WCMS Dean’s Dispatch

Dr. Thomas Schwenk Dean of the School of Medicine and VP of Health Science
Dr. Thomas Schwenk Dean of the School of Medicine and VP of Health Science

By Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D.,
Dean of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

The School of Medicine held an extraordinary event on April 28, an event that was student-driven and community physician-focused. It was a first, at least for a long time, but it will not be the last!

We gathered at The Grove in south Reno to honor the critical contributions of community physicians and clinical teachers who have dedicated their time, their expertise and their patients to teaching the next generation of Nevada physicians.

Nearly 70 community faculty members turned out for the event hosted by the Office for Community Faculty, under the leadership of April Heiselt. We brought together the most precious resources of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine—our students and their teachers—to celebrate the magic of medical education and the process by which bright students become outstanding physicians.

The faculty members honored have taken medical students into their offices and operating rooms, and under their wings (in some cases for many years), to give them the most outstanding medical teaching possible. And more than just knowledge and skills are taught and learned. Perhaps most important is the mentorship, the career guidance, the support and the formation of professional attitudes and values that will be most important to the success of these students throughout their careers.

Keely Smith, Class of 2019, and the former physicians relations officer for the Student Outreach Clinic, spoke to the community physicians as the “heart of the medical school.” She said: “You continue to sacrifice your time and energy each semester… to allow us to continue on our journey to becoming physicians. When it becomes difficult, you absorb the inconvenience. You offer the insight, the guidance and the encouragement to move us through. You take on (these responsibilities) so that we can continue to move, to learn and to grow.”

The highlight of the event was a short video prepared by the students (with a little help from our outstanding media and events staff!) that said “thank you” in many different ways. It is well worth watching here ( and will be the highlight of your day.
If you ever wondered why you contribute to the education of our medical students, in all the many ways you contribute, this video will make it clear.
Several dozen medical students showed their appreciation by passing out gifted-wrapped lapel pins in the shape of a heart with the block “N” “Medicine” logo, and recognized their mentors as being “the heart of the medical school.”

This is just the beginning of what will be many ways that we support, thank, recognize and develop our critical resource of community physician faculty members who are so important to the success of the School of Medicine in improving health and health  care in Nevada.

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