Four University of Washington third-year medical students are currently participating in a new program to provide these future physicians with extensive training in rural medicine. Another training site will open in 1999.
Called WRITE, for WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience, the half-year program gives participants more time to get to know a small town, their patients, and the local medical community. Such long-term continuity is unusual in medical education. Traditionally medical students move from one training rotation to the next. (WWAMI stands for the states joined in an educational partnership with the UW medical school: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.)
Participating towns for the first half of 1998 are Othello, Wash.; Sandpoint, Idaho; Hailey, Idaho; and Libby, Mont. In 1999, Colfax, Wash., will become a WRITE training site with Dr. Mark Parsons as its head.
The current students and their physician/instructors are:
Othello, Wash.: Janeen Ross, training with Dr. Richard Bunch
Hailey, Idaho: Erica Peterson, training with Dr. Richard Paris
Sandpoint, Idaho: Kirsten Robinson, training with Drs. Tom Lawrence and Hugh Leedy
Libby, Mont.: Renee Grandi, training with Dr. Greg Rice
In addition to these preceptors, others from each town’s medical community will help teach the students. University of Washington medical school faculty will visit the towns regularly to offer additional educational support.
Before starting the WRITE program, the students had already completed a specified amount of clinical training in medicine, psychiatry, surgery and obstetrics and gynecology.
The WRITE program was successfully pilot-tested this past year in Hailey and McCall, Idaho. It is modeled after the University of Minnesota’s Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP).
Dr. Joseph Chu, assistant dean for curriculum at the University of Washington School of Medicine; Dr. Philip Cleveland, director of WWAMI Clinical Medical Education – Spokane; and Dr. James Blackman, director of WWAMI Clinical Education-Boise, are the WRITE administrators. Blackman and Cleveland are University of Washington assistant deans for regional affairs and rural health.