By Jeff Gillan
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — Hello from the medical district, the headquarters of our medical community. Located here is the new Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, one way we’re trying to bring in more doctors.
Here’s another: At the UNLV med school Thursday, I meet U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen and her fellow Democrat, U.S. Rep. Susie Lee.
Rosen has introduced a bill in the Senate that would bring more medical residencies to underserved areas like Nevada. Lee is helping in the House.
“What this bill will do is bring those residencies here to places like the UNLV Medical School. And allow us to train doctors here. We know where doctors train, that’s often where they stay, that’s often where their careers start,” Rosen tells me.
Earlier this year, Rosen introduced the Physicians for Underserved Areas Act along with U.S. Sen. John Boozman, a Republican from Arkansas.
Residencies are a new doctor’s first real chance to practice medicine, and Nevada needs doctors.
The state ranks 48th in the nation in the number of primary care physicians and 50th in the number of general surgeons, according to numbers from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Residencies would help boost those numbers, says Wolfgang Gilliar, the dean of Touro University Nevada, which trains osteopathic doctors.
“If you are going to medical school, about 50 percent stay in the state, but if you go into the residency, about 75 to 85 percent stay where they do their residency,” Gilliar says.
Some young doctors who go to school here have to leave here, says Dr. Marc Kahn, the dean of UNLV’s med school.
“There are specialties that our medical school graduates can’t train in this state, like dermatology. We’re in the middle of the Sun Belt and we can’t train dermatologists in this state. We have an aging population and right now we don’t have a hematology-oncology training program in this state. We really have a long way to go,” Kahn said.
Nevada has just over 400 residencies. By comparison, New York state has 19,000, Kahn tells me.
“I am planning to stay,” says Dr. Tammy Flores, a third-year resident in internal medicine at UMC, who was at Thursday’s roundtable with Rosen and Lee.
Flores sees Las Vegas growing by leaps and bounds.
“For that reason primarily I’d like to stay because it’s where I’m most needed,” Flores tells me.