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January 25, 2015

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Nevada Wonk

Chris Giunchigliani: Southern Nevada needs a medical school

Chris Giunchigliani met with a group of doctors, nurses and medical researchers Tuesday to brainstorm ideas for improving health care in Las Vegas.

They came to two conclusions: Southern Nevada needs a medical school, and it wouldn't be difficult to establish one.

But like much in Nevada, it all hinges on politics.

"When we started talking about this in the Legislature in the 70s, we were outfoxed by the North," said UNLV Regent Jack Schofield, who attended the roundtable and supports the proposal. "As long as Bill Raggio was in there, we'd never get a medical school down south. But now he's out."

Giunchigliani, who is running for Las Vegas mayor, and the doctors agreed that it would be relatively easy to establish a medical school here.

UNLV already has a dental school with professors that could train medical students. The classroom curriculum for each is nearly identical.

The second step would be requiring the state medical school's dean to live in Southern Nevada. Both the Clark County Commission and the Board of Regents will discuss such a mandate next month.

As for money, late UNR President Milton Glick said before he died that the university set aside $20 million to $30 million in capital funding to create a Southern Nevada medical school.

Giunchigliani and the doctors suggested the money be used to develop a housing complex for medical students and residents, as well as a cadaver center, physician's assistant program, dialysis center and other medical ventures that could turn a profit.

Every medical student that attends UNR has to do at least a portion of their clinical rotations in Las Vegas. Southern Nevada has housing stock to spare, the doctors argued, and dorm-style living would foster a sense of community among the students, keeping them from relocating.

"Once you establish roots, you're not going to leave," said panelist Michael Hill, who will start medical school at UNR in the fall.

A medical school in the south would also ease the burden on emergency rooms as medical students could staff clinics and help treat uninsured patients. Training programs for physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners would pay for themselves with tuition revenue.

Giunchigliani said a relatively small start-up fund could leverage bonds to create a world-class medical campus.

"It's the will" that's missing, she said.

Advocates hope a tweaked approach in arguing the merits of a Las Vegas medical school will make this latest round of bargaining successful.

"If you don't threaten UNR and explain that we can have them both and work together, it could be embraced," Giunchigliani said.

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  1. I don't see any reason for another public medical school in this state. If we need doctors it is far cheaper to hire them from other states or from the private medical schools here or the public school up in Reno.

    Building a public medical school in Las Vegas is nothing more than an ego boost.

  2. Gibbons is anti-business: as usual, he pushes a point that goes against economic and business development in our city. These right-wingers are so wrong-headed and blinded by ideology that they push agendas that are bad for business and the economy.

    The medical school proposal: for years, the UNR medical school and its relationship to UMC has been difficult, costly to the county, and not very beneficial to UMC. It's like a lot of what happens in Nevada: the South pays and the North carries more than its fair shair of funds and benefits away.

    What is being proposed is to use UMC's full range of resources and field medicines for training medical students in a new and innovative hub for medical advancement: this will link to the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Research, to Comprehensive Cancer Centers and the Cancer Institute, and will generate many new research ventures and businesses in Las Vegas and Clark County directly related to its fast-growing demographic (seniors) who need better medical care. It would be a great step to build a fine medical school in Las Vegas. This step would also help to fund UMC from other sources (grants and research) than the county. And it would help to diversify our economy. About time!

  3. Population density alone would seem to argue that a medical school should be located here if the argument being made is that doctors will stay where they learn.

    The only thing I question is the statement that parts of the operation could turn a profit. That simply isn't going to happen. But even so, that should not be a determining factor.

  4. "Dr" Unger,

    Of course I'm not pro-business, I'm pro-everyone - that is why I prefer to NOT have government picking winners and losers in society. Why do you like shelling out millions of dollars to well connected fat cats?

    That said, their is little to no evidence that spending additional dollars on higher education will boost our economic output. In fact, as I've shown several times, higher education is now correlated with weaker economic growth (Vedder, University of Ohio) and has no correlation to unemployment rates or even migration rates.

    Boftx, if doctors stay where they learn there would be no doctors in Vegas. Here is the big secret....DOCTORS GO WHERE THE JOBS ARE! Just like anyone else.

    Building a medical school is just for big egos and well connected fat cats.

  5. Building a medical school in Las Vegas, via UNLV or another institution, linked to UMC will solve two problems: improving quality of care in Las Vegas, and easing UMC's financial difficulties. Also: increasing the quality of care in Las Vegas will help to attract more retirees to our community.

    This is a pro-business stance. And a perfect example of how a university and business can work together to impact a community positively.

    And here goes with new facts just released by the Office of Business and Economic Research (the group that does the economic forecasting for our city, relied upon by business and government):

    UNLV's direct economic impact 2009: $525 million for the Las Vegas area economy.

    Multiplier effect of direct ecomonic impact: an additional $623 million in economic benefit.

    Total contribution to Southern Nevada's economy in 2009: $1.15 billion dollars.

    These are measurable facts. Not hyperbole, not bogus theories. Economists can go out and crunch these numbers, and they do not lie.

    Remember: cutting higher education will have a negative impact directly proportional to the positive benefits cited above.

    There's a reason why the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce for the first time in its history advocates increasing revenue to support higher education; and why the local banking community does; why so many businesses do: they see the same numbers. Time to give yourselves the news: these right-wing ideologues are out to kill the Las Vegas economy by their rants against education.

    Time to shout them down. Education is the key!

  6. We already have private medical schools in southern Nevada. And no, this in no way is a public-private partnership. If we need more doctors we can simply import them from other states.

    Economic impacts are often meaningless by definition. Often the reports assume not value added but that every dollar of goods and service is produced in the area from raw material to finished good. Obviously the dell computer UNLV bought was not designed and manufactured in Las Vegas, Nevada but often the reports assume this out of necessity.

    The multiplier effects can also be nonsensical. Its based on estimations that often have no basis in reality (and they change all the time. Basically these economists are predicting the weather after the fact but they only know the outcome not all the variables that went into producing the outcome). In other words, its just guesswork.

    Finally, these reports rarely calculate the economic impact of doing something else (money has alternative uses after all). In fact, your statement that cutting higher education will have a negative impact on the state is fallacious at best (given what we know). You're basically assuming that the dollars spent on higher education will be spent on higher education or vanish into thin air. That, of course, is a silly assumption.

    Btw, could you provide a link to these reports?

  7. It's all about diversification. A medical school in So Nevada is a good idea because it can be the start of hi-tech medical businesses, services and research facilities and bring a better education system.

    Until we realize that we are a first class city and we need all of the things a first class city should have and deserve, we will never be able to compete with others. We want businesses to move here, but we offer a poor education system for employees to advance their careers and equally as bad for their children to receive a solid education.

    This is a sound proposal with big benefits and we need to start moving forward.

  8. As a former health care provider who worked with UNR medical students on rotation in the South, I think a medical school in the southern part of the state makes perfect sense from business, health care delivery, and research perspectives.

    UNLV conducts the majority of our health-based research. Let them work with the students here in the south. We would save a fortune in external costs by ramping up our own clinical research teams. That would also advance our position as a developing leader in health care delivery and R&D.

    In medicine, there is academic and there is community based practice. The community practices render the care. But if you're trying to be a world class health care center, you MUST have a working partnership with academia. And it just doesn't work if that partnership is 10 hours away from where you are.