Stated right in the vision statement of Clark County Medical Society (CCMS) is the fact that the organization is as much an advocacy and education group for patients as for physicians and professionals working in the healthcare field.
Chartered in 1955, CCMS is dedicated to advocating for physicians, patients and community health; to preserving the physician/patient relationship while encouraging delivery of quality healthcare in the community; to representing its members in health and economic matters; and to serving as a resource for continuing medical education.
“It’s important to us as physicians not just to stand together, but to collaborate to make sure that patients and our colleagues have access to the best health information that we can get them,” said Dr. Andrew Eisen, CCMS president.
Connections for Southern Nevadans
“When we look at community health needs, we have individual organizations, individual practitioners, trying to address what they see as needs of the community but each individual only sees what they see in scope of practice or volunteer work they do. [CCMS] allows both physicians to look at community needs and for the community to bring forth their needs in a forum where we can look at bigger picture rather than individual pieces,” said Dr. Deborah Kuhls, CCMS membership chair.
For example, with headlines tracking outbreaks of viruses like Zika, the public needs the best and newest information available and CCMS is a resource to help disseminate that information.
“People see it on the news and are frightened,” said Eisen. “So you talk to them and neither they nor anyone with whom they’ve been in contact have been to an area where Zika Virus is a problem, so then we can reassure them. On the other hand, if somebody is planning to travel, it’s good for us to get them the information about what they need to do to protect themselves, the risk of being bitten by a mosquito and the risk of contracting [the virus].”
One of the primary ways CCMS connects to the Southern Nevada community is by providing medical education and information. “From an educational standpoint, one of the accomplishments this year was that our Community Health and Public Relations Committee, which is charged with getting information and education out [to the public], created subcommittees on education, one focused on professionals and another on the lay public,” said Eisen.
The community outreach committee, chaired by Dr. Joseph Adashek, works on putting together medical education programs. CCMS members host town hall meetings, inviting people to come and talk about important subjects, said incoming CCMS president Dr. Souzan El-Eid, and for physicians, the society offers symposiums where they can earn continuing medical education credits. “We hosted a very successful marijuana symposium last year and right after a successful suicide prevention symposium,” said El-Eid.
The Nevada Psychiatric Association presents an annual event that people come from around the country to attend, organized by Dr. Lesley Dickson, one of the current CCMS executive council members.
The process for offering such programs should be streamlined with the completion of the CCMS building. “We are rebuilding the building. It’s going to have state-of-the-art telecommunications abilities, with video conferencing, so we’d be able to work with [colleagues in] Reno, for example, while holding meetings, educational meetings, political meetings, legislative meeting on all levels,” said El-Eid.
Educating the Medical Community
Until recently Las Vegas was one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States that didn’t have its own medical school.
“It’s been forever that the only state medical school was based in Reno,” said Dr. Michael Edwards, CCMS past president. With a majority of the population in Southern Nevada, that meant residency rotations were often in the Las Vegas area. Now with three medical schools in the area, there’s the hope that the advent of the UNLV School of Medicine will bring the medical community closer together and overall, improve the healthcare available in Las Vegas.
“It’s good now,” said Edwards, who serves on the community advisory board for the new medical school. “And it’s going to get better.”
When it comes to educating doctors, medical school is just the first step in the process, according to Eisen. Doctors don’t graduate from medical school and go into practice. There’s further medical training, residencies and fellowships, and those are developing in Southern Nevada as well as the medical schools.
“In my day job, I’m the Chief Academic Officer for Valley Health System, and that’s what we’re doing, developing more of those opportunities,” said Eisen.
When graduates of existing medical schools – University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno, and Touro University, as well as the new schools, UNLV School of Medicine and Roseman University of Health Sciences – will be able to do their training in Nevada, we’ll have a better shot at keeping bright, young, talented doctors in state.
Keeping medical school graduates in the state to do their residencies means offering opportunities for residencies, under the idea of “graduate and educate,” according to Edwards. Because the first focus is on primary care and family practice, both areas in which Nevada has a shortage of doctors, keeping residents in state is important.
“Studies have shown a graduating resident is 70 percent more likely to stay where they trained,” said Edwards. “So one of our roles is to encourage doctors to stay in town. This is a great place to live, a great place to take care of patients, and there’s definitely a need.”
One of the reasons Nevada faces a shortage of doctors is because several years ago, before tort reform created a $350,000 medical malpractice cap (upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court in October 2015), there was only one insurance company in the state providing malpractice insurance, and at prohibitively expensive rates. That’s one of the ways CCMS helps Nevada doctors – through a government affairs committee that works on changes to legislation to help both patients and physicians, according to Adashek.
While working toward offering residency opportunities in state, there’s a need to look at the entire continuum of medical education. Medical school is step one. Residency follows and drives people toward where they’re going to practice. Before medical school, there’s undergraduate programs, premedical programs, programs for other healthcare professionals, and before that – high school and middle school.
CCMS works with schools to help identify students that have an interest and aptitude for the health professions, who might want to go into nursing, therapy, psychology or pursue the road to becoming a doctor. If those students can be identified early, there’s a chance to create a continuum of education that will lead to not only more medical professionals in state, but to raise the standard of quality of Nevada medical care.
“One of the things the medical society does is to be a focal point for all of that,” said Eisen. “We have representation at all four venues from the Nevada System of Higher Education, from all four of the medical schools, from residency programs and its providers, all of those folks trying to come together to create that pathway and have all things fit together well to serve Nevada.”
Outreach programs for high school and college students give them some exposure to the healthcare field and an idea of the steps required to become a physician or a nurse or a physical therapist or anesthetist, all the various professions now that will be represented with the UNLV School of Medicine,” said Kuhls, who serves as associate dean, academic affairs, University of Nevada School of Medicine.
Unifying the Medical World
Membership in the local medical society is important for doctors for reasons beyond that of advocacy and education. There’s also considerations specific to physicians themselves.
“I was always taught when I was in training as a resident in New York, you join the local society wherever you go and you start now, and once you have your license you participate in the community and the community medical society will watch out for you as a physician,” said El-Eid. “So I do believe that all physicians should belong to their local society, that’s how their voices are heard. The unity is very important. When we all belong, and we have the same voice, then our voice can be heard. We have many obstacles, especially in this day and age, in practicing what we went into medicine to practice. With the rules and regulations for the hospitals and the electronic medical records, sometimes we can’t even afford our overhead. When we come together and address the issues and go to the administrative level and fight for physicians in our communities, that’s how we’re heard.”
In addition to representing physicians and educating both healthcare workers and their patients, a medical society needs to educate providers about important topics in the community and give them a voice and an opportunity to provide their own expertise on such topics. “So our medical society executive director and staff always keep the president advised and try to get members out to certain functions and events, involved on councils and aware of what’s going on [in the community],” said Edwards.
CCMS also makes it possible for members to be represented at functions they may not otherwise have the ability to participate in.
“Any medical society in any community, its job is to represent the physician whether it be political issues or whether it be for any type of issues, even social issues, social or media events,” said Edwards. “So we have an elected president and an executive council behind them. When things come along that your average plastic surgeon just can’t be a part of whether, it be about the medical school or something the mayor has going on, the medical society, in my opinion, is there to represent the physician and medical providers in general and to educate those providers about important things that are out there, in addition to educating the public. So our medical society executive director and staff always keep the president advised and try to get them out to certain functions and events and also involved with councils so they know what’s going on in the community.”
Along with being able to promote issues important for public health, members of CCMS are able to work together to provide the most current information available where there are media opportunities to help educate the community, said Dr. Staci McHale, CCMS treasurer.
Standard of Care
Taking care of patients doesn’t start and stop in the hospital or with an office visit. Out in the community laws are passed and regulations put in place that affect patients, their healthcare and their rights, and physicians need to be able to have a voice in those processes.
Being part of a medical society allows doctors to connect, to collaborate and to share information. “None of us knows everything,” Eisen said. When issues rise outside of a physician’s specialty, membership in a medical society means doctors already have relationships with other members of the medical society and can pick up the phone and consult with experts in other practices. “That means a better outcome for patients, and that’s the ultimate goal,” he added.
In terms of educating the Southern Nevada community, medical education programs available through CCMS offer physicians the ability to mix and match. Maybe no one knows everything, but it’s possible to have multi-discipline education, like the 2016 robotic surgery symposium which will educate in all different fields that use robotic surgery and discuss all current applications.
It also helps to introduce physicians to specialties outside their own. “I’m a maternal fetal medicine specialist,” said Adashek. “I go to maternal fetal risk specialty conferences, while CCMS has a much more board range of conferences to help out all physicians.” Programs like the robotic surgery symposium offer doctors the chance to learn aspects of a subject they’d never experience at their own specialty conferences.
CCMS functions from a higher viewpoint, rather than getting lost in specialities. “It can act as a forum for physicians to not only communicate but raise concerns that should be resolved or could be addressed by an organization such as CCMS, so it’s a venue for individual physicians in solo practice, in group practice or academia, to come together to address the healthcare needs of Nevadans, as well as some issues that relate to physicians being able to provide the best possible care, and gives them a body that can speak for them as well, and speak in the legislature, at public meetings and forums and community groups, and identify common themes in healthcare irrespective of specialty,” said Kuhls.
El-Eid’s wish list for her upcoming term as CCMS president is more education, all the way around: for physicians, healthcare workers and the public. She’d like to bring national and international conferences to Southern Nevada and have the society offer expert recommendations on healthcare issues and legislation.
“We’re all in this together,” said El-Eid. “We all want to make [healthcare] the best experience for everyone, for the community, for the society, not just taking care of patients during their diseases but also preventing their diseases and diagnosing them early.” That means everyone working together, connecting the medical community with the Southern Nevada community and providing education.
“The Clark County Medical Society provides a voice for physicians on issues that are important for us in terms of legislation being passed [about healthcare] as well as physicians being able to band together and work toward common goals,” said McHale. “The medical society is supportive of us as we work together, trying to make medicine the strongest it can be and give it the strongest voice it can have. I hope CCMS will continue to grow and be the voice for physicians in Clark County and also for our patients, to be an advocate for them and to help provide educational opportunities so they are better informed about their healthcare choices.”
Need a referral to a specific doctor? Questions about healthcare?
Ideas for seminars on health-related topics? CCMS wants to know.
Hearing what the community wants can help CCMS provide timely and topical education programs.
UMC provides the highest level of health care in Nevada
University Medical Center of Southern Nevada (UMC) offers the highest level of care in Nevada, providing a wide range of exclusive and specialized health care services to the community and its visitors.
Since its inception in 1931, UMC has been a cornerstone for health care in the state. For example, UMC is home to Nevada’s only Level I Trauma Center, its only Burn Care Center and only Center for Transplantation. The Trauma Center serves Southern Nevada’s 2 million residents and the 42 million tourists who visit each year. UMC’s service area covers 10,000 square miles, including Southern Nevada and parts of California, Utah and Arizona.
The Trauma Center’s specialized medical personnel and resources focus on injured patients receiving life-saving care that meets or exceeds the standards found at top-rated trauma centers across the United States.
The Trauma and Burn Care centers also participate in communitywide injury prevention initiatives, including:
- The Pedestrian Safety Task Force, a community partnership to promote safety among elementary and middle school children and people who walk and use public transportation.
- Safe Kids Clark County, a grassroots coalition that aims to prevent accidental injuries among children.
- Every 15 Minutes, a two-day program for high school students to develop good decision-making skills when alcohol is involved.
- You Drink, You Drive, You Lose, an annual educational event to discourage drunk driving among high school students.
- Nevada EMSC Program, which is committed to improving emergency medical care for children, specifically in rural Nevada.
The Children’s Hospital of Nevada at UMC provides patients with access to Nevada’s only designated Pediatric Trauma Center. Children’s Hospital of Nevada at UMC is the only hospital in Nevada accepted as an associate member of the Children’s Hospital Association.
It is also:
- The only hospital in Nevada to offer pediatric burn care and organ transplant services.
- The only hospital in Nevada staffed around the clock with in-hospital, board-certified pediatric critical care and emergency medicine physicians.
- The state’s only dedicated Pediatric Sedation Unit.
With highly skilled physicians, nurses and staff members supported by the latest cutting-edge technology, UMC continues to build upon its reputation for providing the highest level of care. In support of its mission to serve as Southern Nevada’s premier academic health center, the county-owned hospital is the anchor partner for the new University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine under development near UMC.
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