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UNLV Putting Out The Welcome Mat For Inaugural Medical School Class



A rendering shows the plans for the UNLV school of medicine campus.

UNLV’s medical school welcomes its first students in July with high hopes but much remaining to be done.

The inaugural class of 60 is made up mostly of Nevada students or those connected to the state, said Dr. Barbara Atkinson, the medical school’s founding dean.

She said the class skews so heavily toward Nevadans by design: Enrolling people from Nevada increases the chances graduates will stay at the end of their education and, in turn, address the state’s doctor shortage. The entire first class of students received full scholarships paid for by medical school supporters.

Atkinson also said she is pursuing a deep-pocketed donor that can provide the $100 million needed to fund a planned nine-story medical school building that would be an anchor in the Las Vegas Medical District, which covers the area around University Medical Center.

“We need the big donor because we need a big medical education building,” Atkinson told KNPR's State of Nevada.

Atkinson said having the medical school on its own is estimated to generate $1.2 billion a year in economic benefit, but when it's combined with the medical district, it will create $3.6 billion. However, she reminded everyone that the benefits of the medical school from the expected economic boost to the increase in doctors will take time.

Support comes from

“It really will expand the number of doctors available in Nevada, over time. It takes time to do that,” she said.

Dr. Mark Doubrava is a university regent and a strong supporter of the medical school. He said that the medical school is still in its infancy. 

“I want everyone to remember that this medical school is basically seven months old that’s when it received its accreditation,” Doubrava said.

One of the big questions out there is still money. Besides the large donation Atkinson is looking for to fund the main building, she is looking for lots of smaller donations. Doubrava is already impressed with the amount of money raised for the school. Twenty-five full-ride scholarships for first three years of the school have been paid for by the Engelstad Family Foundation.

“I think it’s just phenomenal how much money has been raised and it is showing that the community really supports this medical school,” Doubrava said.

Until the big donor is found and the main building is built, the medical school is making use of existing UNLV buildings in the area. Atkinson says it will suit the schools' needs for a few years, but without a building, it won't be able to expand as fast as they would like. The plan is to have 120 students in four years when the school gets its full accreditation. 




Dr. Barbara Atkinson, UNLV medical school dean; Dr. Mark Doubrava, university regent

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UNLV Rendering
KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada