UNLV Medicine, no longer. Why change the clinic’s name to UNLV Health?

The UNLV-based faculty practice has evolved beyond the title "UNLV Medicine" and has picked up a new name. Photo courtesy of UNLV Health. https://www.facebook.com/unlvmed/photos/115081823569887

Dr. Michael Gardner, president and CEO of the faculty practice, recently announced a seemingly minor name change from “UNLV Medicine” to “UNLV Health.” However, what seems like a minor name change could potentially become a source of confusion for existing patients. 

Why change the name then? What, if anything, is the difference between “UNLV Medicine” and “UNLV Health”?

Dr. Laura Culley, associate dean for community engagement, is an expert in the community health needs of Las Vegas. She clarified the confusion by saying, “Medical schools are typically called the school of medicine. To have the UNLV School of Medicine and UNLV Medicine is too similar, very confusing. No one really gets that UNLV Medicine is a faculty practice that is separate from the UNLV medical school. It is a completely different entity.”

“UNLV Health” is more than just a strategic move to clear up confusion. The name is instead a recognition of health as a multi-dimensional state, rather than the traditional view of health as the absence of disease. 

“Our focus is more on how to improve the health of individuals and communities by emphasizing prevention, early detection, and treatment. To make someone healthy, one has to integrate all the different components of health—the physical, the mental, the social service, and, I would add, the dental,” Dr. Culley related.

It is no secret that Nevada ranks poorly in quality of healthcare in the United States, with rankings varying from 39th to 49th in the country, depending on the parameters examined. One significant barrier to care in our community is the physician shortage. 

There is no question that the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV and the accompanying faculty practice, UNLV Health, have begun to fill those gaps in our community. 

When the UNLV School of Medicine opened its doors to the first charter class in July of 2017, it brought a transformative institution to Nevada healthcare: UNLV Medicine, the faculty practice of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV. The practice now has over 150 providers, including many specialists who have relocated from all across the United States. 

Dr. Culley was the only living and practicing dean in Las Vegas prior to the founding of the UNLV School of Medicine, and she has a vision for the Las Vegas healthcare community. She sees it serving as a hub that fosters collaboration among agencies and providers to create community-based health care. 

The name change to UNLV Health consummates the patient-centered vision that has driven the UNLV medical institution leaders for years.

Growth and progress stem from moments of discomfort. We have watched the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV grow from but a mere seedling of an idea to a force that is changing the landscape of healthcare in our community. 

While this minor name change may lead to some short-term confusion, ultimately, changing the name distinguishes the two entities for the community. The values that the new name, “UNLV Health,” imbues signify to our community that this practice cares about the patient’s wellness first and foremost.


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