WSU College of Medicine receives HRSA grant to create new rural residency program

A medical student interviews a patient.
The Rural Residency Planning and Development Program grant will provide funding for new doctors to participate in a family medicine residency program at Pullman Regional Hospital.

SPOKANE, Wash.–Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine has been informed it will receive a nearly $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to develop a new rural residency program.

The Rural Residency Planning and Development Program grant will be used as start-up funding for a family medicine residency program at Pullman Regional Hospital.

“WSU is working closely with numerous partners to expand rural residency opportunities in eastern Washington,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “This funding is an exciting step in our collective goal to address rural health care needs and solve workforce shortages by effectively training physicians to practice in, and meet the clinical needs of, populations in rural and underserved communities.”

There is significant disparity in residency education in eastern and central Washington, with only 6 percent of the graduate medical education and training programs in the state located east of the Cascades. While approximately 43 percent of medical school graduates will establish a medical practice in the state where they graduate, that number increases to 70 percent when they complete both their undergraduate medical education and their graduate medical education in the state.

Said WSU Health Sciences Chancellor, Daryll DeWald, “WSU Health Sciences is grateful to its partners and their commitment to increasing the number of providers serving eastern Washington’s rural communities and ultimately improving health and lives. This grant is a generous start toward ending the disparity rural areas face in accessing high quality health care providers.”

Awarded to just 27 residency programs nationwide, the grant is a major win for the College of Medicine’s graduate medical education program, led by Jonathan Espenschied, associate dean of graduate medical education. He, along with members of the College of Medicine, are actively pursuing every opportunity to expand residencies across the state.

“We are deeply committed to improving health care quality and access in rural and underserved communities in Washington, and a critical part of our commitment is creating residencies in these communities to increase the chance that students will remain there to practice medicine,” said John Tomkowiak, founding dean of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “This grant helps us take an important step toward increasing medical residencies in the communities where they are needed most.”

“Pullman Regional Hospital is a critical access hospital located in a rural county. This makes it an ideal environment for a family medicine residency program,” said Gerald Early, chief medical officer for Pullman Regional Hospital. “We’re proud to support the training of health care providers in rural areas and help expand rural access to care.”

The RRPD program, administered by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy and Bureau of Health Workforce, is part of a multi-year initiative by HRSA to expand the physician workforce in rural areas by developing new, sustainable residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine, and psychiatry. The recipients of the awards include rural hospitals, community health centers, health centers operated by the Indian Health Service, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, and schools of medicine. The funds will be allocated over a three-year period.

To learn more about the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, visit

Media contact:

  • Christina VerHeul, Director of Communications & Marketing, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, 509-368-6850,

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