Throughout the Las Vegas Valley, clubs and associations hold monthly meetings with speakers. One of those associations is the Clark County Association of Health Underwriters (CCAHU). The insurance brokers who sell health care policies in the valley join the association “to promote ethical practices and generate awareness of health insurance industry issues through education, legislation, advocacy and involvement.”
The June meeting of the association, held at Sierra Gold on South Jones Blvd. in Las Vegas, was a business meeting installing the next year’s officers and committee chairpersons, but it also featured a talk by Bruce Z. Morgenstern, M.D., Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at Roseman University of Health Sciences, College of Medicine. His talk was titled “And Then There Were THREE Medical Schools”.
Morgenstern was the perfect luncheon speaker, keeping to a tight schedule, but talking quickly and conveying a good deal of information, adding humor and showing illustrations that brought home the information.
The three medical schools in the topic included two new medical schools currently in the process of securing accreditation: one at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) and one at Morgenstern’s Roseman University. The third school is Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine which has been training doctors of osteopathy since 2004.
Why the need for more medical schools? Morgenstern presented figures noting that in the number of doctors per 100,000 people, Nevada is in “dire straights” when it comes to the number of available physicians. The state ranks 47th in the country. The number of psychiatrists ranks 49th.
He also pointed out that 25 % of Nevada’s current physicians are over 60 years of age.
Is it easy to establish more medical schools? Morgenstern explained that the cost to meet regulations, build and equip a new medical school ranges between $150 million and $1 billion, the higher figure coming when a medical campus also includes a hospital.
He talked about a medical career being one of “delayed gratification” in that the typical medical student first spends four years in college and four years in medical school. Then when the student has his M.D. degree, which Morgenstern defines as “mostly a doctor”, the average student has $183,000 in debt, and more education to come. Next is three to five years in a residency program and, possibly, additional years in specialty training. Morgenstern suggested that well-regarded neurosurgeon (and recent Presidential candidate) Ben Carson very likely was 35 or 36 years old before he completed all his training.
Both UNLV and Roseman, with proper accreditation, could see the first class of medical students enter training next August with the first graduating classes getting degrees in 2021.
Dr. Mark Penn, chancellor of Roseman University, also attended the meeting and answered a question from the audience regarding whether students educated at local medical schools would stay to practice in the area.
He cited the following information:
*If a student gets their medical education in Nevada, the chances of him or her practicing in Nevada is about one in three.
* If a student does residency in Nevada, but not medical school, the chances of him or her practicing in Nevada is one in two.
* If a student goes to medical school in Nevada and does his or her residency in Nevada, the chances of that physician staying in the state is about 65 percent.
Then again, Penn pointed out another problem, and that is Nevada’s overall education system and finding qualified students to apply to local medical schools, once they are all up in running.
He noted that last year 269 Nevada students applied to medical schools around the country. (Three times as many applications came from Utah.) Only one-third of the Nevada applicants were accepted. He said building a pipeline of students interested and qualified for a medical education is critical in coming years.
For readers unfamiliar with Roseman University of Health Sciences, the school was originally founded in 1991 by Dr. Harry Rosenberg as a pharmacy school. The university today has a College of Pharmacy, a College of Nursing, a College of Dental Medicine and offers a Masters of Business Administration and Pharmacy and Dental Continuing Education Programs. Roseman has campuses in Henderson and Summerlin, Nevada and in South Jordan, Utah. Roseman’s proposed College of Medicine has been approved as a candidate for accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), a major step forward in the development of a non-profit, private LCME-accredited medical school in Southern Nevada.