LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The UNLV School of Medicine is officially an accredited institution. This means it is meeting or exceeding national standards.

This title could help stop the shortage of doctors in the state.

Nevada has one of the lowest rates of doctors per capita in the country.

The dean of the UNLV School of Medicine says having this accredited medical school in Southern Nevada will not only help retain doctors but could help expand the types of procedures that are offered to the community.

“This is great news for UNLV and its great news for our community,” said Dr. Marc Kahn, Dean for the UNLV School of Medicine.

Dean Kahn says the accreditation process was years in the making and is a crucial step in addressing the shortage of medical workers in Nevada.

“I think we’re really victims of our large influx of population, which is a good thing, but the healthcare industry never quite caught up,” Dean Kahn said.

This shortage also has to do with a lack of residency positions, which is an essential step to becoming a doctor.

There are only 400 residency positions in Nevada, compared to the 19,000 positions in New York. This means many medical students are going out-of-state for their training and not coming back.

“We really want our students, whether they do their residencies in state or not, we’d like them to, but we recognize there’s really not enough physicians in the state, we want them to come back and practice here,” Dean Kahn said. “So, having a fully accredited medical school is really important to obtain that goal.”

By expanding residency programs, it will allow students to focus on more specialties such as urology, pediatrics, and ophthalmology. In doing so, families in Southern Nevada will receive even more options for care. 

“We don’t do liver transplants here in the state, we don’t do bone marrow transplants in the state. These are no longer experimental protocols; these are standard of care,” Dean Khan said. “It’s my hope and my plan that over time we’re going to develop each and every one of these. Because after all, this is what our population deserves.”

UNLV now joins around 150 other accredited medical schools in the nation, including University of Nevada — Reno.