academic programs at University of Nevada School of Medicine—the formation of the Office of Academic Affairs, effective January 1, 2012. This office will be responsible for the design, implementation, management and evaluation of all programs in medical student education, medical school admissions, student affairs, faculty development, faculty affairs, and continuing medical education. Melissa Piasecki, M.D., professor of psychiatry, has agreed to take on the newly-created role of Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and lead this new office. As part of this new office, Deborah Kuhls, M.D., professor of surgery, will assume the role of Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in Las Vegas. Tim Baker, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine, will become the new Associate Dean for Medical Education. Jennifer Hagen M.D., associate professor of internal medicine, will assume the position of Associate Dean for Faculty Development. Dr. Hagen will continue to serve as Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program in Reno. Peggy Dupey, Ph.D., will continue as the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs. Beverly Neyland, M.D., Assistant Dean for Admissions, and Melissa O'Brien, M.S. as Director of Continuing Medical Education will also continue as part of this structure under Dr. Piasecki's leadership. Gwen Shonkwiler, Ph.D. will serve the office as Assistant Dean for Evaluation and Assessment.

Orvis School of Nursing students partner with Senior Outreach Services (SOS), Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, Sanford Center for Aging

Creating healthier communities require collaborative solutions. Community-campus partnerships involve communities and higher educational institutions as mutual partners, and may address such areas as health professions education (i.e., through service-learning), health care delivery, research (i.e., through community-based participatory research), community service, community-wide health improvement (i.e., through Healthy Communities initiatives), and community/economic development.

This partnership was formed to meet the health needs (physical, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental) of the vulnerable population, the homebound senior receiving SOS volunteer supportive services and the student need for service-learning. Service-learning, a curricular teaching and learning strategy, integrates community service and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

This win-win partnership grew out of collaboration between Cathy Butler, M.S.N., R. N., A.H.N.C., assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing and Sina Ward Ed. D., project director, Senior Outreach Services, Sanford Center for Aging. Two weeks following the collaboration, OSN summer semester was in full swing with students and volunteers around a conference table discussing the process for the partnership, with students taking client assignment and the SOS volunteers providing the pre-brief of emergent client health needs.

The comprehensive in-home care provided by the nursing students,overseen by faculty, closes the health care gap, i.e., access to care, volunteer supportive services could not, yet has long been identified as the missing link in the overall objective of "aging in place" for this vulnerable population. This mutually beneficial partnership has built upon the assets, strengths and capacities of each partner and is characterized by mutual trust, respect, genuineness, and commitment. Both students and seniors have benefitted from this interdisciplinary and intergenerational community-campus partnership.

New online continuing education programs for health professions available through AHEC

High Sierra Area Health Education Center (AHEC) pursues its mission through the provision of quality continuing education (CE) programs. In order for health care professionals to become updated on the most recent advancements and research, continuing education is an essential requirement to ensure quality health care services. All CE programs are designed to meet the education and training needs of health providers in the allied health, dental health, medicine, mental health, nursing, pharmacy, and public health professions. Continuing education allows working health professionals to expand and classify the various principles with which they work on, and as a result, they are able to provide better quality care to their patients.

High Sierra AHEC offers a wide range of highly interactive courses that you can take entirely over the Internet. The course content will provide you with accredited continuing education programs and professional support to meet your needs, enhance clinical skills, and help maintain professional certifications and licensure. Both the Instructor-led and Self-paced courses are facilitated by expert instructors, many of whom are nationally known authors. For more information go to Online Learning Center Website.

Upcoming Events

NGEC offers lecture on Aging and Assistive Technology on February 16

The Nevada Geriatric Education Consortium is offering a lecture on "Aging and Assistive Technology: Maintaining Independence" by Tami Brancamp, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University School of Nevada School of Medicine, on February 16, 2012 at 12 noon to 1 pm in Room 214, PME. The lectures are open to all health sciences students and faculty. The lectures will be broadcast over interactive video in Battle Mountain, Elko, Ely, Eureka, Gardnerville, Hawthorne, Henderson, Las Vegas, Lovelock, Pahrump, Reno, Winnemucca, and Yerington. CME's and CEU's are available. The program is free, however, you must register by contacting Diann Jones (775) 682-8470.

Support AWCMS rummage sale and support scholarships

The Alliance with the Washoe County Medical Society 61st Rummage Sale takes place from 8:00am to 4:00pm Saturday, March 3 in the Exhibit Hall at the Livestock Events Center, 1350 N. Wells Ave. The sale includes furniture, collectibles, housewares, books, art, toys, clothing, sports equipment and shoes. Admission: $3.00 and free ages 17 and younger. Proceeds benefit nursing scholarships and health programs. Details: (775) 829-1303.

Our People

  • Gwen Shonkwiler, Ph.D., assistant dean for assessment and evaluation, School of Medicine has been accepted and will attend the 2012 Harvard Macy Institute: A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Science Education. This five day intensive program addresses multiple aspects of academic assessment: learning and acquisition of competencies, alignment of resources, teaching, educational effort and scholarship, and program efficacy, all of which are viewed through the structured lens of systems thinking.
  • The Nevada AIDS Project presented faculty oncology surgeon Daniel Kirgan, M.D., its lifetime achievement award at a gala event on AIDS Awareness Day, Dec. 1, 2011. The award honored those who have made a difference in the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS in the Las Vegas Valley. Nominated by his peers, Kirgan received the honor for his work as chair of University Medical Center's institutional review board, which overseas research projects and clinical trials at UMC.
  • Vani Dandolu, M.D., MPH, M.B.A., chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology-Las Vegas, School of Medicine, been appointed to the Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology Ad-Hoc Marketing/Communications Committee.
  • Wilfredo Torres, M.D., PG-Y2 resident, has been selected to serve as the new Nevada section Junior Fellow Vice Chair for District VIII of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • David Howard, M.D., Ph.D.; University of Nevada School of Medicine graduate, has joined the Dept. of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Assoc. Residency as Program Director
  • Sujatha Pitani, M.D. and Mellany Manaig, M.D., have been named Physicians in Charge of Medical Continuity Clinic.
  • Doina Kulick, M.D. has been appointed Physician in Charge of Wellness and Weight Management
  • John Hsieh Ph.D., professor of biostatics, School of Community Health Science retired in December. He came to UNR in 2005 to establish a biostatistics group as part of the development of a School of Public Health. During his long and productive career, he was a well-funded researcher with expertise in statistical evaluation of research trials and epidemiologic studies and received numerous awards from National Health and Welfare, Canada. He has published over 100 papers and in his years at UNR, has made significant contributions to the literature on advanced biostatistical analysis. He is nearing completion of his book on "Modern Statistical Methods in Epidemiology". Dr. Hsieh will retire with his Emeritus designation from UNR in honor of his exceptional career.
  • Mistee T. Arias, J.D., joined the School of Medicine as assistant general counsel in Las Vegas on Jan. 3. She has a great deal of litigation experience with special emphasis in medical malpractice defense, recently working at the Robichaud law firm and also served as a prosecutor in Arizona. Arias will be located on the fourth floor in the 2040 building. She can be reached at (702) 671-2290.
  • Diane Chau, M.D., FACP, program director, Geriatric Medicine and HPC Fellowships recently passed her recertification exam in geriatrics. Georges El Hoyek, M.D., Phyu Lim, M.D., and Christianne Bishop, M.D., Division of Geriatric Medicine fellows passed their geriatric board examinations. The University of Nevada School of Medicine Geriatric Medicine Fellowship has had a 100% Geriatrics ABMS subspecialty board examination pass rate of 100% since inception of the one year training program for all graduates since 2006. The national average pass rate for first time takers in Geriatrics is 81%.
  • R. Scott Trevithick, M.Div., has been named Project Director for the Sanford Center for Aging's (SCA's) Volunteer Programs at the University of Nevada, Reno. Scott brings over 20 years of program development and leadership experience to this position. Most recently, he was the Executive Director of Special Advocates for Elders (SAFE), a program which recruited and trained volunteers to be advocates for elders facing guardianship. Within his first year with SAFE, he led the organization to double its volunteer base and rewrite its training curricula. He has extensive experience working with seniors, churches, and other community organizations. His leadership with SCA's volunteer programs will include drawing upon these community relationships for the benefit of students seeking Service Learning opportunities to enhance their academic experience.
  • Bernadette Longo, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing, will be participating in the upcoming "50 States United for Healthy Air" congressional lobby event in Washington D.C. on May 2-4th sponsored by Earthjustice, the American Nurses Association, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Grants, Publications and Research Activities

  • Melanie Minarik, Ph.D.,director of MPH Program, School of Community Health Sciences and Richelle O'Driscoll, M.A., director of internal/external affairs, Division of Health Sciences were awarded two contracts for a total of $84,500 with the Nevada Public Health Foundation to conduct trainings and provide technical consultation on quality improvement processes and initiatives that will assist the State of Nevada Health Division in meeting the national accreditation standards set by the national Public Health Accreditation Board. They will also be conducting additional quality improvement workshops in 2012 to all employees of the health division, statewide.
  • Christian Stone, M.D., associate professor, Department of Internal Medicine-Las Vegas, School of Medicine, authored a chapter "Sequential and Combination Therapy for Small Bowel Crohn's Disease" in Advanced Therapy in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, 3rd Edition, Bayless T, Hanauer S, Eds.,Sheldon, Connecticut: People's Medical Publishing House, 2011;625-31.
  • Cynthia Corley Mastick, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine was awarded a three year $328,000 Basic Science Award from the American Diabetes Association entitled "Regulation of Glut4 trafficking kinetics by insulin." The grant will start January 2012.
  • Bernadette Longo, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing, received a Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Small Research Grant for the CARE-Vog Study: Cardiorespiratory Assessment of Residents Exposed to Vog. Field work is planned at Kilauea for summer 2012.

Student News

MPH graduate student passes national health education exam

Carina Rivera, a second-year MPH student in Social and Behavioral Health, passed a national exam administered through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. and is now a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). To pass the exam, one must meet standards of competence to "assess individual and community needs for health education; plan effective health education strategies, interventions, and programs; implement health education strategies, interventions, and programs; conduct evaluation and research related to health education; administer health education strategies, interventions, and programs; serve as a health education resource person; communicate and advocate for health and health education."

Nursing students to be honored

Each year students from the Orvis School of Nursing have the opportunity to receive awards from the Northern Nevada "Nurses of Achievement" Committee. It was created in 1999 to recognize the need to shine a spotlight on a profession founded over 150 years ago by nurse Florence Nightingale. The goal of this committee of dedicated nurses was to honor their colleagues and to increase awareness of nursing as a profession. Students are selected by the OSN Faculty because of high-achievement in school performance and demonstrated leadership and/or excellence in nursing citizenry. They will be honored in a gala dinner in May. The 2011 winners are:

  • Undergraduate (generic BSN) Student: Hilary Simpson
  • RN-BSN Student: Tatiana Pollard, RN (from Winnemucca, Nevada)
  • Graduate Student: Kristen Richardson, RN (Family Nurse Practitioner Track; a native Nevadan)

Med students reach out to local high school over holiday break

Mike Ulrich and members of the Class of 2015, School of Medicine, spent part of their holiday break reaching out to students at North Valleys High School in Reno to inform young students about the career path to medicine.

"Many of the community colleges are holding recruiting events trying to get kids into their CNA and medical technician programs, and my wife, who is a teacher at North Valleys, tells me there is a great deal of confusion among high school students about medicine and the path to becoming a doctor," said Ulrich, explaining his rationale for initiating this event.

SCA graduate assistant publishes journal article

Valerie Lykes, graduate assistant for the Sanford Center for Aging and social psychology doctoral student, was recently published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion with an article she co-authored entitled, "A Clash of Civilizations? Preferences for Religious Political Leaders in 86 Nations."

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