This week, the long-awaited School of Medicine opened at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), welcoming Southern Nevada’s inaugural class of future physicians into its medical program.
“We’d like to extend a big congrats to the 60 medical students who are beginning their journey at UNLV this week,” commented Jared Fisher, 2018 candidate for governor of Nevada. “My wife Heather and I both attended UNLV and are so appreciative of the fantastic education we received there. We are excited for these hard-working men and women and look forward to welcoming them to the UNLV alumni family.”
Plans to attract more medical students to Southern Nevada have been underway since the mid-2000s, but it wasn’t until 2013, when the education board authorized the creation of an allopathic medical school at UNLV—Southern Nevada’s first—that the vision finally began to become a reality.
In comments reported in the Las Vegas Review Journal, Regent Mark Doubrava, M.D., chair of the Health Sciences System Committee, explained how the new school might begin to attract more doctors to Southern Nevada. According to Dr. Doubrava, it’s common for doctors to remain in the area where they attended medical school and completed their residency. This is because by the time medical students have completed their program, they’ve formed connections and put down roots in the community and are therefore more likely to accept jobs locally than uproot and start over again in a new state.
Thus a medical school in Clark County, could, over time, spell good news for Southern Nevada’s doctor shortage problem.
Why Nevada has a Doctor Shortage
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US states have, on average, approximately 272 doctors per 100,000 residents. In Nevada, however, that number falls below the national average at just 198 doctors per 100,000 residents. Furthermore, when primary-care physicians to patient ratios are taken into account, Nevada ranks 48th in the nation, reports the Las Vegas Sun.
One of the biggest reasons behind the shortage in Southern Nevada may have to do with the population boom. Since the 1980s, Clark County’s population has quadrupled, and while the boom has also brought more doctors to the valley, the increase hasn’t been enough to match the flood of new residents.
Another reason for the shortage, cites the Las Vegas Sun, is the lack of residency and fellowship programs. While medical students may come to Nevada to earn their degree, they leave for their residency training and frequently do not return. In fact, according to 2015 statistics provided by UNR’s Medical School, as many as 90 percent of med students move out of state to finish their residences and fellowships, but only 40 percent return.
Why Fixing the Shortage is Important
A doctor shortage forces patients onto waitlists and causes chaos in emergency rooms. It also hurts the economy because if patients can’t find a doctor to see them locally, they’ll seek treatment in other cities or states instead.
The Fisher for Nevada campaign is excited to see the positive impacts the new school will have on Clark County’s economy in the coming years. Las Vegas City officials expect the program will bring an estimated 4,000 new jobs to the city by 2020.
About FisherForNevada.com—Fisher for Nevada is the official campaign of Jared Fisher, 2018 candidate for Governor of Nevada. Jared is running for a Healthy Nevada—a platform with a focus on a diversified economy, strong education system, and renewable energy resources. Follow Jared on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates from the campaign as well as information on the laws, policies and news affecting Nevadans.