Plan calls for $26.7 million state funding request to launch UNLV medical school

UNLV is projected to require $26.7 million over two years from the state’s budget to make its proposed medical school a reality.

The funding figure was included in a business plan that Nevada Systems of Higher Education consultant Paul Umbach presented Friday to the Health Sciences Systems Committee, which includes representatives from UNLV and UNR. In addition to the state funding, which be used largely to hire physicians, scientists and support staff for the UNLV School of Medicine, the plan calls for the university to seek out local philanthropists to provide $100 million to build the school.

“My feeling is looking at the demographics from the donor community ... that there’s a comfort level that the state will not have to provide as much support in Southern Nevada,” Umbach said.

The $26.7 million in state funding would pay only to establish the UNLV program and help it become accredited. UNLV’s School of Medicine could potentially begin in 2017 and would have a class size of about 60 students.

If donated funding for the building falls short, UNLV School of Medicine planning dean Barbara Atkinson said the program could potentially use facilities at the Veteran Affairs Hospital.

The plan to establish the school also included an additional request for state funding to expand the UNR School of Medicine. The future of both schools are intertwined, Umbach said.

UNR is projected to ask for an $8 million increase in state funding over two years on top of its $30 million operating budget.

The funding is critical to create clinical opportunities for third- and fourth-year students to practice medicine in Reno, positions that currently only exist in Las Vegas. The growth is necessary to make room for the additional UNLV students who will need clinical opportunities to earn their degree.

University of Nevada School of Medicine needs to grow to ensure UNLV’s success.

“This is extraordinarily important, what we’re doing here,” said Thomas Schwenk, dean of University of Nevada School of Medicine. “If we do this right the state will be dramatically different eight or 10 years from now.”

NSHE board of regents will vote on Aug. 22 for a finalized budget it will then present to the governor. The committee plans to find ways to save more money in its request before that date.

UNLV president Don Snyder said it’s important to ask the Gov. Brian Sandoval for only what the universities need to create two medical schools during a time when the state’s budget remains tight.