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

Approval of New Pediatric Physician Residency Program Helps Improve Care for Children and Families in Nevada

September 22, 2022

doctor max coppes with pediatric patient

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) and Renown Health are pleased to announce the accreditation of a new three-year Pediatrics Residency Program with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The inaugural cohort of pediatric residents will start next summer, in July of 2023. The new residency will help shape future pediatric practices – and fill a state and nation-wide physician specialist shortage. Over a three-year period, four newly trained physicians will be selected each year for a total complement of twelve residents.

“Creating a Pediatric Residency Program for our community has been a dream more than five years in the making,” says Max Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA, former Nell J. Redfield Chair of Pediatrics at the UNR Med and pediatrician-in-chief at Renown Children’s Hospital. “Currently, UNR Med students interested in becoming pediatricians must leave the area to complete their residency training elsewhere. The William N. Pennington Foundation has paved the way for this program, which will create a pipeline of much-needed pediatricians for our state, especially in 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 academic department of pediatrics in Reno began in 2014 when Renown Health and UNR Med agreed to recruit an academic pediatrician who would serve both as Chair of Pediatrics at UNR Med and as Pediatrician-in-Chief of Renown Children’s Hospital. The Nell J. Redfield Foundation donated $1.5M towards this initiative and expressed the hope to see a pediatric residency program established for the community. After the recruitment of Dr. Max Coppes for this role in 2016, The William N. Pennington Foundation recognized the need for enhanced care and expertise for pediatrics and donated $7.5 million to Renown Children’s Hospital to establish the William N. Pennington Fund for Advanced Pediatric Care. Through these gifts, 100,000 area children now have access to more than 15 specialized pediatricians, including those specializing in oncology, orthopedics, pulmonology, emergency medicine, 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, thanks to donor support, 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.

Melissa Piasecki, MD, Acting Dean of UNR Med 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.” She adds, “This new residency is a tremendous step forward for the UNR Med and Renown Health affiliation – and for our entire community. This pediatric residency program advances a mutual commitment to recruit and retain skilled and compassionate physicians and healthcare professionals, improve access to healthcare and invest in clinical research that improves the health of this generation and the next. Within the UNR Med andRenown 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 are the clinical training partners. The process moved so smoothly; within six months of the affiliation, the GME-CC voted to support a new pediatric residency. 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 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.

“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, MD, MBA, FAAP, Interim 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 will allow 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.”

“It truly is a dream come true. We 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,” says Lawrence Duncan, MS, VP and Administrator for Renown Women & Children’s Hospital. “Between now and summer 2023, we will add the foundational pieces needed to ensure the success of the program including recruiting a Chief Resident, ongoing faculty development and ensuring that all components are in place for recruiting, teaching, supervising and mentoring residents.”

“One of the main obstacles for increasing the number of physicians to care for our growing community is the relative lack of pediatric residency programs in the state and the absence of a program in northern Nevada. 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.”

“In August, recognizing the need to grow the state’s physician workforce in high-needs specialties, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology announced the funding of five graduate medical education residency and fellowship programs, including $870,433 for the UNR Med Pediatrics Residency Program,” said Christine Bosse, Chief Government Affairs Officer for Renown Health. “Nevada produces more undergraduate medical students than it has available residencies and fellowships. Additionally, Nevada lacks fellowships in some specialties that are of interest to students. As a result, many highly educated students must leave the state for further training at a time when they are beginning real-world application of their advanced education. We appreciate that the GME Grant funding will assist the state and our community, in attracting, educating and retaining more doctors for Nevada.”

“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 Thomas Graf, MD, interim Chief Executive Officer, Renown Health, “Attracting and retaining talent is a key component of our drive for excellence as a care leader 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 Med will participate in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) and encourages applicants to visit the UNR Med GME website for more information. 

About UNR Med

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 6,500 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 enrolling participants in a community-based genetic population health study, the Healthy Nevada Project®.

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