SPOKANE, Wash. – The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University today received preliminary accreditation – a major milestone that keeps the college on track to enroll its inaugural class of students in August 2017.
The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting agency for MD-granting medical schools in the United States and Canada, communicated news of the preliminary accreditation to John Tomkowiak, founding dean of the Floyd College of Medicine, earlier today.
“This is a significant moment in Washington State University’s 126-year history,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “It puts us one step closer to educating physicians who will practice in Washington’s underserved communities and furthers the university’s land-grant mission to serve the needs of the state.”
The accreditation comes 19 months after Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill that changed state law to allow WSU to offer medical education. The Floyd College of Medicine is the second public medical school in the state – the first in 70 years.
Statewide partnerships key to success
“We are deeply grateful for the ongoing support of the health care community, our legislators and community leaders in Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver and Everett,” Schulz said. “We wouldn’t have reached this milestone without these partnerships.”
The president also credited late WSU President Elson S. Floyd, the medical college’s namesake, for the vision necessary to create a medical school and WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown for efforts to gain approval legislation and initial funding.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic,” Tomkowiak said. “My team has worked so hard to get us to this point. Now we can move ahead with our work to begin recruiting medical students and preparing doctors to meet the state’s health care needs.”
The dean noted that the medical school will recruit talented students from rural and medically underserved communities, first-generation professional students and those with a passion to serve and lead in medical care. These students will have the opportunity to train in varying clinical settings in communities across the state, increasing the likelihood that they will remain there to practice medicine.
“This is a momentous occasion,” said Lura J. Powell, chair of the WSU Board of Regents. “WSU’s mission is rooted in accessibility and service to diverse communities across the state. By training doctors to practice in Washington’s medically underserved communities, the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine embodies the university’s mission – and will improve countless lives.”
Focus on health care gaps in rural, underserved areas
The community-based model of medical education will be offered at four campuses – Everett, Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver – and will help fill critical health care gaps in rural and medically underserved areas of Washington state.
The Floyd College of Medicine also makes a medical education more accessible to Washingtonians. About two-thirds of aspiring medical students from Washington are forced to go to medical school in other states.
“We envision that our effort will significantly change the face of health care in Washington,” Schulz said. In addition to the benefits to patients and aspiring medical students, he noted the medical school will create new research funding opportunities, provide economic stimulus and boost the university’s overall reputation.
The next step for the new medical school is approval for membership by the American Association of Medical Colleges, which meets the end of this month. If that goes as expected, recruitment of the charter class can begin.