• Renown Health
  • Pediatric Care
  • University of Nevada, Reno

First Pediatric Physician Residents Accepted Into New Program

March 23, 2023

Renown and UNR School of Medicine Logo

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) and Renown Health are pleased to announce members of the first resident class of the new UNR Med Pediatric Residency Program. The four new Pediatric Residents will be working at Renown Children’s Hospital and in Renown outpatient pediatric clinics starting on July 1, 2023. The following four residents have matched. 
Megan Dinges 
Megan spent her childhood in Omaha, attending college at the University of Nebraska and medical school at the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Iowa. Megan is a passionate patient advocate with clinical care experience as a Certified Nursing Assistant and ICU tech prior to medical school. She has been a leader amongst peers and volunteered in a homeless shelter working with children. Megan is a first-generation college graduate. 

Jason Lundy, DO 
Dr. Lundy was raised in California, attending UC Santa Barbara for undergraduate school, and completing graduate school at San Diego State University with a Chemistry degree. He completed his medical training at the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and is currently doing a preliminary intern year in surgery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jason realized that his true love is Pediatrics after having two small children of his own. 

Krista Luntsford, DO 
Dr. Luntsford graduated from the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine with her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) in 2022 and is currently completing a transitional year in surgery in New Jersey. Notably, she was awarded the Gold Humanism Award, served in student government, and led the Pediatrics Club in medical school. Originally from Washington state, she is excited to return to the west coast.

Erin Whepley 
Erin grew up in Kansas, attended the University of Puget Sound for undergraduate school and will be graduating with her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine this spring. Erin is resilient and inspiring and has always known that she wants to serve others through pediatrics. 

These four newly trained physicians will be the inaugural members and first class of the new three-year Pediatrics Residency Program with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) that announced last September. The residency will help shape future pediatric practices – and fill a state and nation-wide physician specialist shortage. Over a three-year period, four physicians will be selected each year for a total complement of twelve residents over a three-year period. 

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

“Creating a Pediatric Residency Program for our community has been a dream more than five years in the making,” says Dr. Deeter, “Formerly, UNR Med students interested in becoming pediatricians had to leave the state to complete their residency training elsewhere. This program creates a pipeline of much needed pediatricians for our state-especially under-served and rural areas – to serve vulnerable children and families of Nevada with high quality, affordable care.” 

The vision to grow pediatric services into a full-fledged Children’s Hospital with a robust Department of Pediatrics as academic partner in Reno began in 2014. Today, 100,000 area children now have access to more than 60 pediatricians, including those specializing in adolescent medicine; anesthesia; cardiology; craniofacial surgery; dentistry; ear, nose and throat conditions; emergency medicine; endocrinology; gastroenterology;  general pediatrics; hospitalist medicine; intensive care; neonatology; neurology; oncology; ophthalmology;  orthopedics; psychiatry; psychology; pulmonology; surgery; urology and other subspecialties previously lacking in the community, as well as a pediatric emergency room, pediatric ICU and contemporary healthcare services at Renown Children’s Hospital. Prior to 2016, about 30% of all pediatric patients had to leave northern Nevada to receive the specialty care they needed. Now, Renown estimates that 97% of all pediatric patients and their families can receive both general and specialty pediatric care locally. The next nearest children’s hospital in the state is 7 hours or 438 miles away in Las Vegas.

Paul Hauptman, MD, Dean of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and Chief Academic Officer for Renown, explains, “Residencies are specialty training programs for doctors after they graduate from medical school. Before becoming licensed physicians, medical school graduates train for three or more years learning from more experienced ‘attending’ physicians.”  He adds, “Our new pediatric residency program is a tremendous step forward for the UNR Med and Renown Health affiliation- and for our entire community. It advances a mutual commitment to recruit and retain skilled and compassionate physicians and health care professionals, improves access to health care, and invests in clinical research that improves the health of this generation and the next. Within the UNR Med-Renown affiliation, we 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) is the clinical training partner. This is a great addition to our existing residencies at UNR Med, which include family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and provides our students with a great training opportunity in pediatrics.”

Nevada’s shortage; ranks 45th for physicians and 47th in the U.S. for pediatricians. 
Nevada faces a severe physician workforce shortage, ranking 45th in the nation for active physicians per 100,000 people. The physician workforce shortage is especially critical for pediatricians, with Nevada ranking 47th in the country with fewer than 10 pediatricians for every 100,000 people. The northern Nevada community is growing rapidly and Washoe County faces additional pediatrician shortages as local physicians approach retirement. 

“It truly is a dream come true. Dr. Deeter and I are indebted to the comprehensive team that has built the structure, recruited faculty to support the training program and successfully recruited a Program Director, Dr. Caroline Barangan, and Associate Program Director, Dr. Shilpi Garg, a 2012 UNR Med alumna (’12), and Pediatric Residency Coordinator, Jorge Pulido-Rubio. Their hard work and time spent has ensured a successful match.” says Lawrence Duncan, M.S., VP and Administrator for Renown Women & Children’s Hospital. 

“Residency programs in pediatrics recruit and train students completing medical school and seeking residency training to become a pediatrician,” says Caroline Barangan, MD, Pediatric Residency Program Director, Renown Health and UNR Med. “Workforce research consistently shows that students who complete a residency tend to stay and practice in the communities where they completed their residency training program. For those who complete medical school and residency in the same place, over 75% stay to practice in that community.”

“This new community-based program will provide residents with a strong foundation in primary care pediatrics as well as broad, in-depth exposure to all pediatric subspecialties. This will create graduates equally well prepared for careers in general pediatric practice, service to the state’s rural and underserved communities or in academics," adds David Carlson, MD, UNR Med Associate Dean, Graduate Medical Education; Designated Institutional Officer. “Through the program, pediatric residents will spend their 36-month residency focused on children’s care and complete a primary care-focused clinical training program with rotations that allow them to learn while caring for children in both inpatient and outpatient settings with supervising 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 record of clinical excellence,” said Brian Sandoval, President, University of Nevada, Reno. “This is one more way our affiliation, signed in 2021 to establish the first fully integrated health system in Nevada, is helping to expand clinical training and clinical research programs as well as improve access to clinical care for all Nevadans.” 

“We are proud to partner with UNR Med to bring this new residency program to our community,” says Brian Erling, MD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, Renown Health, “Attracting and retaining talent is a key component of our drive for excellence and our mutual goal of improving the health of our community. We are fortunate to have the strong infrastructure necessary to create this program and a team of highly-skilled physicians who can train the next generation of pediatricians.” 

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

About the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med), Nevada’s first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Since 1969, UNR Med has trained more than 3,900 students, residents and fellows. UNR Med continues to improve the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion. For more information, visit med.unr.edu.

About Renown Health

Renown Health is Nevada’s largest, locally governed, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. With a diverse workforce of more than 7,200 employees, Renown has fostered a longstanding culture of excellence, determination and innovation. The organization comprises a trauma center, two acute care hospitals, a children’s hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, a medical group and urgent care network, and the locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown is currently hiring exceptional members to join our team. For more information, visit renown.org.

Media Contacts

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Renown Public Relations

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