PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University is well positioned to create its own accredited medical school, according to MGT of America.

The national consulting firm hired by WSU presented the findings of its medical school feasibility study to the Board of Regents today in Pullman. The board will take action on Friday.

The report says WSU could help to alleviate a physician shortage in areas outside the Seattle metropolitan area. It says the state isn’t training enough doctors to satisfy the growing demand for health care, especially in underserved populations and geographic areas.

Currently, Washington has two medical schools. The publicly-funded University of Washington School of Medicine, which admits 120 students from Washington per year, about half the enrollment of its five-state WWAMI (Washington Wyoming Alaska Montana Idaho) program. (WSU has been a participant in WWAMI since 1971.) The privately funded osteopathic school, Pacific Northwest University in Yakima, admits another 135-145 students per year.

MGT’s report concludes that isn’t nearly enough to satisfy the current demand. It estimates Washington will need to train up to 400 additional medical students a year by 2030 just to meet the national average.

“The need for more primary care physicians throughout the majority of Washington is critical and well documented,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “This report reaffirms Washington State University’s ability to help address that need.”

The report says WSU is a strong candidate for a medical school because it already has the physical and faculty infrastructure in place WSU has been educating medical students through WWAMI for more than 40 years.

WSU has a much higher state of readiness to begin the accreditation process than most of the new medical schools that have been accredited over the past decade, according to the report.

“WSU has proven its commitment to Spokane, underserved areas and medical education for many years, from taking the initiative to develop the campus, to more recently, partnering to increase medical residencies,” said WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown. “This report acknowledges that work.”

Ken Roberts, acting College of Medical Sciences dean, agreed.

“The Medical Sciences faculty is eager to take this next step. We have a great mix of research faculty and clinical doctors from the Inland Northwest who are already providing high-quality medical education,” he said.

The executive summary and the full MGT report are posted at medicine.wsu.edu.

Contacts:

Kathy Barnard, University Communications, (509) 335-8055, kbarnard@wsu.edu

Terren Roloff, WSU Spokane, (509) 358-7527, terren.roloff@wsu.edu

Doug Nadvornick, WSU Spokane, (509) 358-7540, doug.nadvornick@wsu.edu