- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has launched an accreditation process that officials said Monday could have students in classrooms by the fall of 2017.

The formal application to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education was called a milestone by university Interim President Donald Snyder and a small step in a long process by Barbara Atkinson, a medical doctor and chairwoman of the campus panel working to start the UNLV School of Medicine.

“Accreditation … will continue well after we’ve welcomed our first class, but this is an important step,” said Atkinson, who began as planning dean in May to head the development and accreditation process. She said southern Nevada needs more health care programs, faculty and graduates.

The liaison committee is the accrediting and standards body for degree-granting medical schools in the U.S. and Canada.

The University of Nevada, Reno, has a medical school. But Snyder called creating another a top priority.

The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents last month asked state lawmakers to allocate almost $27 million in startup funds for the UNLV medical school.

Meanwhile, Atkinson and university officials say they are recruiting faculty, developing educational programming and inviting private support for program development and building construction.

Atkinson said she hoped to have an inaugural class of 60 students in 2017 expand to 120 students by 2021.

The school is expected to improve health care in a region home to 2 million residents and visited by some 40 million tourists a year.

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