Five Honored for Their Contributions to Our Communities

At this year’s inaugural dinner, we presented two special awards: WCMS Community Service Awards were presented to Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine and to the members of the Clark County Medical Society. These were in addition to the President’s Award and the C.H. Woods Awards, which are presented annually.


WCMS Board Community Service Awards
This year the WCMS board decided that due to extraordinary events and effort, we wanted to recognize one individual and one group with special community recognition awards.

Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., is serving as the tenth dean of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and also as the second vice-president of the University of Nevada, Reno, Division of Health Sciences since July, 2011.

Prior to coming to Nevada, he spent more than 27 years in faculty and leadership posts at the University of Michigan, chairing family medicine for 25 years.
He has served in reviewer or editor roles for several medical journals, including his current service as a reviewer with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and deputy editor with Journal Watch. Dr. Schwenk has co-authored more than 130 research and clinical articles, book chapters and books, most of which focus on psychological aspects of medical practice.

When Dr. Schwenk came to Reno in 2011, I’m not entirely sure he knew exactly what he was getting into. For those of you who may not know, at the time the medical school for students was split with the first two years in Reno and the last two in Las Vegas. Because of the physician shortage in Nevada, there seemed to be a consensus on how to increase the number of medical school positions in the state by expanding undergraduate medical education in both the North and the South. After somewhat turbulent process, 6 years later, we now have a medical school here in the north where students will now stay here for their 3rd/4th years to get their clinical experience. In addition, compared to many “traditional” medical schools, the medical school here is much more integrated with existing community hospitals, physicians and other institutions. This has taken an incredibly amount of work, effort and political savvy. The WCMS board is excited about this opportunity and greatly appreciative of the work of Dr. Schwenk and UNR to help increase the pipeline of physicians in our community and combat our current physician shortage.


Clark County Medical Society
It’s a Sunday night, October 1. If you’re like me, you’re probably gearing up for the long week ahead. The next thing you hear is there’s an active shooter firing at concert goers who are there from all over the country. Over a 10-minute stretch, over 1100 rounds are fired at a crowd of over 22,000 people. By the end of the night, 58 people are dead, and 546 people are injured in the deadliest mas shooting by an individual in US history.

While obviously an incredibly devastating and tragic event, the response from the medical community in Clark County was truly incredible and inspiring. While Governor Sandoval signed an emergency order to allow out of state providers to assist in the aftermath, the physicians, hospitals, first responders, hospitals and medical staff were able to provide incredible care for all of these people. For those of you who are familiar with trauma care, this demonstrates the importance of preparation, planning and coordination that is needed. And while our medical communities plan and train for these types of events, actually having to go through them can also be emotionally traumatic for the physicians. Every time I read stories about the physician response in Las Vegas, it was a reminder of how important we are for our communities and how, even during the darkest times, physicians have the ability to provide care and comfort.


Presidential Service Award
This special honor is awarded by the outgoing WCMS President and is given to an individual, organization or company who over the past year has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Sherri Rice, executive director for Access to Health Care, is a dreamer who made her dream a reality. In 2006, Sherri decided to do something about the fact that too many people in Washoe County were uninsured. On the back of a cocktail napkin, she sketched out a shared responsibility health care model that allows people to get into see a physician for care. The shared access model remains at the heart of AHN, but in the following years the scope of services of AHN have grown. Since 2006, over 300,000 have had contact with AHN. She is someone who recognized a problem in our community and had the energy and drive to make things better. Sherri is also the first person to talk about how much support she gets from her AHN team and from the community but because of her initial vision, many people in our community have gotten the care they desperately needed.


Like most of you, we still care for a generation of older patients who were affected by polio- there’s still a few people left living in iron lungs because of polio. Unfortunately, some people in our society have short term memories and would rather believe “avocado” than the sum of the best scientists and physicians who have dedicated their careers to preventing disease. Leading that charge in Nevada is Heidi Parker from Immunize Nevada. Heidi battles every day to promote improving immunization rates in Nevada. This is not a glamorous job. Getting someone immunized and preventing a disease isn’t as high tech as a cutting-edge procedure or new medication. But the impact of getting people immunized is incredible. Along with getting scientifically accurate information out to the community, Heidi and her team work with providers, offices and other organizations to help get people immunized which we know improves the health
of our community.


C.H. Woods Award Presentation
This annual prestigious award is bestowed upon a society physician member who best demonstrates the art of medicine and who has the “magic touch” when it comes to caring for their patients. The award is named after the first president of WCMS. We feel this award represents our “People’s Choice Award” as it is the physician members who ultimately nominate the candidates. We are pleased to announce that this year’s recipient is Dr. Brian Juell.

Brian E. Juell, M.D., F.A.C.S. (Fellow of the American College of Surgeons) is a graduate of the University of Utah College of Medicine, and completed his General Surgery Residency at the University of Michigan. Dr. Juell is well regarded for his work with conditions of the breast. Other areas of special interest lie in abdominal exploration and repair, vascular disorders, colorectal procedures, advanced trauma and critical care – in which he is certified – and many other aspects of general surgery. Dr. Juell also specializes in Advanced & Robotic Hernia Repair and is a member of the Americas Hernia Society.

He is currently a member of the Southwest Surgical Congress, American Society of Breast Surgery and the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Juell is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

Dr. Juell is a member of the trauma panel at Renown Regional and a member of the surgical intensivist panel at Renown Regional Medical Center. He is also the current director for Renown’s Breast Cancer Center. He is the only surgeon in Northern Nevada certified in breast ultrasound by the American Societies of Breast Surgeons & Radiology.

Dr. Juell is the past Chief of Staff for Saint Mary’s and is on the Quality Improvement Committee for Prominence Health Plans. He is currently the President of Western Physicians Alliance. He is the Chairman of the Committee of Applicants for the Nevada (District 2) American College of Surgeons.

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