EDITORIAL: UNLV, Roseman medical school projects a boost for region

With all the negative news surrounding health care — the worsening Obamacare debacle at the forefront — it’s nice to see some positive prospects for the Las Vegas Valley’s medical sector. Two big projects are moving forward: a UNLV medical school and a Roseman University of Health Sciences medical school in Summerlin.

Roseman University is preparing to expand its Southern Nevada footprint after its Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan to develop an allopathic medical school — an institution that grants doctor of medicine (MD) degrees. During a Wednesday meeting with the Review-Journal editorial board, Roseman President Renee Coffman said the medical school would be housed inside the Nevada Cancer Institute Foundation’s 184,000-square-foot building near Town Center Drive and the Las Vegas Beltway. The school’s charter class would begin studies in the fall of 2017.

Roseman, a private, nonprofit university, already offers degrees in pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and business administration for its 1,500 students at campuses in Henderson and South Jordan, Utah, a Salt Lake City suburb.

The school’s announcement came about the same time the Nevada System of Higher Education advanced a plan to launch an allopathic medical school at UNLV. The Board of Regents on Dec. 5 approved an agreement that would expand the University of Nevada School of Medicine, based at UNR, until the UNLV campus is ready to break away and be fully independent.

Private, nonprofit Touro University operates the only medical school in Southern Nevada, which grants degrees in osteopathic medicine (DO). Dr. Mark A. Penn, who will be Roseman’s founding dean, believes the region can support three programs. “We look forward to collaboration,” he said.

Indeed, there is no getting around Southern Nevada’s severe doctor shortage. In 2011, Nevada had 200 physicians per 100,000 residents, sixth-worst among the states, well below the national average of 244 doctors per 100,000 people.

These two projects — one private, one public — would provide the valley with an economic boost and bolster its health care industry. It’s critical for the valley to first create and attract more residency and fellowship programs, lest all these potential new medical school graduates head elsewhere for their training and employment. And the proposed UNLV medical school will have to raise a significant amount of private money to be able to open. But the potential for more medical research, more doctors and better health care outcomes in the valley makes these projects especially promising. Here’s hoping they happen.

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