PULLMAN, Wash. – Given the dire need for more doctors in the state of Washington, currently and in the future, Washington State University has a responsibility to pursue an independently accredited medical school at WSU Spokane, according to members of the WSU Board of Regents.
The board unanimously approved a resolution this morning directing university leadership to “pursue approval for an independently accredited school of medicine while maintaining the university’s commitment to (University of Washington School of Medicine’s) WWAMI as the program’s largest partner.”
“The easy path for us to take would be to support the status quo,” said Regent Scott Carson, noting how compelling data presented Thursday was. “We have never shirked away from our responsibility as the land-grant institution. So the easy path doesn’t work for us. The data tells us there’s a need and we should move forward to fill that need.”
The resolution came after a lengthy presentation on Thursday by representatives from MGT of America, the national consulting firm hired by WSU to study the feasibility of the university pursuing its own medical school. The report says WSU could help to alleviate a severe 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. And, it says, WSU is better positioned that many schools to pursue a medical school.
The institution has designated WSU Spokane as its health sciences campus and consolidated its nursing, pharmacy and medical sciences programs there. Over the past two decades, WSU has invested more than $208 million in capital construction, including most recently the decision to build a Teaching Health Center on the Spokane campus. It also has invested more than 100 faculty positions on that campus.
In addition, WSU has been providing first-year medical education for more than 40 years in partnership with the UW School of Medicine’s remote-site medical education program for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI). The regents emphasized their commitment to remain the largest partner within the WWAMI consortium.
“There is no question that the excellence of the University of Washington program is a real blessing to the state,” said Regent Laura Jennings. “But, this is not an either/or proposition. This is a yes/and proposition. We need both WWAMI and a new medical school to meet the needs.”
WSU President Elson S. Floyd called the board’s resolution “an important first step.” He said he and others would be meeting with policy-makers around the state in advance of the 2015 Washington legislative session.
The resolution approved by the Regents and the feasibility study are posted at medicine.wsu.edu.
In other business, the board also approved:
- Renaming the Murrow West Building on the Pullman campus to Keith M. Jackson Hall, after renowned sportscaster and WSU alumnus Keith M. Jackson
- Design and construction of a new Digital Classroom Facility on the Pullman campus. The technology-rich facility will enable faculty to use a variety of new and emerging teaching methods.
- Design and construction of the new Spokane Teaching Health Center at WSU Spokane. The center is a Washington non-profit corporation formed to serve as the teaching health center for graduate medical education, provide primary health care services and serves as the institutional sponsor. Members of the consortium including Providence Health and services, WSU and Empire Health Foundation
- Design and construction of a new home for the WSU Police Department on Grimes Way on the Pullman campus. The new facility will replace the department’s current location in the Public Safety Building in the center of campus, which will be removed to accommodate construction of a new WSU Museum of Art Building
- Approved bonding totaling no more than $78.5 million to pay for the Digital Classroom, Teaching Health Center and Police Department Building
Video download information: Soundbites from WSU President Elson s. Floyd, WSU Regent Scott Carson & WSU Regent Laura Jennings are available for download. Go to www.mediatransfer.wsu.edu and login using “wsunews2” as the login and password. Click on the download button to send files to your computer.
Kathy Barnard, University Communications, (509) 335-8055, firstname.lastname@example.org