Nevada takes first step toward adding medical school at UNLV

CARSON CITY — A memorandum of understanding has been signed by the Nevada System of Higher Education, its two universities and the University of Nevada School of Medicine to develop a full-scale medical school in Southern Nevada.

The new partnership will start the process of establishing full four-year tracks of medical education at the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which will lead to an independent allopathic medical school campus at the Southern Nevada institution. The agreement was signed Wednesday.

“Increasing the medical education and health care options for Nevadans has always been a top priority for the Nevada System of Higher Education,” Chancellor Dan Klaich said. “I’m proud of the collaboration between our two universities and their efforts to bring these long-discussed plans from the drawing board to reality.”

UNR operates the University of Nevada School of Medicine, where students complete their core classes in Reno and can complete their clinical training in Reno and Las Vegas.

UNLV last month announced a campaign to raise more than $500 million to help finance Southern Nevada’s first medical school, an on-campus football stadium-entertainment center and other campus improvements.

Talk of adding a medical school has been around for years, and Mark Doubrava, a Las Vegas eye doctor and state university regent, has championed a med school at UNLV. Advocates of a UNLV medical school argue it’s needed to alleviate chronic doctor shortages, raise the quality of medical care, draw more federal research dollars and enhance medical tourism.

But it will be a long-range goal. The new fundraising campaign will take seven to 10 years, Bill Boldt, vice president for university advancement, said last month.

The collaboration will lead to the development of two medical school campuses, in Las Vegas and Reno, initially operating under the University of Nevada School of Medicine accreditation, which will lead to two four-year medical schools, affiliated with UNLV and UNR, respectively.

“This Memorandum of Understanding is in concert with our vision to expand the medical education campus and graduate medical education in Southern Nevada,” UNR President Marc Johnson said.

“It affirms the shared commitment to collaborate across the institutions of the Nevada System of Higher Education and clarifies the sequential goals to be met. The ultimate goal is to best apply our resources and steward the investment placed in our organizations to result in improved medical care, health care services and quality of life for Nevadans.”

The memorandum will be presented to the Nevada Board of Regents for approval at their Dec. 5-6 meeting at UNLV where next steps will be discussed.

“We’ve known for a long time that it is imperative that we build the health care capacity of Southern Nevada,” said UNLV President Neal Smatresk.

“This collaborative agreement is a substantial step forward and offers a path that effectively utilizes the resources of two great institutions to address our critical needs in health care.”

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.