A new crop of doctors donned their white coats Friday in a welcoming ceremony for the Valley Health System’s first group of medical residents.
The inaugural class comprises 10 residents in the family medicine program and 16 in the general surgery program. They received physician-length white coats at Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center after completing orientation and will start seeing patients Monday under the guidance of attending physicians.
Chief Academic Officer Andrew Eisen said the goal for the new residency program is not only to address the shortage of medical professionals in Nevada in the short term but to give recent medical school graduates a chance to start their careers and stay in the state.
“Nationwide, data shows that where people start their residencies, they stay,” Eisen said.
The program already has attracted residents with international credentials.
Stephanie Cao, a graduate of Ross University Medical School in Barbados, said that she was cognizant of Nevada’s shortage of medical professionals when she applied to the Valley Health System’s program and that staying here after completing her three-year family medicine residency is a strong possibility.
She will start working in high-need areas of the city as part of the Valley Health System’s community health program. She said she was drawn to family medicine for the constant, steady nature of the work.
“I believe you should always treat your patients as you would treat your family,” she said.
Hamza Khan, a graduate of Aga Khan University Medical School in Pakistan, said he chose a surgery residency in Las Vegas because of the diversity of the city and a climate that reminds him of home.
He credited his mom for encouraging him to pursue health sciences and said it’s the adrenaline rush and high stakes that drew him to surgery.
“When they come to you, you’re almost losing them, and then you bring them back,” Khan said.
Surgery residents start on the job right away, rotating through operating rooms, simulations and classrooms during the five-year program.
A new program also offers an opportunity to make an impact in shaping the academic and operational aspects of the residency for the future, Khan said.
The residency programs were about five years in the making, Eisen said, and the hospital looked for candidates like Khan who wanted to help develop the programs.
Next up, the hospital system hopes to implement residency programs in emergency medicine and internal medicine and obstetrics.