Southern Nevada medical school in the works

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada higher education officials have signed an agreement laying out the first steps toward establishing a long sought medical school in southern Nevada.

A memorandum of understanding announced Thursday was signed by leaders of UNR, UNLV, the Nevada School of Medicine and Nevada System of Higher Education.

University of Nevada, Reno, currently operates the Nevada School of Medicine. Students then receive clinical training in Reno and Las Vegas.

Under the plan, a Southern Nevada medical school will be established and operate initially under the existing School of Medicine’s accreditation.

The goal is to have two, four-year medical schools in the state, one affiliated with UNR and one with UNLV.

“The involved parties will focus on designing, financing and building a major facility to create full clinical and basic science teaching and research capacity in Las Vegas,” the memorandum said.

“The quality of life and economic development of the state are dependent on our ability to educate more medical students, train more residents and fellows in more specialties and subspecialties and improve the quality of care through clinical research,” said Thomas L. Schwenk, dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine. “This agreement is a huge step forward in accomplishing those goals.”

The memorandum adds that that making the southern medical school a reality “will require substantial incremental funding, over and above” current allocations for the existing medical school.

A report by a consulting firm and released this week by UNLV’s Lincy Institute estimated creating a new medical school would cost $68 million but would add thousands of jobs and contribute millions to the state economy, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

The Tripp Umbach report said collaboration between the two medical schools would support about 4,500 jobs in Reno and 8,000 jobs in Las Vegas by 2030.

But it also said 240 new residency positions will be required to provide advanced training for new medical school graduates, who often must go out of state for residency programs. Statistics indicate many medical school graduates who complete their schooling and residencies in the same state are more likely to remain in that state to practice medicine.

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