Health Sciences System

The Nevada System of Higher Education Health Sciences System Charge:


Work with leaders throughout the NSHE to promote development of, and collaboration among, over 150 health sciences programs throughout the eight NSHE institutions, to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of our students and our state.
The Health Sciences System (HSS) of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) is charged with working with leaders throughout the eight NSHE institutions to ensure that Nevada has a highly trained health care workforce to meet our current and future needs.  The HSS was established in 2006 in recognition of the unique opportunity for NSHE’s eight institutions to work together to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of our students and our state.  On behalf of the Chancellor and the Board of Regents, the HSS staff was charged to serve as a catalyst and coordinating agent to support program development and promote collaboration within the over 150 health sciences programs throughout the eight NSHE institutions, and with external health care partners.  The following is an overview of some of the current and past HSS initiatives:

Academic Health Center Development:  The HSS staff has been charged with supporting the planning and development of an Academic Health Center (AHC) in partnership with the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada (UMC).  An Academic Health Center will allow greater opportunity for UMC to become a more robust teaching hospital in partnership with the University of Nevada School of Medicine (UNSOM) and other NSHE health sciences programs.  The development of a true Academic Health Center will involve numerous stakeholders including UMC, the Clark County Board of Commissioners and the Nevada System of Higher Education  Board of Regents and many health sciences programs throughout NSHE, and will strive to enhance the level of educational experiences and quality of care at UMC.

Health Sciences System Council Creation: The HSS staff has been charged by the Chancellor  to established the Nevada System of Higher Education Health Sciences System Council  to focus on: meeting state needs; promoting internal and external collaboration; supporting economic development; and promoting communication.  The Council is composed of health sciences deans and program leaders from each institution as appointed by campus presidents.  The charge of the Council  includes reviewing and making recommendations to the Health Sciences System Committee regarding existing health science programs and new programs that may be necessary to meet both student and state needs;  providing opportunities for communication among NSHE institutions and faculty to identify and promote best practices for health science programs; reviewing partnerships between NSHE health sciences programs and health care providers in Nevada and recommending strategies to strengthen such partnerships; and reviewing partnerships between NSHE health science programs and State of Nevada health programs, as well as  recommending strategies to strengthen such partnerships.

Nevada Economic Development/Diversification Support: The vice chancellor for Health Sciences was elected to chair the Nevada Health Care Sector Council, a legislatively-created initiative to support the development of the workforce and economy of Nevada. In this capacity, she is working with stakeholders from within NSHE and within the Nevada health care community, to identify ways in which to promote the health of the population and economy of Nevada, with a special eye to supporting the educational pipeline tasked with training the health care workforce in Nevada.  The HSS staff is also working closely with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) to identify ways in which NSHE health sciences programs can support development and diversification within the Nevada health care industry. 

Shadow Lane Campus Master Planning:  The HSS staff has led the effort in a Shadow Lane Campus master planning exercise.  NSHE stakeholders, including the HSS, UNLV, CSN, NSC and UNSOM met to discuss high level master planning.  The presidents, provosts and deans from each institution participated in an assessment of current programmatic needs.  Additionally, an assessment of the available space, infrastructure and physical capacity was conducted by an outside consultant.  The master planning exercise has provided invaluable information as efforts begin to move forward with programmatic and facilities planning to support the development of the Academic Health Center in conjunction with the UMC hospital.


Health Sciences Capital Improvements Program Management:

  • NSHE HSS Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas: The HSS led the way for a landmark agreement among three of the state’s higher education institutions to share clinical lab, teaching and support space for health education.  Students from the UNLV School of Nursing, Nevada State College School of Nursing and the University of Nevada School of Medicine will now train side by side in one center, sharing state-of-the-art labs, seminar rooms and smart classrooms.  The 31,500 square feet of shared clinical training space was opened in the fall of 2009 as part of the Shadow Lane Campus in the Las Vegas “medical district” near UMC.  The HSS secured nearly $16 million in state funding for renovation, construction and equipment for the clinical training space and worked in collaboration with UNLV facilities staff to manage the design and construction of the Center, as well as nursing and medical program leaders to initiate the operations and staffing of the facility.
  • Academic Clinical Training and Research Center (ACTC) in Las Vegas:  The HSS managed efforts to initiate development of a 72,000 square foot health sciences education and research facility that would house the UNLV nursing program as well as provide expanded space for UNSOM.  The HSS secured roughly $4.5 million in planning and design funding.  Additional state funding was initially appropriated, but was later retracted due to state budget constraints.  The project is 100 percent designed and “shovel ready” to break ground pending additional funding.
  • Pennington Medical Education Learning Laboratory: For the UNR campus, the HSS helped to secure more than $25 million in state funding for the Pennington Medical Education Learning Laboratory.  The state funding was matched with an additional $9 million in private funding coming from generous donors including the William N. Pennington Foundation, the Nell J. Redfield Foundation and the Thelma B. and Thomas P. Hart Foundation.  The Pennington building is a 58,000 square foot facility that houses the UNR Orvis School of Nursing and the University of Nevada School of Medicine.  Program space includes a new anatomy lab and lecture hall, a patient simulation center, classrooms, support space and student and faculty space.  The Pennington Building opened fall semester, 2011.

Joint Community Health Ph.D. Program Development: In partnership with the leadership from UNR and UNLV, the HSS has played a critical role in the formation of a joint Ph.D. program in public health between the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno.  The collaboration between the two schools represents a unique, statewide approach to public health training and research, drawing on complementary expertise and opportunities at both universities to create a high-quality academic program that maximizes resources and flexibility.  Students in the program can be admitted to either UNR or UNLV and will follow a common curriculum of required classes. Elective courses may be taken at either institution, and the dissertation is supervised by a chair at the admitting institution and a doctoral committee with members from either or both institutions.

Interdisciplinary Research Grant Program Sponsorship: Additionally, the HSS instituted the Inter-institutional Biomedical Research Activities Fund, a peer reviewed grant program to fund pilot studies to use in developing full-scale grant proposals based on the research results.  Five projects were funded, and to date, all of the grant recipients have applied for external funding to organizations such as the NIH and the National Science Foundation.  Each team of researchers presented their findings at a total of eleven scientific meetings and conferences throughout the country.  Findings were also submitted to and published in a total of seven scientific journals.  Additional grant and journal submissions are currently in process.

Nursing Program Collaboration Support: Under the leadership of the HSS, The Nevada Nursing Education and Practice Alliance (NNEPA) was convened and organized to bring together leaders from the higher education and health care industries to address gaps between nursing education and practice.  The HSS hosted a series of statewide meetings with leaders from the education and health provider fields including: the public and private nursing colleges, the Nevada State Board of Nursing, the Nevada Workforce Investment Board, the Nevada Hospital Association and its member hospitals, as well as a representative from Health Plan of Nevada.  Participants discussed concepts relating to a transformation of nursing education and nursing practice. Focusing on quality as well as quantity of nursing programs, attendees considered issues such as creating a shared vision, collaborative strategies, effective partnerships, open communication, leadership, accountability and respect for stakeholders.  The work of NNEPA garnered national attention and representatives were invited to attend a national nursing summit in 2009 to address nursing education and workforce needs of the country.  The work of NNEPA has continued to evolve and the group has now broadened its scope and organized under the new name of Nevada Alliance for Nursing Excellence.

As the HSS continues to work on these and other special initiatives it will continue providing leadership to promote academic excellence, facilitate strong, integrated health education and research throughout the state, and to enhance and improve health care in Nevada.