UW News

November 21, 2002

School of Medicine wins community service award

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

The UW School of Medicine received the Association of American Medical Colleges 2002 Award for Outstanding Community Service at the group’s annual meeting in San Francisco last weekend. The award is given annually to just one medical school in the country.

The award honors efforts to ameliorate health-care inequities in remote small towns, in inner city neighborhoods, and among needy populations throughout the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho — the WWAMI region — as well as nationally and globally.

These public service efforts result from a longstanding collaboration among the School of Medicine, thousands of physicians practicing in the WWAMI region, hundreds of the region’s towns and cities, numerous clinics and agencies, and five universities: Washington State University, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Idaho, Montana State University and the University of Wyoming.

Specifically, the Outstanding Community Service Award recognizes:

  • The life-changing influence of more than 4,100 community physicians who volunteer as clinical teachers for UW medical students and as role models of a service ethic.

  • The volunteer public service initiatives of UW health-professions students during their training in Seattle and in towns across the five-state region.

  • Outreach efforts to diverse populations, particularly to urban and rural Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

  • International health programs in which faculty and students learn first-hand about health issues in developing nations.

  • Community health research that leads to volunteer action and public policy changes.

Dr. Paul G. Ramsey, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UW School of Medicine, accepted the award on behalf of the faculty, staff and students who volunteer their time to worthy causes in the community.

“Community service is an inseparable part of the institutional mission of the UW School of Medicine,” Ramsey said, “and is pervasive across all disciplines, including the basic sciences, primary-care fields, clinical specialties, and clinical subspecialties. These public service efforts are imbued with a spirit of collaboration with many institutions, agencies, and individuals working together for the common good.

“This award recognizes a highly collaborative partnership that has served the people and communities of our region for over 30 years — a partnership that has helped make our school the nation’s leader in training primary care physicians.”

Dr. John B. Coombs, associate vice president and associate dean for regional affairs, rural health and community relations, said, “The WWAMI region has many geographically isolated, medically underserved towns and minority populations who have chronically inadequate health care. This region is our community, a community in which faculty and students daily learn and serve and to which a large percentage of our graduates return for lifetimes of service.”

The medical school’s role in community service is exemplified in its programs to train and retain physicians and other health professionals for service in needy rural areas of the region, as well as in other humanitarian aims, such as faculty, staff and student volunteer work with HIV-positive and hepatitis C-positive populations, cancer patients, school children, the urban homeless and street youth, the chronically mentally ill, low-income or frail elderly, and many other groups.

The Association of American Medical Colleges is a non-profit organization founded in 1876. The AAMC represents the nation’s 125 accredited medical schools, nearly 400 major teaching hospitals, more than 105,000 faculty in 98 academic and scientific societies, and the nation’s 66,000 medical students and 97,000 residents.

The Association carries out a broad range of programs and studies to represent its constituents. The Association works to strengthen the quality of medical education and training, to enhance the search for biomedical knowledge, to advance research in health sciences, and to integrate education into the provision of effective health care.