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Office of the President

April 9, 2015

Medical Education in Washington: Do No Harm

Office of the President

Congratulations to Washington State University on the official signing of legislation to seek accreditation for an independent medical school. As they begin the process of seeking accreditation, we at the University of Washington offer our appreciation for more than 40 years of medical education partnership with our colleagues in Pullman and Spokane.

With the passage of WSU’s policy bill, significant decisions remain.

Budget proposals have been released in Olympia, and the prospects for the UW School of Medicine in Spokane are decidedly mixed. The House of Representatives budget provides us with sufficient funding — $4.7 million per year — to pursue the course we set together with Spokane: to continue and expand our four-year medical school. If this budget approach is adopted, the UW will begin to address our doctor shortage immediately and continue to serve Spokane students and the physician workforce needs of the state for years to come.

The Senate budget, unfortunately, defunds our current efforts in Spokane — likely eliminating operations and taking expansion off the table. Only $1.25 million in annual funding is provided to the UW for our Spokane medical school, well below the House funding level of $4.7 million per year. Put simply, if the Senate budget is adopted, our medical school in Spokane is in serious jeopardy. We will be forced to reduce our Washington student class size or transfer some students back to the Seattle campus for first and second year training. We would consider this a tremendous setback for our students, for the community of Spokane and the state of Washington.

We will be working hard over the next several weeks with our community supporters in Spokane and around the state to inform the legislature and the Governor about what is at stake in this year’s biennial budget proposal. We need doctors now, and the UW School of Medicine is ready to provide them.

On April 15, I will come to Spokane to join the community in celebrating the UW’s newest Spokane medical students. It’s imperative that we keep their education and success our highest priority.

Our momentum to expand medical research, education and access in eastern Washington is palpable, and we will accelerate our vision for the UW School of Medicine in Spokane with your continued support.

I invite you to keep up with our progress at uw.edu/spokanemedschool.

Sincerely,

Ana Mari Cauce
Interim President
Professor of Psychology and American Ethnic Studies

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