James M Alexander, MDD., an experienced leader and OB/GYN physician, is regularly in the room at the start of something new, so it is fitting that he is one of the first jointly appointed senior clinical leaders in Nevada’s first integrated health system.
As chair of the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Medicine (UNMED) and Renown Health, Dr. Alexander will lead medical and surgical services, academic advancement, research and education programs for the health care system. A 50-year affiliation agreement signed in 2021 cemented the integration of the United Nations Research Med Institute, Nevada’s first medical school, with Renown System, the most comprehensive health system in Northern Nevada.
“Affiliation provides a wonderful opportunity to advance health and healthcare through medical education, clinical research, and patient care for our community and nation,” said Dr. Alexander. “By integrating teaching, research, and patient care, we can make a difference for women and children in Nevada and beyond.”
He is one of the first to be appointed to the position of co-chairman of the two UN companies Medium and Fame.
“Dr. Alexander is a specialized obstetrician and gynecologist who takes pride in his work as a researcher and mentor.” Melissa Biasike, MDActing Dean of the College, and the Renowned Chief Academic Officer. “He has a deep commitment to improving women’s health and advancing the careers of future physicians in this specialty. Our College of Medicine and Health System is very fortunate to employ Dr. Alexander and will benefit from the growth of clinical services, medical education, and clinical research in obstetrics and gynecology under his supervision.”
By advancing medical education in the state in his new role, Dr. Alexander will also help address Nevada’s physician shortage. according to 2022 Physician Workforce in Nevada Chart BookNevada has fewer primary care physicians, dentists, and mental health providers per capita than the United States.
“Shaping the future of healthcare in our state has never been more important than it is now,” said Rahul Mediwala, medical director of the Division of Health Services at Renown Health. “I have no doubt that Dr. Alexander will apply his skills, enthusiasm, and guiding leadership to improve the health of our community by increasing access to care, providing innovative health care, and expanding clinical research.”
Dr. Alexander made recruiting, educating, and retaining obstetricians and gynecologists a top priority because, according to the chart book, Nevada needs to hire more than 80 new obstetricians and gynecologists to reach the national average of physicians per 100,000 people.
“We are primary care physicians for a lot of women who only see obstetrics and gynecology,” he said. So not having enough gynecologists and obstetricians is a big problem, especially in rural areas. Having more OB/GYNs here will improve women’s health in Nevada – no doubt. And my goal is not just to stop there.”
Dr. Alexander, a specialist in maternal and fetal medicine, emphasized the importance of training physicians specializing in gynecological oncology, pelvic medicine, reconstructive surgery, reproductive endocrinology, and infertility.
“Specialists will have access to the latest and best treatment for health challenges such as chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis, cancer, and more,” said Dr. Alexander. “Without access to a specialist nearby, our patients have to travel to another country, and this is a burden and a disincentive to get the care they need. The closer we are to providing care to their home, the better for everyone.”
Research is another important aspect of student education and the impact of the UN Med on the larger community. Dr. Alexander said that combining the resources of UNMED and Renown is a strong opportunity, especially when considering the capabilities of Clinical Research Center.
“The Clinical Research Center can serve as another bridge between UN Med and Renown,” said Dr. Alexander. “Research projects require multi-departmental collaboration and organization, so that they can help facilitate those relationships and those interactions.”
More residents in obstetrics and gynecology need to be trained to increase the number of physicians who can provide this type of treatment in the state. The same is true for the recruitment and retention of outstanding academics, educators, and medical professionals who can guide the next generation of practitioners.
“You can study and learn about the role of a doctor from books. You can simulate some clinical situations,” Dr. Alexander said. “But at some point, you can’t move forward without doing an apprenticeship known as residency because there are so many variations of real-world medicine that you can’t recreate Create it in the classroom. For our students, working with an experienced doctor is crucial.”
Dr. Alexander’s career includes many examples of the relationship between clinical education and practice as a learner and educator.
Dr. Alexander graduated in 1991 from the University of Texas at Houston, and most recently headed the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UNLV’s Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine. He completed his residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern. After completing the fellowship, he was recruited into the faculty at UTSW and held several leadership positions there, including Head of the Obstetric Service.
Dr. Alexander has established himself as a Clinical Investigator at UTSW and has served as a Research Associate on several studies conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Network of Maternal and Fetal Medicine Units. He has published extensively on obstetric and maternal-fetal topics, including caesarean section, prematurity, obstetric complications, management of labor, and anesthesia in delivery. He has contributed to the pioneering book on obstetrics, “Williams Obstetrics.”
After his tenure at UTSW, Dr. Alexander held the positions of Director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Director of Maternal, Fetal and Obstetrics at the Billings Clinic. He is board certified in Obstetrics and Maternal and Fetal Medicine and is currently a member of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
But he’ll also tell you that his college experience managing a lunchtime rush in a water park dining hall was his first class supervising a hospital maternity and delivery unit.
“We had 10,000 visitors a day, and I was a guy who made sure the hamburgers were cooked,” he said. “At noon, it’s a big rush. It’s a crazy house and you can’t keep up. It’s no different from labor and delivery either. For hours there might be a little bit going on in the loneliness, and then all of a sudden, five women show up, all in labor and all in need of Immediate attention. You must learn to handle this spike and ensure they receive optimal care.”
Dr. Alexander wants to impart these teachings to his students and inspire the integrated Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“We have a real desire to do something special here,” he said. “Patient care by itself is enough to go home and call your mom, and she’ll be proud of you. Or tell your family, ‘I’m making a difference.’ But I think these people can even say something more than that at this point. They can say, ‘I’m part of A large, well-respected, regional college-based medical healthcare system that we’ve been working on improving a little bit.”