Two Spokane-based state lawmakers will pursue $2.5 million to help Washington State University launch its own medical school.
State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, and state Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, will formally announce their bipartisan effort to secure funding for the medical school Tuesday morning during a press conference, said releases from the university and Legislature.
Both also will pursue an amendment to a 1917 law that designated the University of Washington as the only public university allowed to have a medical program in the state.
WSU began investigating the possibility of its own medical program earlier this year. A feasibility report compiled by a national consulting firm and presented to WSU regents in September said the university was in a good position to develop its own medical program and that there is a clear need for more doctors in the state. The school could accept its first medical students as early as 2017.
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Such a medical school likely would be based in Spokane, university officials have said, as WSU’s health sciences campus there has the infrastructure to support the program and medical students are already training there as part of the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, or WWAMI, cooperative headed by the University of Washington. WSU and UW are talking about how to divvy up the resources in Spokane, as WSU chose to leave the cooperative in early October.
WSU’s medical school likely would have a presence throughout the state, including in the Tri-Cities. University officials have said the school would practice community-based medical education, meaning third- and fourth-year students would be sent to clinical campuses around the state — including WSU Tri-Cities — for hands-on training. It’s not clear how such a program would affect the Richland campus’ infrastructure or staffing.