Despite Need for Doctors, Med School Grads are Fleeing Nevada

The vast majority of physicians who graduate from the University of Nevada School of Medicine are leaving the state do their residency training elsewhere, prompting officials to call for state funding to reverse the trend.

Just nine of the 52 physicians graduating this year are continuing their medical education training in the state.

In the past five years, only 39 of 257 graduates stayed in Nevada to complete their training, according to the Association of American Medical Schools.

Overall, Nevada's physician-to-population ratio ranking is 46th in the country and is last when it comes to physicians in residency training per population among states with medical schools.

"People don't understand it's not where they get their education. It's where they do their residency training. That's the jurisdiction that they seem to stay in and open their practices or join a hospital," said Steve Sisolak, a Nevada System of Higher Education regent.

"This exemplifies the need for a Health Sciences Center. We need to get the private hospitals working on the same page," Sisolak said.

The idea behind the Health Sciences Center, which is only in the conceptual stage, is to connect the higher education system's eight institutions and establish a relationship between them and Nevada's
private hospitals.

The goal is to standardize and expand medical training, such as residency programs.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has proposed putting $110 million toward the Health Sciences Center, while the Nevada System of Higher Education had been asking for $200 million.

The state's legislative session is in its final days. To date, there is no word on how, or if, the center will get any funding.

Miriam Bar-on, associate dean of the medical school's graduate program, said certain specialty doctors are needed in Nevada and
that means setting up residency programs.

"It would be lovely to offer residency programs for ENT (ear, nose and throat), radiology, pathology, orthopedics, urology and anesthesiology," Bar-on said. "These are specialties that are in short supply in Nevada."

Only five hospitals in Reno and Las Vegas offer residency programs through the School of Medicine: University Medical Center, Sunrise Hospital, Mike O'Callaghan Federal Hospital, Renown Regional Medical Center and the Iannis A. Lougaris VA Medical Center.

Valley Hospital Medical Center has its own residency training program, but it accepts only doctors of osteopathic medicine, said Dr. John McDonald, dean of the School of Medicine.

None of the St. Rose Dominican Hospital's medical facilities have residency programs, officials say.

Sunrise Hospital is the only hospital within the Sunrise Health family to offer residency programs.

"They have to come on board," McDonald said, referring to private hospitals creating residency programs. "We also need more funding from the Legislature."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)