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Health consortium receives funds for teaching health center

SPOKANE, Wash. – A Spokane health consortium will receive a $900,000 appropriation from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration to ease the shortage of physicians in Spokane and eastern Washington and support an interprofessional teaching health facility for students in medical sciences, nursing, pharmacy and other health sciences.

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UW, WSU Spokane announce plans for medical education growth

SPOKANE, Wash. – WSU Spokane and the University of Washington School of Medicine  will jointly ask legislators to allocate the money needed to fund 40 new permanent medical education seats in Spokane over a four-year period.

Paul G. Ramsey, M.D., CEO of UW Medicine and Dean of the UW School of Medicine (UWSOM) and WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown announced that goal Wednesday at the Greater Spokane Incorporated annual meeting at the Spokane Convention Center.

Ramsey says the larger classes would fulfill a very real need for physicians in Northwest communities.

“The Washington WWAMI program turns away many qualified students despite the large unmet need for medical care in many of our communities,” Ramsey said. “The demand for physicians is growing quickly. We need more doctors.”

If the legislature allocates the money necessary to expand medical education, WSU Spokane could host as many as 80 first-year and 80 second-year medical students by the end of this decade.

That would not only mark a large increase in the number of medical students taught in Spokane, it would also enlarge the pool of potential new physicians who would be available to work in eastern and central Washington. That could help ease a physician shortage in Washington, particularly in rural areas.

Ramsey says WWAMI will also have to develop additional teaching relationships with Washington hospitals and clinics to create more clinical learning opportunities before the larger classes reach the clinical part of their training.


Spokane’s medical education history

Spokane’s hospitals have hosted third- and fourth-year medical students since the early 1970s when the UWSOM’s WWAMI (Washington Wyoming Alaska Montana Idaho) medical education program was founded. WSU was an early partner, teaching first-year medical students on its Pullman campus.

In 2008, WSU began teaching classes of 20 first-year WWAMI medical students on its Spokane campus. This fall, WSU Spokane added 19 second-year students as part of a program that is testing a new model of delivering medical education. This is the first time WWAMI second-year students have been trained outside of Seattle.

The growth will continue next fall when WSU will merge its two WWAMI first-year programs; students previously trained in the WSU Pullman program will instead be trained at WSU Spokane. That means Spokane will welcome 40 first-year students, in addition to the group of up to 20 second-year students.

Under the plan announced by Ramsey and Brown, 20 first-year medical student positions would be added to the WWAMI Spokane program in 2015 and an additional 20 positions would be added in 2017. This would result in a total of 80 first-year students per year at WWAMI Spokane. Brown says the university is ready to handle that growth.

“With our new Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences building (scheduled to open in January), WSU Spokane is in good position to house those students,” she said. The building is designed for medical classes as large as 80.

“We’re excited that children in Spokane and eastern Washington can look forward to the possibility of training to become doctors without having to move away from their families,” Brown said.


About WSU Spokane

WSU Spokane is Washington State University’s urban health sciences campus. Located in the heart of the University District near downtown Spokane, WSU Spokane prepares the state’s future generations of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals, and houses world-class research that leads to healthier people and communities. Learn more about WSU’s growing health sciences campus at


About UW School of Medicine

The UW School of Medicine trains medical students, residents, undergraduate and graduate students in biomedical sciences; physician assistants through the MEDEX program; physical and occupational therapists; and other allied health professionals. The school is widely recognized as one of the nation’s top medical schools and is one of the few in the world that excels at both research and primary care.

For 18 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school No. 1 nationally in primary-care education. Training programs in family medicine, internal medicine, women’s health, geriatrics, pediatrics and AIDS rank among the nation’s best.

The school is the sole public medical school for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI) offering education, research collaboration, and clinical and telemedicine support to the region. An international leader in biomedical research, the school consistently ranks first among all public medical schools and second among all medical schools, public and private, in National Institutes of Health grant funding.

The UW School of Medicine is an entity of UW Medicine, which also includes Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, UW Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians and Airlift Northwest. Visit for details.



WWAMI—the five-state regional medical education partnership between the University of Washington School of Medicine and the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho—began in 1971-72. The UW School of Medicine partners with these states and their state universities to train the next generation of physicians for cities and rural areas throughout this five-state region. No other medical school in the nation offers training for such a broad geographic region and no other public medical school in the nation offers training for more than one state.

Through its regional offerings and innovations, WWAMI is a model for other medical schools nationwide in distributed medical education. The WWAMI program has resulted in very high return rates of medical students to their home states to practice medicine. Rural states traditionally have a difficult time attracting physicians to practice but the WWAMI program has expanded the ability of the five participant states to maintain adequate numbers of physicians to care for their populations. WWAMI has been widely cited as a landmark program; as a result of WWAMI, the UW School of Medicine has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for rural health training for 22 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report rankings of professional schools.


Fundraising goal met for second-year medical education

Lisa Brown, WSU Spokane chancellor


SPOKANE, Wash. – WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown announced Wednesday that a private fundraising drive to cover some of the costs of a new second-year medical education program in Spokane has reached its $2.3 million goal.

Brown made her announcement during a joint appearance with University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) Dean Paul Ramsey at the Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) annual meeting at the Convention Center.

In 2011, the UWSOM and WSU announced plans for a two-year pilot to test a new method of delivering the second-year curriculum. Ramsey and then-WSU Provost Warwick Bayly told Spokane business leaders they would need to commit $2.3 million to cover much of the cost of that.

Spokane medical education donors:

  • Empire Health Foundation
  • Avista Corporation
  • William H. Cowles Foundation
  • Providence Health Care
  • Washington Trust Bank
  • Sterling Savings
  • Rosauers Supermarket Inc.
  • Inland Northwest Health Services
  • Kalispel Tribe
  • J. P. Morgan Chase Foundation
  • Spokane Teachers Credit Union
  • Asuris Northwest Health
  • Group Health
  • Bank of America

The Empire Health Foundation gave the first $850,000 and a GSI committee led by local leaders Marty Dickinson and Tom Quigley began canvassing the area’s largest corporations for the remaining $1.45 million. During the next 18 months, they secured donations from at least 14 companies and foundations (complete list below).

“This would not be possible without the long-time leadership of Rich Hadley from GSI,” Brown said. She also credited Avista CEO Scott Morris, who co-chaired the local medical education steering committee with WSU President Elson S. Floyd.

Nineteen medical students, including 15 who studied in Spokane last year and chose to return for the second year, have started their studies this fall. They’re learning in a small-group, case- and discussion-based model adopted by other medical schools around the country. It’s different than the large class lecture format used primarily for classes in Seattle.

Brown and Ramsey also announced Wednesday their intention to increase medical education enrollments in Spokane to as high as 80 students per class by the end of this decade.

The addition of the second-year program means a medical student can start and finish her training in Spokane without having to leave.

It also means that WSU’s health sciences campus, which includes medical education, continues to have an overwhelmingly positive effect on the regional economy.

“An outside consultant has verified that we’ve already seen substantial economic impact from medical education growth on the WSU Spokane campus,” Hadley said.

That consultant, Tripp Umbach, estimates the annual impact of WSU’s health sciences campus, including the medical education program, at $350 million.

About WSU Spokane

WSU Spokane is Washington State University’s urban health sciences campus. Located in the heart of the University District near downtown Spokane, WSU Spokane prepares the state’s future generations of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals, and houses world-class research that leads to healthier people and communities. Learn more about WSU’s growing health sciences campus at

About Greater Spokane Incorporated

Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), the Spokane region’s Chamber and Economic Development organization, has been creating something greater for Spokane and the Inland Northwest since 1881. GSI is charged with the mission of growing jobs and business investment through robust programs in economic and workforce development, public policy and small business.GSI is funded through a combination of private and public investment, including 1,200 private-sector member investors; Spokane County; Washington State Department of Commerce; and the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Airway Heights, Medical Lake and Newport, as well as the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. For more information, visit or contact us at 509-624-1393 or 1 800 SPOKANE.


Gates Foundation funds expand trauma intervention

Natalie Turner, assistant director of the Washington State University Area Health Educations Center, leads a workshop for Bemiss Elementary School teachers. Photo courtesy of Jane Stevens, editor


SPOKANE, Wash. – Children in two Seattle Public Schools elementary schools will soon have a better chance at academic success, thanks to a collaborative effort to expand a successful school-based trauma intervention program.

Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) of Eastern Washington, a unit of Washington State University Extension, were recently awarded a three-year $651,345 grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a project to replicate and enhance an evidence-based model used in Spokane schools.

The project will be implemented in partnership with Seattle Public Schools — specifically Beacon Hill International School and Olympic Hills Elementary School — the City of Seattle Office for Education, and Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic.

Multiple, complex trauma events

The goal of the project is to maximize the potential for school success for all children by addressing the needs of children who have experienced multiple traumatic events, or complex trauma. Such events may include homelessness; parents’ divorce or separation; being exposed to or witnessing domestic violence; or substance abuse by a family member.


“With about a quarter to a third of U.S. children affected, complex trauma is truly a national public health crisis,” said Christopher Blodgett, director of AHEC and the lead investigator for WSU. “It has been shown to directly compromise the success of schools, particularly those in high poverty areas. If schools are to improve academic outcomes, addressing complex trauma should be central to their educational mission.”

Mitigating the effects of trauma

As part of this project, the partners will implement a model developed by Blodgett and his team that improves school practices and trains teachers and other school staff to help mitigate the effects of trauma. They will also explore how the model might enhance existing practice for school-based health clinics.

The project will be conducted as an integrated part of the established work plans of Seattle’s Families and Education Levy, which supports programs and initiatives that help Seattle’s children be safe, healthy, and ready to learn. Beacon Hill International School has a partnership with Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, which provides school-based health care funded by levy dollars.

“This grant will help children who have experienced trauma to get the emotional support they need and learn coping skills to succeed in school and life,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

Link to adult health problems

“Many adult health problems — including chronic diseases, depression, suicide, being violent and being a victim of violence — can be traced to childhood trauma. If we can reduce the impacts of childhood trauma, we can improve not only success in school, but also lifelong health,” said Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

The King County project builds on earlier work undertaken by Blodgett and his team. In 2010, AHEC received grants from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Gates Foundation to integrate trauma response and social emotional learning into Spokane-based early learning programs and eastern Washington elementary schools, respectively. Last year, a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provided funding to implement the program in more than 40 schools and small districts across Washington state.

“We want to thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for funding this important work,” said Pegi McEvoy, assistant superintendent of operations for Seattle Public Schools. “We recognize that many students struggle with social, emotional and behavioral issues that make it difficult for them to achieve academically. This project helps further our mission to support the academic success of our students, and builds on our ongoing partnership with Public Health – Seattle & King County.”


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Five-state medical program looks to the future


SEATTLE – Officials at the University of Washington, Washington State University and the University of Idaho have announced a future change in the location of 20 first-year WWAMI regional medical education program medical students from WSU Pullman to WSU Spokane.

WWAMI is a partnership between the University of Washington School of Medicine and the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho that provides publicly supported medical education for the five-state region. The WWAMI name is derived from the first letter of the names of each of the five partner states.

UI and WSU



“Currently, we have 25 students based at University of Idaho and 20 students based at WSU Pullman,” explained Suzanne Allen, UW School of Medicine vice dean for regional affairs and head of the WWAMI program. “The two campuses are very close to one another and these 45 students train together on both campuses throughout their first year. Starting in fall 2014, pending approval from our accrediting agency, the students currently based at WSU Pullman will receive their training through the WWAMI Spokane program on the WSU Health Sciences campus instead.”

The planned change will provide an opportunity for additional expansion of the University of Idaho WWAMI program, said Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Washington. Idaho and Washington are both working to expand their physician workforces to address physician shortages in each state, and the Idaho State Legislature recently approved funding for five additional medical students starting this fall (bringing the Idaho class from 20 to 25). Idaho is planning further growth that will bring first-year classes up to 40 students.

Move to Spokane

Moving WSU’s WWAMI students to Spokane has been anticipated for some time and will now coincide with the expansion of the University of Idaho’s WWAMI class size. The gradual increase of Idaho medical students will allow for a reasonable transition period to assess possible space and capacity improvements on the Moscow campus.


“As a WWAMI partner for more than 40 years, we are pleased that WSU’s plans will dovetail with our own,” said Don Burnett, interim president of the University of Idaho. “Both universities will continue their long-standing relationship with the University of Washington, providing exceptionally high-quality medical education through a remarkably cost-effective arrangement.”

Clinical training in Pullman

Although WSU Pullman will no longer serve as a classroom site for students, it will continue to be an active site for clinical training.


“The University of Idaho/WSU relationship remains strong and the WSU Pullman faculty are committed to continuing to educate medical students in the Moscow/Pullman area,” said Elson Floyd, president of the four-campus WSU system. “This is an exciting opportunity for Idaho to expand its number of physicians and, as the WWAMI Spokane program grows, for Washington to increase its physician workforce as well.”

UW President Michael Young also voiced his strong support for the change. “The collaborations forged between key universities in the WWAMI program are a superb example of educational partnership at its best,” Young said. “This latest planned move opens the door to better addressing regional health system needs — which is what WWAMI is about.”

Easily accommodated

The 20 students to be relocated from the Pullman site to the WWAMI site in Spokane will be accommodated easily with the opening of the Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building later this year on the WSU Health Sciences campus. Currently, the WWAMI Spokane program trains a first-year class of 20 students per year. The relocation of the 20 Pullman students to WWAMI Spokane will expand the total number of first-year students training there to 40 per year.


“We are very excited about having an additional 20 first-year students starting in 2014,” said Ken Roberts, director of the WWAMI Spokane program. “We have the faculty, facilities and programs in place and are eager to train these students.”

Second-year pilot program

In addition, WWAMI Spokane will be the site of a second-year pilot starting in fall 2013 in which up to 20 medical students per year for two years will complete their second year on the WSU Health Sciences campus. In the past, students from all of the WWAMI sites completed this training at the UW campus in Seattle.

The Legislature this year approved funding to make the pilot permanent, allowing for the enrollment of 40 first-year students and 40 second-year students within a few years.

Largest geographic program in nation

Through the WWAMI program, which began in 1971-72, the UW School of Medicine partners with the five participating states and their state universities to train the next generation of physicians for cities and rural areas throughout the region. No other medical school in the nation offers training for such a broad geographic region and no other public medical school in the nation offers training for more than one state. Through its regional offerings and innovations, WWAMI is a model for other medical schools nationwide in distributed medical education.

Rural practice in home state

The WWAMI program has resulted in very high return rates of medical students to their home states to practice medicine. Rural states traditionally have a difficult time attracting physicians to practice, but the WWAMI program has expanded the ability of the five participant states to maintain adequate numbers of physicians to care for their populations. WWAMI has been widely cited as a landmark program; as a result, the UW School of Medicine has been rated No. 1 in the nation for rural health training for 21 consecutive years and is rated No. 2 for primary care training in U.S. News & World Report rankings of professional schools. WSU was one of the founding university partners in the WWAMI system and has had first-year medical students at the Pullman campus since the beginning of the program. WWAMI Spokane became a first-year WWAMI site in 2008. The University of Idaho WWAMI site has been in operation since 1971.

WSU Spokane receives New Communication Award

SPOKANE – WSU Spokane is the winner of the 2009 Excellence in New Communications Award for Academic Microblogging, announced at the 4th Annual SNCR Excellence in New Communications Awards gala at the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge, Mass. on Friday, November 6, 2009.

The Society for New Communications Research Awards program ( honors innovative organizations that are pioneering the use of social media, ICT, mobile media, online communities, and collaborative technologies in the mass media markets.
The WSU Spokane Twitter account was the basis for the award, which helped establish an identity for WSU Spokane as a knowledgeable source of information on health sciences, health policy, and health professions research and graduate/professional education.

“WSU Spokane’s program is an impressive example of the successful and innovative use of new tools, technologies, solutions and practices to enhance communications and relationships,” said Jen McClure, founder and president of the Society.

Barb Chamberlain, WSU Spokane director of communications and public affairs, manages the campus Twitter account. “It is such an honor to have our work recognized by an international organization that conducts high-level peer-reviewed research on new media and communications,” said Chamberlain. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of WSU Spokane Chancellor Brian Pitcher for our communications office work on new communications initiatives, or without the followers who appreciate our content and talk with us on Twitter.”



Native Americans get hands-on with healthcare

SPOKANE – WSU’s Native American Recruitment and Retention (NARR) program is helping to address the critical healthcare provider shortage
through a hands-on educational experience that introduces high school students to a variety of health professions.
From June 21 to the 27, the 14th annual Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Science Institute at WSU Spokane will provide 25 high school students from 19 Native American tribes with an understanding that they can make a difference in their own community by studying to become health professionals. Guided 24/7 by current Native American nursing students serving as the counselors for the week, the high schoolers will be able to see and ask what it takes to succeed in a health degree program.
“My hope in attending this camp is to get a first-hand look at working in a health care environment,” said Karina Farr of the Squaxin Island Tribe. “I believe it will assist me in focusing my decision on which branch of the industry I will put my energy toward, even though currently, I am striving for a career in pediatric medicine. I hope that one day I could help care for the children of the Squaxin Island Tribe.” 
The U.S. is facing a critical healthcare provider shortage. Unfortunately, the shortage is even greater in Native populations. According to a 2003 article in the “Institute of Medicine,” there is strong evidence that a healthcare workforce reflecting the diversity of its people is able to provide better quality care than one that does not.
Na-ha-shnee brings together many Native American healthcare professionals who will create awareness for the need of native healthcare professionals now and in the future. They will provide mini educational workshops in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, speech and hearing, psychiatric/mental health nursing, family nurse practitioner, exercise physiology and nutrition. Returning students to the program will receive a more-in-depth experience including the opportunity to tour Deaconess Medical Center and job shadow healthcare professionals at St. Lukes Rehabilitation Hospital.
Topics include history, culture, healthcare needs of Native Americans, first aid and CPR, gathering of traditional medicines, Native American
teachings, basic nursing skills, leadership skills, team building activities, diabetes education, substance abuse and sex education. The students will also experience a variety of activities including; a trip to WSU CityLab to conduct DNA experiments with Dr. Sylvia Oliver; a pharmacy lab experiment with Dr. Jennifer Robison from the College of Pharmacy where they will make hand lotion compound; and a trip to the WSU Pullman campus to visit the human anatomy lab.
“Most of the experience the students will have during their week will be new, challenging and thought provoking,” said Robbie Paul, NARR Director for Health Sciences at WSU Spokane. “Many of these students want to find a career where they can help other people and healthcare professions are ideal for that desire. The concept of giving back to your community is a fundamental ideology of Native American culture.”
The camp will culminate with an award ceremony reception at Whitworth University. Paul, who is from the Nez Perce Tribe, will be giving the closing address along with awarding certificates of completion to students. Pat Moses from the Spokane Tribe will be doing an honor song and blessing for the students and parents.
The 14th Annual Na-ha-shnee Native American High School Heath Sciences Institute is sponsored by the WSU College of Nursing Trude Smith Native American Endowment, WSU Creighton Endowment, Plateau Native American Scholarship, WSU College of Pharmacy with a grant received from Walgreens, and additional support from WSU Pullman WWAMI Medical Education Program. The result of an earlier student leadership exercise to give the summer institute a Native American-sounding name, Na-ha-shnee is an amalgamation of the words Native American High School Summer Nursing Institute. It has no literal translation in any tribal language.


Students help envision carousel home

“Go for the gold ring” was the theme of the winning proposed design to create a new home for the Spokane carousel, developed by students of the Interdisciplinary Design Institute at WSU Spokane.
During the 10th annual fall design charrette, 28 interdisciplinary teams worked for 48 hours seeking to replace the home of the historic Looff Carousel in Riverfront Park.
The designs were judged by a panel of professionals from the university and community. Eight teams received awards.
The winner of the top Honor Award incorporated the idea of reaching for the prize — the brass or gold ring traditionally captured by carousel patrons, who then win a free ride. The concept was used in the building’s circular design, in suspended glass rings that reflect light and in a “reaching” staircase that leads to a view of the Spokane River.
The design combines historical education and tradition with new materials, amenities and location to enhance the facility as a gathering destination for the community.
“This project was not just about creating a building to house the carousel,” said Darrin Griechen, visiting assistant professor for the Interdisciplinary Design Institute. “It also was about creating a special sense of place within the park and the city. The students accomplished this very well.”
Ritzville hosts encore project
Four teams of design students will immerse themselves in Ritzville culture to study and design a city center concept around the primary downtown intersection. This project follows a 2005 project of the WSU Spokane Interdisciplinary Design Institute to convert the town’s old high school into a community center.
That project — Ritzville Community Development — can be found ONLINE @ under Research & Service, Design Portfolio.
(From the Adams County Journal)

Project Hope students visit campus today

SPOKANE – Twenty-five high school students from eastern Washington will wrap up their Health Operations Preparatory Experience (H.O.P.E.) internships with a campus visit at Washington State University Spokane Friday from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

While touring the campus, students will attend presentations about the various health programs offered at WSU Spokane and get information about financial aid and applying to college. They will also participate in a dental camp hosted by Eastern Washington University’s dental lab.

The part-time summer internships, sponsored by Project H.O.P.E., provide high school students from diverse backgrounds and underserved populations the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in various health sciences fields. Through the program, students are placed at health care facilities within their local communities to explore different health sciences careers. Students are encouraged to use their internship to ask questions, observe procedures, and learn about the opportunities available in the health sciences.

Project H.O.P.E. is funded by the Washington State Department of Health, facilitated by the Office of Community and Rural Health, and coordinated by the Area Health Education Center of Eastern Washington. Project H.O.P.E. is designed to provide internship opportunities for ethnically diverse students living in rural, underserved areas.