Nevada System of Higher Education
Health Sciences System Newsletter 
October 2013
The Health Sciences System (HSS) was established by the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents in 2006. Its purpose is to address Nevada's community health issues through a system-wide effort to integrate and expand the education of health professionals and to foster collaborative research in health and health care.  Through collaboration among the NSHE institutions and a broad range of external partners, the HSS intends to be a catalyst for improvement in the health and wellness of Nevada.  Visit us at:
University of Nevada, Reno's Ruchala appointed to prestigious national board, local committee


Patsy Ruchala, DNSc, RN, professor and director of the University of Nevada, Reno's Orvis School of Nursing, was selected last month for the Association of American Colleges of Nursing's Board Member-at-Large position. The term of this position is through March 2015.


The AACN is a national voice for baccalaureate and graduate programs in nursing and represents more than 700 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide.  


"It is such an opportunity to work with this prestigious group to promote and influence the highest standards for nursing education, research and practice. I am honored and humbled to be elected by my fellow nursing deans and directors across the country to serve as a member of AACN's Board of Directors," Ruchala said upon learning of her selection to the board.


The AACN sets quality standards for bachelor's and graduate degree nursing education, assists deans and directors to implement those standards, influences the nursing profession to improve health care and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research and practice.


At nearly the same time, Ruchala accepted an appointment as a member of the Washoe County Committee for Juvenile Services, which has a mission to help create a safer community by providing a continuum of services and sanctions to youth and their families.


"Since much of my nursing career has dealt with teaching and research on topics related to children and families, I am excited to be able to bring that perspective to work with members of the Washoe County Committee for Juvenile Services," she said.


Ruchala has served as teaching faculty in all levels of nursing education, including oversight of the PhD in Nursing program at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She has also served in administrative roles at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO and Georgia State University, prior to coming to the University in 2004. She has also served on the Southern Regional Education Board's Blue Ribbon Commission on the Preparation of Nurse Educators.


Ruchala serves on the editorial board of three professional journals: the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, Neonatal Network: The Journal of Neonatal Nursing and the Journal of Nursing Scholarship. She is a member of the Education Advisory Committee for the Nevada State Board of Nursing, serves as the secretary for the Nevada Alliance for Nursing Excellence and is a member of the Executive Council for the Nevada Future of Nursing Action Coalition.


As well as having been elected to the AACN Board of Directors, she is also a member of the AACN Governmental Affairs Committee. Her research focus is on mother-infant relationships and parent/newborn issues.



TMCC Celebrates Grand Opening of Pennington Dental Wing

The TMCC Foundation recently held a grand opening event on to dedicate the William N. Pennington Dental Wing, located at the Dandini Campus.  The major gift from the William N. Pennington Foundation demonstrated a partnership and investment committed to strengthening Nevada's dental health industry through education, economic diversification and private industry.  


"The William N. Pennington Dental Wing is the home of TMCC's renowned dental assisting and hygiene programs," said Dr. Maria Sheehan, president of TMCC.  "The renovations afford us the opportunity to maintain high standards of achievement while meeting student and employer expectations and pursue additional revenue sources for the programs and the College." 


Renovations to the dental clinic will allow TMCC to seek approval to become a Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene certification testing center and to hold continuing education courses for dental health practitioners.  Both will provide a revenue source for the dental programs and the College. 


The only program of its kind in northern Nevada, TMCC's one-year dental assisting program is now in its 25thyear graduating 10 students each year.  The 13 year-old dental hygiene program garners extremely high national exam scores for graduates.  Both programs prepare students to seek high-skilled, high-wage employment and boast 100 percent job placement rates for those graduates seeking employment.


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UNLV Earns National Recognition for Campus Mental Health Services

UNLV was recently recognized as a top university for its comprehensive approach to student mental health programming. The university was one of just 30 awarded the JedCampus seal from the Jed Foundation, a national non-profit that advocates suicide prevention and mental health programs for college students.


The seal is part of the foundation's JedCampus program, which assesses how well a university works collaboratively beyond its counseling centers to approach mental health services for students. This includes counseling and suicide prevention programs, health and life skills programs, and educational outreach for faculty, staff and students. The seal is valid for two years.


"UNLV is honored to be included in the first class of schools recognized by the Jed Foundation for our commitment to the emotional well-being of our students," said Jamie Davidson, UNLV associate vice president for student wellness. "College is a time of increased pressure when many students experience symptoms of emotional health issues. We take pride in working collaboratively at UNLV to decrease the stigma of seeking help through outreach and education, and by providing accessible and high quality mental services."


As part of the process to earn the seal, universities took a voluntary, online self-assessment reviewing their campus mental health and suicide prevention programming. The Jed Foundation then compared the school's responses to the recommended practices outlined in The Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention on College and University Campuses developed by The Jed Foundation and Suicide Prevention Resource Center.


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School of Medicine welcomes back Michael Daubs, M.D., as chief of new orthopaedic surgery division

The University of Nevada School of Medicine welcomes back Michael Daubs, M.D., a 1989 alumnus, as its first chief of the new orthopaedic surgery division within the Department of Surgery.


"I'm pleased as chairman of the department of surgery to have successfully recruited Dr. Daubs as professor and the first chief of our new orthopedic surgery division. He is a distinguished School of Medicine alumnus who is eager to build a strong faculty and ultimately a training program that will benefit our students," said William A. Zamboni, M.D.


Daubs, who specializes in spinal reconstructive surgery and the treatment of scoliosis in adults and children, was most recently with the Department of Orthopaedics at UCLA. He has also held positions in orthopaedics with Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Utah in Salt Lake.


"It's great to be back home! I am looking forward to working with the community to build an outstanding orthopaedic division and training program that our medical school and community will be proud of," said Daubs, who completed his residency at the University of Arizona and was fellowship-trained at the University of Missouri.


He is board-certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, and has won several awards for his research on the treatment of spine and scoliosis disorders. He serves on the editorial boards of several medical spine journals and national committees of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the North American Spine Society, the Cervical Spine Research Society, the Lumbar Spine Research Society, and the Scoliosis Research Society.


Daubs sees patients at the School of Medicine's Patient Care Center, 1707 West Charleston Blvd, Suite 160 in Las Vegas. The number is (702)671-5150.



UNLV School of Dental Medicine recognized for efforts to increase student diversity 

The UNLV School of Dental Medicine has been working to increase diversity among its student population, and has been finding success through unique and innovative outreach programs. Recently, The UNLV Hispanic Student Dental Association (HSDA) hosted forty inner-city high school students who were primarily Hispanic or African American, ranging from fourteen through eighteen years of age.


The two-day event was held at the UNLV School of Dental Medicine where the young high school students were introduced to the field of dentistry and its several specialties including, orthodontics, dental hygienist, dental assistant and dental laboratory technician. During the first day of the event, experts from each field gave short lectures including Q&A session afterwards.   On the second day of the event, the students participated in a hands-on general dentistry activity by restoring typodont teeth with amalgam and composite materials. The students were able to take alginate impressions of their hands, which were poured in stone and given to the students as a souvenir.


"The students were completely engaged and demonstrated a genuine interest for the different fields of dentistry," said School of Dental Medicine Dean Karen West. "After participating in this outreach event, several students indicated that they had found 'their calling'."


Additionally, a report from faculty at the School of Dental Medicine was recently published in the Journal of Dental Education. The article featured the Dental Prospects Program which works to increase attendance and retention among underrepresented minority populations.


Below is a brief excerpt of the publication:


McClain M, Jones FR, Curd FM. Increasing Dental Student Diversity through the UNLV Dental Prospects Program. J Dent Educ 2013 77:548-553.


"The UNLV SDM Dental Prospects Club was initiated by a group of undergraduate minority stu­dents from low- or middle-income backgrounds. Many of the students could be classified as non­traditional, economically disadvantaged, or first generation college students and had marginal grade point averages (GPAs), science grades, or Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores. An additional chal­lenge for these students was the fact that many had to work full-time (a minimum of thirty-two hours per week) while attending college. Because of this, traditional assessment methods used by dental school admissions personnel were viewed by these students as a serious challenge, especially since these students were not considered academically competitive by their pre-health professions faculty advisors.


Many of these students faced a further difficulty in that many of their parents were unemployed due to the recent economic downturn. This led to extreme financial difficulties that forced the students to be the family breadwinners in order to support younger siblings. As a result of these hardships, the students joined together and sought out dental faculty mem­bers willing to advise, counsel, and provide direc­tion to them in their quest for admission into dental school. These faculty advisors became committed to helping Dental Prospects members in their pursuit of dental school admission.


Through the embedded cognition process of working side-by-side with faculty members and den­tal students, many of these students' self-esteem grew stronger, enabling them to envision themselves as successful students and future successful practicing dentists. With creative scheduling by predental fac­ulty advisors, students learned how to manage their schedules and successfully complete the predental Dental Prospects program. As a result, many Dental Prospects students have succeeded in being admitted to UNLV SDM. This, in turn, is helping the UNLV SDM achieve its goal of increasing the diversity of its student body."


For a copy of the full article, please contact:

Dr. Mildred A. McClain via email at or by phone at (702) 774-2642



Did you know: 
The Nevada System of Higher Education has 150 distinct Health Sciences programs throughout eight institutions with an estimated total of 18,000 enrolled students.
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