Approval of new pediatric physician residency program helps improve care for children and families in Nevada

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) and Renown Health are pleased to announce accreditation of a new three-year pediatric residency program with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The inaugural cohort of pediatric specialists will begin next summer, in July 2023. The new residency will help shape future pediatric practice—and fill a state and state physician shortage. For a period of three years, four newly trained doctors are selected each year for a total of twelve residents.

“Creating a pediatric residency program for our community has been a dream for more than five years,” said Max Coppes, MD, Ph.D., MBA, former Nell J. Redfield Chair in Pediatrics at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and Chief Pediatrician at Renown Children’s Hospital. “Currently, UNR Med students interested in becoming a pediatrician must leave the field to pursue their residency elsewhere. The Pennington Foundation paved the way for this program, which will create a pipeline of much-needed pediatricians for our state — particularly underserved and rural areas — to provide quality, affordable care to at-risk children and families in Nevada.”

The vision of expanding pediatric services into a full-fledged children’s hospital with a robust academic department of pediatrics in Reno began in 2014 when Renown Health and UNR Med agreed to hire an academic pediatrician to serve as both the Chair of Pediatrics at UNR Med and the should be chief physician of the renowned children’s hospital. The Nell J. Redfield Foundation donated $1.5 million to this initiative and expressed hope that a pediatric residency program would be established for the community. After recruiting Dr. Max Coppes for this role in 2016, the William N. Pennington Foundation recognized the need for improved care and expertise in pediatrics and donated $7.5 million to Renown Children’s Hospital to expand the William N. Pennington Fund for Advanced Pediatric Care set up . Through these gifts, 100,000 area children now have access to more than 15 specialist pediatricians, including those specializing in oncology, orthopedics, pulmonology, emergency medicine, urology and other specialties previously lacking in the community, as well as a pediatric emergency room , the pediatric intensive care unit and modern health services at Renown Children’s Hospital. Prior to 2016, approximately 30 percent of all pediatric patients had to leave northern Nevada to receive the specialized care they needed. Thanks to donor support, Renown estimates that 97% of all pediatric patients and their local families can receive both general and specialty pediatric care. The closest state children’s hospital is 7 hours or 438 miles away in Las Vegas.

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dr Melissa Piasecki, Acting Dean of UNR Med and Chief Academic Officer of Renown, said: “Residencies are specialty training programs for physicians after they graduate from medical school. Before becoming licensed physicians, medical school graduates spend three years or more educating and learning from more experienced ‘treating’ physicians.” She adds, “This new residency is a tremendous step forward for the UNR Med and Renown Health affiliation – and for our entire community. This pediatric residency program fosters a mutual commitment to recruit and retain qualified and compassionate physicians and healthcare professionals, improve access to healthcare, and invest in clinical research that improves the health of this generation and the next. Within the UNR Med-Reown affiliation, we have created an integrated Graduate Medical Education Consortium Council (GME-CC) to provide strategic oversight and growth of residency programs within the affiliation. In this agreement, UNR Med is the sponsoring institution for accreditation and Renown Health and the VA are the clinical education partners. The process went so smoothly; Within six months of joining, the GME-CC voted to support a new pediatric residency. This is a great addition to our existing resident physicians at UNR Med, which include family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and provides a great educational opportunity for our students in pediatrics.”

Nevada’s Shortage; Ranked 45th for physicians and 47th in the US for pediatricians.

Nevada faces a serious shortage of medical workers and ranks 45th nationally for active physicians per 100,000 people. The shortage of medical staff is particularly critical for pediatricians, with Nevada ranking 47th in the country with fewer than 10 pediatricians per 100,000 people. The northern Nevada community is growing rapidly and Washoe County is facing an additional shortage of pediatricians as local physicians near retirement.

“This new residency is an opportunity to train the next generation of pediatricians who want to continue providing care in northern Nevada,” said Kristina Deeter, MD, MBA, FAAP, interim UNR-Med Chair in Pediatrics and Chief Physician at Renown Children’s Hospital . “Our community continues to grow. This new pediatric residency program will allow Nevada to have a supply of outstanding, compassionate physicians now and into the future. With our exceptional team of existing paediatricians, pediatricians, medical teams and support staff, we strive to provide our trainees with a comprehensive and rewarding educational experience.”

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“It really is a dream come true. We are indebted to the extensive team that set up the structure, recruited faculty to support the training program and successfully recruited a program director, Dr. Caroline Barangan, and an Associate Program Director, Dr. Shilpi Garg, a 2012 UNR Med Alumna (’12 ),” said Lawrence Duncan, MS, VP and Administrator of Renown Women & Children’s Hospital. “Between now and the summer of 2023, we will add the fundamental elements needed to ensure the success of the program, including recruiting a Chief Resident, ongoing faculty development and ensuring that all recruiting, teaching, mentoring and mentoring components are in place of Residents are present.”

“One of the major obstacles to increasing the number of physicians to serve our growing community is the relative lack of pediatric residency programs in the state and the lack of a program in northern Nevada. Residency programs in pediatrics recruit and train medical graduate students pursuing residency training to become pediatricians,” says Caroline Barangan, MD, Pediatric Residency Program Director, Renown Health and UNR Med that students who complete residency tend to stay and practice in the communities where they completed their residency training program. Over 75% of those who graduate from medical school and reside in the same place stay to practice in that community.”

“In August, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology announced the need to expand the state’s medical workforce in specialties of high need and announced funding for five medical residency and fellowship programs graduate education, including $870,433 for the UNR Med Pediatrics Residency Program,” said Christine Bosse, chief government affairs officer at Renown Health. “Nevada produces more undergraduate medical students than there are residencies and scholarships available. Additionally, Nevada lacks scholarships in some subject areas of interest to students. As a result, many highly qualified students have to leave the state at a time when they are beginning the practical application of their advanced education in order to pursue further education. We appreciate that the GME grant funding will support the state and our community in attracting, training and retaining more physicians to Nevada.”

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“This new community-based program will provide residents with a strong foundation in primary care pediatrics as well as a broad, in-depth exposure to all pediatric sub-specialties. This will produce graduates who are equally well-prepared for careers in general pediatric practice, serving the state’s rural and underserved communities, or in academia,” added David Carlson, MD, UNR Med Associate Dean, Graduate Medical Education; Designated Institutional Officer added, “Through the program, pediatric residents spend their 36-month residency focused on pediatric care and complete a primary care-focused clinical training program with rotations that allow them to work in both inpatient and outpatient settings while caring for children area with attending pediatricians and pediatric specialists at Renown Children’s Hospital.”

“The Pediatrics Residency Program is a wonderful opportunity to continue a tradition of academic excellence alongside Renown Health’s clinical excellence,” said Brian Sandoval, President of the University of Nevada, Reno. “This is another way our affiliation signed in 2021 to establish Nevada’s first fully integrated healthcare system will help expand clinical education and clinical research programs and improve access to clinical care for all Nevada residents.”

“We are proud to partner with UNR Med to bring this new residency program to our community,” said Thomas Graf, MD, interim chief executive officer of Renown Health Care Leader and our shared goal of improving the health of our community . We are fortunate to have the strong infrastructure needed to create this program and a team of highly skilled physicians capable of training the next generation of pediatricians.”

For the 2023 application cycle, UNR Medicine will participate in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) and encourages applicants to visit the UNR Med GME website for more information.

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