This afternoon 63 fourth-year medical students at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) graduated as northern Nevada's newest physicians. The class of 2019 received the degree of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) at a hooding ceremony at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno.
The ceremony marked the completion of undergraduate medical education for the medical students, who now enter residency training. The hooding ceremony, symbolic of passing the guard from one generation of doctors to the next, recognizes those graduating students with MD degrees. The students received their academic hoods and recited the Physician's Oath, affirming their commitment to the medical profession. With the oath, graduates acknowledged the high standards of performance and ethical behavior to which each physician aspires at every stage of their professional career.
This year's UNR Med commencement speaker was Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which represents the nation's medical schools, teaching hospitals, and academic societies.
A distinguished physician, educator, and medical scientist, Dr. Kirch spoke on the need to transform the nation's health care system and how academic medicine can lead change across medical education, research and patient care. He offered advice to the graduates, urging them to dedicate themselves to improving the health of their patients and their communities. "I hope you will find the courage to make good on our ethical obligations and to never lose the sense of doing your part and creating a better, healthier society," said Kirch. "Our profession needs you and our nation needs you."
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States may experience a shortfall of up to 55,200 primary care physicians by the year 2032.
Nevada reflects this shortfall ranking No. 48 in the U.S. in the number of physicians per capita, according to a 2017 UNR Med Health Policy Report. For primary care physicians, it ranks 50th.
Ensuring graduating medical students have access to graduate medical training programs for residencies and fellowships is crucial to addressing the physician deficit. This year's graduating class continues UNR Med's tradition of placing graduates in some of the nation's most competitive residency programs, including in Reno and Las Vegas, with students entering a wide array of specialties. Approximately 27% of UNR Med students are staying in Nevada for some part of their residency training, and 43% matched in primary care, which includes family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology.
"UNR Med is dedicated to increasing the number of physicians in Nevada by educating more medical students, retaining them as residents and ultimately as practicing physicians," said UNR Med Dean, Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. "We're thrilled six UNR Med graduates will be staying in northern Nevada and 16 students have matched throughout the state for some portion of their graduate medical education training. The fact that students want to train in Nevada supports our goal of training physicians who recognize the health care needs in our community and are committed to staying or coming back to Nevada. This is a major component of our community-based and community-engaged curriculum model."
Residency training location is a strong indication of where physicians will likely set up their medical practices following completion of residency and has strong implications for the future availability of health care professionals in a given area.
Graduating medical student and Class of 2019 President Timothy Grunert said he couldn't be more excited to begin his medical career in Reno. "I was born and raised in northern Nevada and am incredibly lucky and excited to have the opportunity to practice family medicine in Reno. My interests are in health advocacy and policy development, so I'm looking forward to giving back to the communities that supported my growth and success. Reno is home, and I cannot wait to start my residency here at UNR Med Family Medicine," said Grunert.
Today's hooding ceremony marked the conclusion of UNR Med's year-long, community-wide celebration of 50 years of excellence in medical education. Nevada's first public medical school has educated more than 3,500 students, residents and fellows since it was founded in 1969.