SEATTLE – Efforts to establish a new college of medicine at Washington State University received a boost of private support from Bellevue, Wash., businessman and WSU alumnus Mikal Thomsen. He has committed $100,000 to directly support founding and operation of the WSU medical college proposed in Spokane.
“The state of Washington should have enough doctors in the right places to take care of its citizens’ health care needs today and in the future. That is not the case today and the trend is headed in the wrong direction,” said Thomsen, co-founder and partner at Trilogy Equity Partners.
“I believe WSU is proposing a practical and sustainable solution that will educate more doctors in our state and prepare them for careers in communities that desperately need their services,” he said.
“Mikal’s generous support of WSU’s efforts to establish a medical college in Spokane represents an important lead investment in this university’s ability to expand access to health care across our state,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “We sincerely thank Mikal Thomsen for his leadership and vision, and we look forward to nurturing many more public-private partnerships to bolster our state’s ability to place more skilled physicians in the communities that need them most.”
Building on established assets
A feasibility study conducted last summer found that the state is not training enough doctors to satisfy the growing demand for health care, especially in underserved populations and geographic areas. WSU has invested more than $208 million to date for state-of-the-art facilities to house health sciences research and teaching programs.
With the physical and faculty infrastructure in place and a commitment to serving the needs of communities across the state, WSU is pursuing creation of the state’s second fully accredited, publicly funded medical school.
“WSU already has significant assets in place to support a medical school, including a robust health sciences campus that is home to our nursing, pharmacy and medical sciences programs,” Floyd said. “We also have a critical mass of faculty expertise, cutting-edge facilities and more than 40 years of experience in medical education. WSU is well-positioned to significantly add physician capacity in our state.”
Innovative, effective community-based model
WSU’s proposed college of medicine will employ a model that establishes collaborative partnerships with existing clinic networks throughout the state. This interdisciplinary, community-based model has been pioneered successfully in many other states, where it has proven to be cost-effective and to promote a better distribution of physicians into rural and underserved communities.
“I am very familiar with the underserved areas throughout the state that need more doctors,” said Thomsen, who grew up in unincorporated Pierce County and whose parents and grandparents were also raised in rural Washington communities.
“As the state’s land grant research university, WSU is uniquely positioned to deliver innovative solutions to improving access to health care for communities statewide,” he said. “WSU’s solution puts doctors where they are desperately needed.”
Thomsen hopes others will join him in making a financial commitment to this effort.
“The problem is bad and getting worse,” he said. “We need to find and fund a solution. I hope my support will help inspire others to make their own financial commitments to help transform this good idea into a viable solution.
“WSU has an established medical campus in Spokane and can move quickly and cheaply to add a full medical school to those facilities with both public and private support,” he said.
Legislation and more information
State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, a Republican, and state Rep. Marcus Riccelli, a Democrat, introduced bills recently to change a 1917 law limiting delivery of medical education to the University of Washington. Passage would clear the way for WSU to operate a medical school.
WSU also seeks an appropriation of $2.5 million in this year’s state operating budget to begin the accreditation process.
For more information about WSU’s proposed medical college, visit http://medicine.wsu.edu.