The University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine (UNR Med), is launching a new department of surgery to keep pace with the high level of interest in surgical careers, and provide all medical students with foundational skills.
Medical students receive enhanced hospital-based and office education at Renown Health, the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System and surgeons offices throughout Reno.
The new department will build on the patient care and on-site surgical training received by third-year medical students, an especially critical step for UNR Med students choosing careers in surgery, including general surgery and surgical specialties such as orthopedic surgery, otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), plastic surgery, neurosurgery and urology.
Clerkship training for medical students is hands-on and includes patient care in the hospital and in clinics, pre-operative and post-operative care, assisting in the operating room and management of patients in acute care settings.
Dr. James Harris, senior member of Western Surgical Group, the largest multispecialty surgical group in northern Nevada, and Dr. Lori Rawson, chief of surgery at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, have been named UNR Med department of surgery co-chairs.
Harris, the founding clerkship director for UNR Med’s Reno-based surgery clerkship, has previous experience as a surgical residency program director and was chief of the division of surgery at Greenville Hospital Systems in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a fellowship-trained surgical oncologist and serves as Renown Cancer Institute’s chair of the Cancer Committee and medical director of Cancer Quality Services and Accreditation. He is a member of the Commission on Cancer (COC), a national program with the American College of Surgeons, and is currently COC vice chair of the Accreditation Committee and member of the Program Review Subcommittee. Harris is the state chair for Cancer for Nevada. He completed his medical degree at Wake Forest University and general surgery residency at the University of Southern California Medical Center. He completed fellowship in surgical oncology at City of Hope in Duarte, California and has been a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.) for more than 25 years.
Rawson is a practicing urologist who joined the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System in 2009.
Soon after arriving at the VA, She became chief of surgery - a post she continues today in addition to serving as acting designated education officer. She is a graduate of the VA’s executive leadership programs, including the VA Leadership Development Institute and the VA Health Care Leadership Development programs.
Rawson has been actively involved in local and national VA collaborations to improve delivery of health care to veterans. She completed her medical degree and urology residency at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California.
“Under the leadership of Drs. Harris and Rawson, we are delivering one of the most comprehensive core medical education experiences to our third-year students through the new department of surgery and in-hospital training,” said University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Dean Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. “The goal of this initiative is to provide a sound basic education in surgical principles to all UNR Med medical students, as well as encourage those students who choose careers in surgery to be the very best surgeons who will eventually practice in northern Nevada, our rural communities and our state.”
Dr. Karin Klove will serve as the department’s selectives director. Klove is a general surgeon who completed her medical degree, internship and residency at the University of Southern California.
Two clerkship directors, Dr. Mitzi Miller at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System and Dr. Joe Uccelli at Renown Health, will lead the expansion of the academic program at these and other clinical sites, and work closely with the surgical faculty in northern Nevada to ensure students receive a comprehensive clinical experience. Miller is a general and thoracic surgeon who completed her medical degree at Creighton University School of Medicine Omaha, Nebraska; her residency at OHSU in Portland, Oregon and her fellowship at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, UK. Uccelli is a trauma and critical care physician who is a member of the Western Surgical Group. He completed his medical degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine; his residency at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona and his fellowship at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The launch of a new department of surgery and department co-chairs is part of UNR Med’s strategic plan which includes expanding its 4-year curriculum as a northern Nevada-based medical school.