Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

Winter 2013

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

Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D.

Strategic directions: Health Sciences supports the big picture

The Nevada System of Higher Education has laid out a clear and detailed set of strategic initiatives, to which the Division of Health Sciences can and should make major contributions. As we continue to develop the concept of a Division of Health Sciences, and explore how our several units can collaborate in teaching and research, these NSHE initiatives provide some clear directions to explore. Here is a sample of the initiatives and some examples of how we can and do contribute.

Utilize data to identify obstacles to student success and take appropriate steps to correct those obstacles.

  • N-RAP–Nevada's Recovery and Prevention Community conducts AA meetings twice a week on campus as well as organizing several other support activities under the umbrella of Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies (CASAT) and the direction of CASAT leaders Meri Shadley, Ph.D., project director, and Daniel Fred, M.S, program coordinator.
  • The directors of the various DHS schools and programs have recently discussed the value of developing a "boot camp", similar to the program recently described by the new UNR Provost, Kevin Carman, focused on skills that are particularly critical to success in the Health Sciences, such as critical thinking, writing or analytical skills.

Develop new degree and certificate programs to provide students with career and technical options consistent with current and forecasted economic development and workforce goals of the state.

  • Launch and early success of a new online Doctor of Nursing Practice, a collaboration between the Orvis School of Nursing and the UNLV School of Nursing. The program graduated 19 students in Spring 2012 with 34 students currently enrolled.
  • New certificate programs were created in the University of Nevada School of Medicine Post-Baccalaureate Certificate (seven students in inaugural class) as a bridge for promising students between an undergraduate degree and medical school.
  • The initial success of the new M.P.H. degree in Community Health Sciences was exceeded by its subsequent enrollment, and is well on its way to support the long-term development of SCHS as a full School of Public Health.
  • University of Nevada School of Medicine has developed a full set of plans for a major expansion of its residency and fellowship training programs, with a focus on specific specialties and subspecialties that can have the greatest impact on health and health care in Nevada.

Develop appropriate public/private partnerships with community, businesses and K‑12 to support innovation connectivity, including enhanced collaborative R&D efforts between industry and higher education research institutions.

  • A business was formed by Dr. Tom Kozel, working with the Technology Transfer Office (TTO,) to produce antigenic material to incorporate onto test strips, to be manufactured by an out-of-state company, that are used for the diagnosis of cryptococcal meningitis. This enterprise is the result of more than 20 years of research supported by UNR and multiple NIH grants.

These are just a few of the examples of how DHS can make major contributions to the larger academic enterprise in Nevada.


News from Division of Health Sciences Units

"Faces of Health: Cultural Considerations in Health Care" event to be held Feb. 25-26

The Division of Health Sciences and High Sierra Area Health Education Center (AHEC) will be presenting the third annual "Faces of Health: Cultural Considerations in Health Care", 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 all day, February 25-26 at the Joe Crowley Student Union and features 17 sessions sponsored or presented by 24 organizations, including student clubs and academic units within the University as well as community organizations.

The keynote session will feature a presentation and group discussion by Dr. Victoria Sweet, author of God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine on Monday, Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the Joe Crowley Student Union ballroom, which is open to the public. Dr. Sweet will tell stories of her remarkable patients at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, with their surprising answers to our health care crisis, based on her highly-praised new book. Published last spring, God's Hotel made the San Francisco Chronicle's best sellers list its first week out, and has garnered strong praise from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly and fellow physician-writers such as Oliver Sacks. Dr. Sweet is a fantastic story-teller and has unique insights on medical care, advocating an approach she calls "slow medicine".

New library resource for further dissemination of posters

The Savitt Medical Library has constructed an online site to host and organize PDF versions of posters presented at conferences in order to help authors reach a wider audience. The website helps create an enduring record of School of Medicine research and is fully discoverable through Google searches. If you have posters you would like to submit, please make sure they are in PDF format, have "Poster" in the subject line and email them to Michelle Rachal.

University of Nevada School of Medicine furthers partnership with Thai medical school

Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., vice president, Division of Health Sciences and dean, School of Medicine, Miriam Bar-on, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education and Pisespong Patamasucon, M.D. professor of pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Las Vegas, were invited to be guest speakers at Phramongkutkloa Medical School in Bangkok, Thailand during that institution's annual medical meeting last November. Schwenk led the Nevada team that met with Major General Dr. Chumpol Piamsomboon, PMK's new dean and director of the Phramongkutkloa Hospital, his administrative team and various department chairs. Faculty from both schools reviewed their past cooperation with each other and further planned cooperation was addressed, especially in the area of basic sciences.

Nominations sought for E.W. Richardson Excellence in Teaching Award

The School of Medicine is currently seeking nominations for the E.W. Richardson Excellence in Teaching Award for the academic year 2012-13. This award recognizes faculty who have distinguished themselves by their teaching effort and are considered outstanding educators. Nominations close Feb. 15.

Mojave Adult, Child, and Family Services shares a client success and starts pilot program for foster children

Linda J. Lathrop, LSW, MSW, psychiatric case manager, Mojave Adult, Child and Family Services, Las Vegas, shares a story about a client who has utilized the mental health services that Mojave, Adult, Child and Family Services provides. Mojave, Adult, Child and Family Services is a clinical practice of the University of Nevada School of Medicine offers varied and comprehensive services for adults and youth with behavioral health needs.

Also, the children's clinic at the Mojave West Charleston office has entered into a pilot program for foster youth with the Department of Family Services in Clark County. Children that enter into the foster care system of care are selected to participate in a wrap around service called MIST (Mojave Intensive Support Team). This is a multidisciplinary team consisting of a therapist, case manager, nurse, and psychiatrist. The children are seen soon after they are placed into foster care and given an intake to assess for therapeutic, case management and medical needs. A dialogue is encouraged between the biological parent and the care taking foster parent to ease the transition for the child while the parent works on regaining custody. Support is also offered to the parent or family members to give them opportunities to bring the child home while learning healthy strategies dealing with parent-child interactions. Children are given a variety of assessments checking for trauma, medical issues and social adjustment.

University Student Health Center and Counseling Services bring National Eating Disorder Awareness Walk to campus on March 2

Help raise awareness for eating disorders and promote a healthy body image for all by forming a team and participating in the National Eating Disorder Awareness Walk held on the quad on March 2, 2013 - festivities begin at 10am. There will be a short walk, music, food, raffles and more! UNR Counseling Services and the Student Health Center have partnered up to bring this event to campus and need your support to make it a success. You can form a team and walk with us! For information, contact Enid Jennings, MPH, CHES, health promotion coordinator/health educator.

Selby Health Care Research Symposium to address patient-centered research on Mar. 25 and 26

Joe V. Selby, M.D., MPH, executive director of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) in Washington, D.C.,will speak on "The Changing Landscape of Health Care: How Patient-Centered Research Can Lead to Improvement." He will be the inaugural speaker for the Division of Health Sciences Health Care Research Symposium(s) to be held March 25 in Reno and March 26 in Las Vegas.

Dr. Selby will be discussing PCORI's mission and how it relates to and supports current health reform initiatives and how the national research agenda for PCORI is charting a clear path to research that involves patients and stakeholders and produces information about the best available evidence to help patients and their health care provider make more informed choices. He will also address what types of patient-centered questions PCORI set out to answer and the research projects that have been funded and upcoming funding opportunities.

The Reno event will be held on Monday, March 25 in Nightingale Hall on the University of Nevada, Reno campus and is sponsored by the Division of Health Sciences at UNR. The Las Vegas event will be held on Tuesday, March 26 at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, 888 W. Bonneville Avenue and is sponsored by the University of Nevada School of Medicine, the Cleveland Clinic, the Southern Nevada Medical Industry Coalition and the Clark County Medical Society.

Please register here to attend Dr. Selby's presentation in Reno or in Las Vegas.

Moving "Faculty Forward" at the School of Medicine

The University of Nevada School of Medicine will be participating in Faculty Forward, a new initiative with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Faculty Forward is a collaborative partnership between the AAMC, member medical schools and teaching hospitals from around the country. Organizations participating in Faculty Forward will be able to identify strengths and areas needing development, and to benchmark with other participating organizations to share innovative and effective faculty engagement practices. The initiative employs a validated survey instrument to assess and guide improvements in faculty satisfaction, retention, and vitality. The survey, to be launched in February 2013, will produce faculty satisfaction data that can be bench-marked with peer institutions.

"The ultimate goal of bringing this program to UNSOM (University of Nevada School of Medicine) is to effect institutional changes that will create and sustain a positive culture and guide our institution in improving faculty satisfaction. The Office of Faculty Development and the newly formed Faculty Forward Task Force team, look forward to this opportunity," said Jennifer Hagen, M.D.'93, associate dean for faculty development.

Chandler and Jones win national book award for 'Casino Women' book

School of Social Work professor Susan Chandler, Ph.D., and Jill B. Jones, Ph.D. associate professor emeritus, received the 2012 Oral History Association National Book Award at the Oral History Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio for their book, Casino Women: Courage in Unexpected Places. The book, published by Cornell University Press, is based on extended interviews the two had with women working in a wide variety of jobs in Nevada's casinos from the 1950's to the present.

Sanders serves as invited scholar in Japan

Mary Sanders, Ph.D., RCEP, FACSM, registered clinical exercise physiologist for the Wellness and Weight Management Clinic and associate professor, School of Medicine recently returned from Kanoya, Japan, where she was one of two American invited scholars at the "2012 International Forum on Muscle Fitness Exercise as Chokin (meaning investment) for Elderly People," organized by the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Lifelong Sport and Physical Activity of Kanoya. According to Sanders, the country's Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, Sciences and Technology sponsored this forum inviting speakers from six countries, across four continents, to discuss current scientific evidence about aging issues, especially those related to maintaining independence. Sanders presented her research paper that included data from her two studies entitled "Impact of a Water-Based Program on Activities of Daily Living for Older Women in the USA and Japan."

Ezeanolue invited to speak; has work accepted for presentation

Las Vegas-based pediatrician Echezona Ezeanolue, M.D., spoke at the HRSA Ryan White all guarantee meeting in Washington, DC last November. The meeting focused on the role of clinicians in eliminating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Ezeanolue is a long-time HIV/AIDS clinician at the School of Medicine. He also had three abstracts "Project bend: balanced early nutrition for development among orphaned children," "I care to know: an innovative edutainment program to increase HIV screening among adolescents aged 10-18 years in Nigeria" and "Impact of prenatal counseling by a pediatrician on post-delivery follow-up among HIV-exposed infants" accepted for presentation at the 2013 Western Regional Meetings held last month. Dr. Ezeanolue earned a travel award for the highest scoring abstract in his subspecialty category at the 2013 Western Society for Clinical Investigation.

Rull presents at epidemiology conference

Rudy Rull, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Community Health Sciences, presented "Environmental cadmium exposure and the risks of estrogen-receptor positive and negative breast cancer" at the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology in August.

Pixley presents at immunology meeting; named associate editor

John Pixley, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine in Reno, presented "Transient Neuropsychiatric Lupus in an Elderly Man" at the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies annual meeting last summer in Vancouver, BC. He was also named associate editor for the World Journal of Stem Cells.

Fildes named honorary fellow

John Fildes, M.D., professor of surgery, was made an honorary fellow by the Philippine College of Surgeons for his work to advance trauma life support in that country.

Dupey appointed to editorial board

Peggy Dupey, Ph.D., associate dean, Office of Student Affairs, School of Medicine, has been appointed the editorial board of the National Board of Certified Counselors journal

Staff employees recognized at DHS and UNSOM holiday parties

The Division of Health Sciences and School of Medicine recognized several employees at both ends of the state for their outstanding work and service at the annual holiday parties in December.

In Las Vegas, Denise Kelly received the 2012 Practice Plan Employee of the Year and Sherry Marcu was named the 2012 Classified Employee of the Year. In Reno, Janice Saephan was named the 2012 Practice Plan Employee of the Year while Bill Swager was named 2012 Classified Employee of the Year. Several dozen more School of Medicine staff members statewide were also recognized for their nominations and years of service.


Terry HennerHenner receives three grants totaling $45,000 for Savitt Medical Library

Terry Henner, M.A., associate professor and director, Savitt Medical Library has received three new grants for enhancements to library services. A grant for $28,000 from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine will support efforts to increase access to health information for care providers and healthcare consumers in rural and Nevada. The library will be developing training programs and virtual learning environments to help promote best practices in rural patient care and inform the decision making of health consumers.

The $12,000 from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine will support a collaborative effort with the University of Nevada School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine, Reno in developing web-based, patient-centered education programs and explore the use of iPads in the clinical setting and their impact in improving physician-patient communication.

An additional award of $5,000 from the UNR ASUN Student Employment and Engagement Grants program will enable creation of a web design position to enhance the ability of the University of Nevada School of Medicine Project ECHO initiative to promote outreach and educational opportunities to care providers in rural Nevada.


  • David Jackson, M.D., obstetrics and gynecology professor, has had his abstract entitled "Breaking Bad News During Perinatal Sonography: Practical Aspects of a Novel Educational Pilot Utilizing High Fidelity Hybrid Simulation" accepted for oral presentation by the American Institutes of Ultrasound in Medicine at their annual convention this April.
  • Mary Beth Hogan, M.D., pediatrics professor in Reno, is co-author of a manuscript entitled "Efficacy of a parent-youth teamwork intervention to promote adherence in pediatric asthma" that has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
  • Matthew Grolle M.D., an OB/GYN resident and Iolanda Edsall, Class of 2014, have had their abstract entitled "Resident Documentation after Operative Vaginal Deliveries" accepted for oral presentation next month at the 2013 CREOG and APGO Annual Meeting. Faculty co-authors are Vani Dandolu, M.D., OB/GYN chair, and Marsha Kirgan, M.D.
  • JH Brien, M.D., Robert Gordon, M.D., OB/GYN resident, Pisespong Patamasucon M.D., professor of pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, co-authored, "What's your diagnosis? Previously healthy premature neonate presents with increasing discomfort" in Infectious Diseases in Children December 2012;25(10):19-20.
  • Samrat Das, M.D., assistant professor and Pisespong Patamasucon M.D., professor of pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, published "What's your DX? A 10-year-old girl with generalized, scaly rash" in Contemporary Pediatrics December 2012;29(12):29-30.
  • John Fildes, M.D., professor of surgery and chief, Division of Trauma & Critical Care Department of Surgery, Las Vegas and Edward Kwon, M.D., co- authored a chapter "Scoring for Injury & Emergency Surgery" in the just released for the Trauma Manual: Trauma & Acute Care Surgery.
  • David Antonuccio, Ph.D., Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, ABPP,professor emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, revised and updated the Ebook version of his book Butt Out, designed to help people quit smoking. The Ebook can be found on Amazon and Barnes &Noble and Smashwords

Student News

Nursing Level III students' homeless video project highlighted on local news

Orvis School of Nursing Level III students were recently featured on KRNV News 4 for the project that they completed as part of their community health nursing rotation focusing on the needs of Reno's homeless population. The students created a You Tube video which will be distributed throughout the community to bring awareness and a call to action for the homeless throughout the year. Salli J. Vannucci, M.S.N., R.N., G.C.P.H., assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing, served as the faculty advisor for the project.

New interview process implemented for medicine school applicants

For the 2012-13 admissions cycle, the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs (OASA), University of Nevada School of Medicine, implemented an Applicant Interview Interaction Day program between October 2012 and January 2013. Features of day included interviews on either Las Vegas and Reno campuses, information about the school, interactions with current medical students, informational sessions about curriculum and financial aid along with semi-blind interviews with admissions committee members and medical students.

"The interview experience is an important part of the medical school application process, and our office determined that an investment in our applicants would ultimately benefit the school in the quality of our student body," said Kris Nelson, M.A., director of student services and admissions, School of Medicine. "We designed the day to provide interviewees a variety of opportunities to learn more about us - our approach to medical education, our community, our facilities, and our school - and for us to learn as much as possible about them."

The Office of Admissions and Student Affairs followed-up with each applicant to encourage continuing engagement and requested completion of a survey. The highlighted results of the survey are as follows:

  • As of January 11, 2013, 219 applicants were interviewed on the Las Vegas and Reno campuses. There was a 60% response rate to the survey
  • 99% responded that the applicant interview day helped the applicant learn more about the school of medicine.
  • 98.5% responded that the applicant interview day increased their desire to attend the school of medicine.
  • 98.5% responded that the applicant interview day helped them understand the admissions process and time-line of the school of medicine.

More information on Applicants Admissions Interview Day.

Student abstract accepted for award

Julie Thai, MS 2014, was selected as a winner of a subspecialty award for her abstract "Documentation and Recognition of Abnormal Blood Pressure in Children" and presented it as a poster and oral presentation at the 2013 Western Regional Meetings.

Second-year student has abstract accepted for presentation

Angelina Vera, MS 2015, has had an abstract entitled "Augmented Reality Telementoring (ART) Platform: A Randomized Controlled Trial to Assess the Efficacy of a New Surgical Education Technology" accepted for presentation at the 2013 SAGES meeting in Baltimore this April.

Resident, student have work selected for presentation

In the pediatrics department, the following student and resident had their work accepted for presentation at the 2013 Western Regional Meetings. Third-year resident Shilpa Shahani, M.D.'10, will present her abstract "Awareness of sickle cell genotype among Nigerians in the United States" and Shahani and Krystle Tuano, MS14 will co-present "State Health Department Handling of Sickle Cell Trait Results Identified Through the Newborn Screening Programs."

Bierkamper winners announced

Two students prevailed over more than two dozen peer entries at the 30th Annual George Bierkamper Student Research Convocation held last month. Del Ray Jackson, Jr., a graduate student in the lab of Josh Baker, took first place in the graduate student category for his presentation entitled "Factors Beyond Detachment Kinetics that Influence Unloaded Shortening Velocities of Muscle" while Tenille Smith, a third-year medical student enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. program, earned top honors in the medical student category for her work with Raphael Guzman, M.D., of Switzerland, entitled "Human Embryotic-Derived Neural Stem Cell Treatment Promotes Myelination, Oligodendrocyte Maturation, and Functional Recovery In a Model of Cerebral Palsy."

Jeff Dorrity
Jeff Dorrity MS4, utilizes " Mr. Potato Head" in a medical team building exercise. Photo by Edgar Antonio Nunez

Fourth year medical students help with Las Vegas recruiting and outreach activities

The University of Nevada School of Medicine Admissions and Student Affairs Office in Las Vegas has been utilizing fourth year medical students with their community outreach and recruiting efforts. At the Northwest Career and Technical Academy they taught suturing techniques to high school seniors and at East Valley Career and Technical Academy they facilitated a Medical Team Building workshop for high school freshman in addition to an infectious disease clinical case study to seniors.

Residents and med students win awards at ACP Nevada Chapter abstract competition

Congratulations to the following University of Nevada School of Medicine residents and students who each took first place at the recent American College of Physicians Nevada Chapter abstract competition:

  • Faisal Siddiqui, Internal Medicine resident, Reno residency - 1st place for resident clinical vignette - Osteonecrosis of Bilateral Femoral Heads after Short Term Steroid Use
  • Kasaiah Makam, PGY3, Internal medicine resident, Las Vegas residency - 1st place for resident research Diagnostic Utility of CTA Chest in "PE Unlikely" Patients
  • Dalia Hawwass, MS4- 1st place for student clinical vignette - Diabetes Mellitus Type 1.5: Flatbush Diabetes
  • Krystle Tuano - MS3- 1st place for student research, State Health Departments Handling of Sickle Cell Trait Results Identified Through the Newborn Screening Programs

Two students match early with the military

Congratulations to two fourth-year medical students who participated in the military residency early match program and recently learned where they will be doing their residency programs.

William Alex Stevens matched at Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA in family medicine, and Garrett Norton matched in anesthesia with the U.S. Air Force, at San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium/Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, TX.

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