“This year’s campaign will support the class scholarship for the first-year Class of 2025,” said Annette Carter, the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine senior director of development. “We’re honored to have retired physicians Drs. Philip and Ami Vaughn providing a matching gift for the first $20,000 in donations.” Funds raised will purchase 60 white coats, as well as fund an endowed class scholarship — one that provides scholarships in perpetuity — which will be distributed to incoming medical school students. Once they have finished residencies and fellowships, the class will support their class scholarship throughout their careers. Because of this, endowed class scholarships can often grow to be quite significant, supporting many students over the years. After careers spent in pediatrics — Philip Vaughn specialized in neonatology — the doctors Vaughn said their decision to lead the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine’s White Coat Campaign came about because they wanted to help broaden support for the education of physicians grounded in evidence-based medicine. They believe the school’s commitment to academic medicine and an academic health center — where the medical school works in concert with the UNLV Schools of Public Health, Integrated Health Sciences, Dental Medicine and Nursing — is a key part of transforming healthcare in Southern Nevada.
The event is now scheduled for Feb. 25 from 2-4 p.m. in the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall on the main UNLV campus. The observance includes speakers and a student-written oath — each year the new class of 60 medical students writes its own — that is recited in front of family, school leadership, and peers to acknowledge their central obligation: Caring for patients. But the scheduled Sept. 4, 2020 ceremony for the Class of 2024 — the ritual includes each first-year student being presented with a white coat, symbolizing entrance into the medical profession — never took place thanks to the pandemic.
For the second time in the medical school’s short four-and-a-half year history, the school is involving the entire community through the White Coat Campaign. Even though the ceremony will most likely be largely limited to families because of COVID-19, the community can once again show its support by donating to the campaign. “I think the white coat ceremony makes everything more real,” Inciong, who was a valedictorian at Liberty High School in Henderson, said. “When you’re just taking classes, it can’t be as real as when you put that coat on. It’s special to anyone on the journey to becoming a doctor. This is something we’ve been waiting for.”
He said the school is so new it doesn’t have what many older medical schools have — alumni established in their careers. “Right now, students at the Kirk Kerkorian School are pursuing residencies and don’t have a lot in the way of financial resources,” he said. “I’d like physicians in this area to think of this school as one of theirs, to realize its importance, and how it will help uplift the entire community.”
Philip Vaughn, who served in a neonatology medical practice director position with the Valley Hospital System in Las Vegas prior to retirement, says he hopes physicians in Southern Nevada will be especially supportive of the White Coat Campaign. “I know how important scholarships are: they played a large role in my getting through medical school,” said Ami Vaugh, who before retiring to Las Vegas launched and developed a pediatric clinic for the Center for Family Health in Fillmore, California. “It takes off pressure so you can concentrate on your studies.”
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