Four University of Washington (UW) third-year medical students have started their six-month WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE) in three rural towns. The students, preceptors and towns are:
– Eric Van Eaton, from Kodiak, Alaska, who is supervised by family physician Dr. Katy Sheridan and general internist Dr. Kristen Mitchell in the Soldotna/Kenai area of Alaska.
– Jennifer Parish of Benton City Wash., whose training is directed by a husband-and-wife physician team, Dr. Richard Paris and Dr. Kathryn Woods, in Hailey, Idaho.
– Seattlelites James “Jim” Hardy and Alexandra Molnar, who are working with preceptors Dr. Hugh Leedy, Dr. Dan Meulenberg and others at the Family Health Center in Sandpoint, Idaho.
WWAMI is an acronym for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, the states joined in partnership with the UW School of Medicine to train physicians for areas of need.
While learning primary care, the WRITE participants will be exposed to the diversity of rural practice, which can include internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, surgery, psychiatry, obstetrics/gynecology and other specialty care. Several local health-care professionals will help teach the medical students. UW medical faculty members will visit to assist the preceptors and to offer continuing education for health professionals in the communities.
Medical students usually spend only four to six weeks in each of their training rotations. In contrast, WRITE gives a medical student a half-year to become acquainted with a town and its people. It also gives these future doctors the chance to get to know their patients and to see the progress of their medical care. For example, a medical student may not only help deliver a baby, but also do the baby’s checkups over several months.
The WRITE program is now in its fourth year. In 2001 several other towns in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho also will serve as WRITE sites. Students are matched to a town based on their personal goals and interests, such as a desire to train in a particular state or with a certain patient population.
Including this year’s group, 13 medical students have participated in WRITE.
Administrative oversight for WRITE is provided by Dr. James Blackman, clinical medical education coordinator–Boise; Dr. Philip Cleveland, clinical medical education coordinator–Spokane; Dr. Tom Nighswander, clinical medical education coordinator–Anchorage; Dr. Susan Marshall, assistant dean for curriculum; and Dr. D. Daniel Hunt, associate dean for academic affairs. UW medical faculty members from several disciplines help set WRITE teaching goals.
Because of its excellent rural training opportunities throughout the four years of medical school and in several residency programs for M.D. graduates, the University of Washington School of Medicine has long been regarded as the nation’s leading medical school for preparing new rural physicians in annual U.S . News & World Report surveys.