SPOKANE, Wash. – Washington State University Spokane’s Native American Health Sciences (NAHS) program will build what is believed to be the nation’s first indigenous-developed and instructed clinical simulation space at the Center for Native American Health on campus.
NAHS will construct 1,045 square feet of clinical space to include a patient exam simulation room, a hospital patient exam simulation room, a teaching and mediation room, and storage for the clinical simulation spaces and accompanying healing modalities.
The project is funded through a $250,000 grant from Bank of America as part of the company’s focus on advancing racial equality and economic opportunity. In recognition of this commitment, the space will be called the Bank of America Indigenous Clinical Simulation Suites.
“Throughout our histories and across the world, it has taken the listening ears, minds and hearts of our allies and friends who wanted to see a more peaceful, kind and equitable world,” said Naomi Bender, director of WSU Spokane’s Native American Health Sciences program. “Through this generous gift, Bank of America is honoring what so many others have set aside: Our ways of knowing and healing. Bank of America is investing in a future where our health care workforce will begin to eliminate health disparities through culturally-centered knowledge and practices that counterbalance western views, instead of perpetuating them.”
Students and clinicians in the center will gain a holistic view of care with the help of Native instructors in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and allied health, and areas of traditional healing perspectives. The clinical simulation space will allow students—both Native and otherwise—the opportunity to learn about indigenous health and wellness from Native healers.
“This program is creating pathways for Native American communities by reimagining both education and patient care in a way that is uniquely influenced by those it will serve,” said Kurt Walsdorf, Bank of America Spokane president. “Our partners at NAHS are providing a strong curriculum that tackles health disparities for tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, while also developing a diverse future workforce. We appreciate the invaluable contributions of Dr. Bender and all those involved for ensuring that our region is a beacon for positive change.”
Additionally, NAHS is developing a 12‑credit Interprofessional Indigenous Healing Perspectives certificate that will use the newly constructed clinical simulation wing to advance cultural safety practices in medicine. The certificate will be available both in‑person and online for learners across the nation.
The center, which opened in early 2021, also represents a major milestone of WSU Spokane’s NAHS efforts to recruit, retain and serve Native and non‑Native students, and tribal community partners. Native American pre‑health students matriculating to WSU systemwide increased by 30% this most recent academic year, and WSU Spokane saw even greater growth, with a 50% increase in Native students matriculating to the medicine, nursing and pharmacy programs.
With this grant, NAHS also aims to provide support, space, training, collaborations and other work with tribal communities across the nation.
Currently, WSU Spokane boasts 45 Native American students and NAHS serves 189 WSU Native American pre‑health students, most of whom are on the Pullman campus. The Center is open to all students and acts as an educational space for Native students and their peers. NAHS also hosts outreach events and programs at 47 public high schools and more than 30 tribal high schools in the Pacific Northwest.
This is WSU and Bank of America’s second recent collaboration, including a $250,000 grant to help launch the Spinout Space in Spokane (sp³nw), a new life sciences incubator to launch start-up companies.