Nevada System of Higher Education
Health Sciences System Newsletter 
February 2015
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:

CSN to Help Military Veterans Become Nurses

Military veterans with medical training will soon be able to become Licensed Practical Nurses through a new program at the College of Southern Nevada.


The Medic and Military Corpsmen to LPN program launches this month. It is designed for veteran medics and corpsmen, as well as active duty guard and reserve medics.


"Our veterans and active duty members of the military are the backbone of who we are as a nation. It is our duty to support them, and we gladly do so," said CSN President Michael Richards. "We are proud that CSN is the first college in Nevada to offer the medic to LPN program."


Nevada is one of six states piloting the program. At the behest of Gov. Brian Sandoval, the Nevada State Nursing Board and CSN worked together to develop the program. It is similar to one developed at an Arizona community college.


"As a community college, it is our mission to respond to the needs of the community we serve," said Darren Divine, CSN's vice president for academic affairs. "Workforce training and retraining will always be a top priority at CSN."


Click here for more information 

UNLV professor, Janet Dufek, examines incident reports detailing falls among children in pediatric-care facilities


Kids fall all the time, but bouncing back can be trickier when it happens in a hospital. Thanks to an internal grant, UNLV professor Janet Dufek has been able to collaborate with a leading children's hospital to tackle the issue.

Injury from falling is a real concern for hospital patients, particularly older adults. But pediatric patients are at risk, too, an unfortunate reality UNLV's Janet Dufek is working to better understand.


Dufek, a professor in the department of kinesiology and nutrition sciences, has teamed up with Nancy Ryan-Wenger, director of nursing research at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, to examine incident reports detailing falls among children in pediatric-care facilities. Their goal is to examine both why falls occur and how best to quickly and accurately evaluate the damage done.


"Dr. Ryan-Wenger and I became mutually interested in combining our academic strengths and interests," Dufek says. "Hers is in pediatrics and standards of care, mine in applying mechanics to the problem of determining magnitude of injury following a fall in a hospital or clinic. I became interested in testing new approaches to identify and reduce pediatric patient falls and how to develop a risk model to evaluate the likelihood of serious injury following a fall."


With the assistance of a UNLV Faculty Opportunity Award, Dufek says she and Ryan-Wenger were able to amass the preliminary data they needed to convince outside funding agencies that their investigation was worthy of support.


"The primary purpose of this pilot study was to obtain data in support of an external grant application being prepared and submitted," she says, noting that the research team has already received a $10,000 grant from the American Nurses Foundation and is preparing a grant proposal for an Academic Research Enhancement Award from the National Institutes of Health

"Obtaining external funding would likely have been impossible without the faculty award support used to generate the pilot data."


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TMCC Breaks Ground for Health Science Center

TMCC Foundation Board Member Brad Woodring (of NV Energy) and TMCC President Maria Sheehan participate in the ground breaking event.


At the groundbreaking ceremony for the new 16,800 square-foot Health Science Center building on January 21, three television cameras were carefully aimed at college officials, representatives of two U.S. Senators, Q & D Construction spokespersons and president of the student nurses association.


A Certificate of Recognition was presented to TMCC by Mary Skau, regional representative of Senator Harry Reid, commemorating the historic occasion. Katie Pace, regional representative for Senator Dean Heller, also presented a certificate at the podium.


"There's a shortage of nurses, and we need more staff, more folks interested in the field," Pace said. "And if people are educated locally, there's a better chance they'll stay in Nevada."

TMCC President, Dr. Maria Sheehan reinforced these sentiments in her remarks, including citing a nursing shortage of 4,500 empty positions in the region. The new facility will allow the addition of a new cohort of 32 student nurses per year at the Maxine S. Jacobs Nursing Program.


"We currently have at least 32 students in each of the four semesters - so, a total of four cohorts at all times," said Jody Covert, director of nursing at TMCC. "We graduate up to 64 each year, fall and spring."


Gerald Smith, Director of the Nell J. Redfield Foundation presented thoughtful observations about how individuals, organizations and TMCC serve the community. Gretchen Alt Sawyer, Executive Director of the TMCC Foundation, coordinated the event and acted as master of ceremonies.


Student and president of the MSJ Student Nurses' Association, Penelope Burke, spoke at the podium about a life of helping people. She quoted a writer who described the career of nursing a calling so profound that it is a type of passionate calling to care for others - a mania.


"I can attest to this mania that seems to attract so many of us to nursing; in fact, my friends and family thought I was crazy when I gave up a successful career to pursue this dream, said Burke.  "I, on the other hand, think the crazy ones are those not drawn to a profession that has such a profound impact on people's lives."

School of Medicine publishes Seventh Edition of the Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book
A newly released University of Nevada School of Medicine report documents the diverse features of health and health care in rural and frontier counties of Nevada.

The Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book - Seventh Edition contains a wide range of current information on the demography, population health, and the health care delivery system in rural and frontier regions of Nevada. It includes important data for public policy makers, health care professionals and administrators, rural health care advocates, and, importantly, the residents of rural and frontier Nevada.

"The primary purpose of the data book is to provide the health care community with the most comprehensive and accurate county-level data on population health trends and the health care system in Nevada," said co-author Tabor Griswold, Ph.D., a policy analyst in the School of Medicine's Office of Statewide Initiatives. "The data book should also be valuable to anyone interested in learning more about health and health care in Nevada."

Please click here to read more of the findings presented in the report.


NSC chemistry professor, Dr. Amber Howerton, has collaborated with UNLV faculty to earn a five-year, $3.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant was awarded in December 2014, to support the efforts of Dr. Howerton and UNLV chemistry professor, Dr. Ernesto Abel-Santos, as they continue their research on a drug aimed at preventing Clostridium difficile, or C. diff.


C. diff is "a bacterium that can cause significant illness, including severe abdominal pain and uncontrollable diarrhea." ( C. diff can occur in patients taking antibiotics, especially the elderly and people with certain medical problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: 

"When a person takes antibiotics, good germs that protect against infection are destroyed for several months. During this time, patients can get sick from C. difficile picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread from a health care provider's hands." 

If C. diff spores germinate in the intestines while a patient is on antibiotics (and, therefore, the good germs are gone), the bacteria can produce toxins, which cause illness. Common symptoms of a C. diff infection (CDI) include: Watery diarrhea; Fever; Loss of appetite; Nausea Belly pain and tenderness. 

There are approximately 500,000 cases of CDI in the U.S. each year, costing more than $3.2 billion. "About 20,000 (people) are dying every year from this," Dr. Kuniyuki, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), said. "So this grant addresses an important health need." 


Click here to read more 


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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