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UNLV medical school gets full accreditation in time for first grads

Updated February 19, 2021 - 4:01 pm

The UNLV School of Medicine announced Friday it has received full accreditation, a major milestone that clears the way for the school’s first graduating class to smoothly transition into their medical careers.

The accreditation was granted by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which oversees medical doctor education programs in the United States and Canada.

Typically, medical schools must be accredited in order for graduates to receive state board licensure. The UNLV school will graduate its first class of medical students in May.

Full accreditation also allows schools to apply for certain federal grants that they would not otherwise be eligible to receive.

The accreditation is great news and an important milestone for the medical school, Mark Doubrava, chairman of the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents, said via email to the Review-Journal.

“Once the students are notified of ‘full accreditation,’ I am sure there will be a collective sigh of relief as these students took a chance enrolling in a new medical school,” Doubrava said. “Their faith and confidence in the school paid off. Receiving full accreditation will be a tremendous boost in recruiting and attracting new students to enroll.”

March will mark eight years since the Board of Regents started planning for a new medical school, he said. Prior to its launch, Las Vegas was the largest metropolitan area in the country without an allopathic medical school.

“Full accreditation is an important milestone both for the university and the countless individuals who’ve dedicated so much to establish and build a thriving School of Medicine,” UNLV President Keith Whitfield said in a news release. “Today’s announcement is years in the making, and is a testament to the school’s faculty, staff, and exceptional future physicians who are committed to improving health care in Southern Nevada. To everyone who has supported our School of Medicine, we celebrate this achievement with you.”

Friday’s announcement concludes a three-step accreditation process. UNLV School of Medicine received preliminary accreditation in 2016, which allowed it start recruiting students, and then provisional accreditation in 2019 after submitting a self study and receiving a site visit to gauge whether it met 12 accreditation standards.

The medical education committee conducts three site visits during a medical school’s first four years, according to the news release. The university’s most recent visit was conducted virtually in October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school was already fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education for residencies and fellowships.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the medical school’s first permanent facility — a medical education building — took place in October. The approximately 135,000-square-foot facility on Shadow Lane in central Las Vegas is expected to open next year.

Nevada Health and Bioscience Corp. is overseeing the project and raising money to pay for the $125 million facility.

In his January State of the State address, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that $25 million in state funding for the project that was cut over the summer due to COVID-19-related budget impacts would be reinstated.

In total, the school has 240 medical students — 60 per class — and more than 300 residents and fellows. The new medical education building will accommodate a class size of up to 120 medical students in the future.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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