Leadership at the University of Washington and Washington State University have reached an agreement that will mutually dissolve their WWAMI partnership and provide a pathway to pursue separate solutions to address the state’s medical education needs and physician shortage.
In order to provide the greatest benefit to the state and to meet the significant demand for more physicians, leaders from both universities agree that UW and WSU will independently pursue their respective proposals to meet the state’s medical education needs. The two universities have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that acknowledges both WSU’s immediate efforts to secure accreditation for a new medical school and UW School of Medicine’s independent pursuit of rapid expansion of its four-year WWAMI program in Spokane.
“The collective needs of our students, the Spokane community, and our state are our top priority,” said UW President Michael K. Young. “To this end, the UW remains fully committed to immediately expanding our medical school in Spokane, including a commitment to grow the research, industry commercialization and medical residency opportunities that will ensure a vibrant, healthcare economy well into the future.”
Spokane’s medical school is accredited through the University of Washington’s innovative, nationally recognized medical education program called WWAMI (an acronym of the states it serves: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) and is powered through partnerships with Washington State University and Spokane’s world-class medical community.
Working together in collaboration means each partner contributes their unique strengths to medical education, without duplication or adding unnecessary costs to the healthcare system. This approach has put Spokane’s medical school at the forefront of healthcare innovation, including team-based, collaborative approaches to medical education and patient care.
It’s time to take the next step – together
A lot has changed since the University of Washington’s first class of 20 medical students arrived in Spokane. If we are going to meet the healthcare needs of Spokane, Eastern Washington and our state, we need to rapidly expand on our current success.
Expanding medical education prepares the next generation of students
The University of Washington worked in partnership with Washington State University and the Spokane community to develop a growth plan for medical education in Spokane. Building on the success of the current partnership will allow Spokane’s medical school to grow immediately.
The next step is to work with the state Legislature to increase the total number of medical students in Spokane to 320 (80 students per year).
UW in Spokane
Expanding medical residencies trains the next generation of physicians
Expanding the medical school pipeline alone won’t ensure we train physicians who stay and practice in Washington state. The greatest single predictor of where a physician will stay and practice is where they do their residency training. The number of doctors graduating from medical schools in the U.S. will exceed the number of residency slots available by 2017.
If we are going to ensure that we have more physicians serving Spokane and Eastern Washington, we need more residency training sites in this region. The University of Washington has proposed legislation at the federal level that would drive significantly more residency training opportunities in the underserved areas of Spokane and across Eastern Washington.
WWAMI students who return to Washington
Expanding Spokane’s medical school fuels research and jobs
The city of Spokane is a major medical hub with the largest concentration of healthcare services between Seattle and Minneapolis. The Spokane community not only deserves local access to skilled physicians and the No. 1 primary and rural healthcare program in the country – but also good jobs and a strong economy.
In June 2010, a report commissioned by Greater Spokane Incorporated and community partners estimated that expanding the University of Washington’s medical education program in Spokane, in partnership with Washington State University, would contribute to $1.6 billion in local economic impact and create 9,000 new jobs in the greater Spokane area.
This impact will be achieved through a combination of factors, including: quadrupling the number of seats in Spokane’s medical school for Washington students, recruiting new world-class faculty with leading-edge research portfolios to teach in Spokane’s classrooms and clinics, and the spinoff and multiplier effects associated with expanding biomedical research in Spokane.
A collaborative approach positions Spokane’s medical school to have even greater economic impact. National Institutes of Health “mega grants” of $50 million to $100 million are going to cities and regions where multi-institution, collaborative research is occurring. Leveraging the University of Washington and the national reputation of the Northwest’s WWAMI network of partners strongly positions Spokane’s medical school to compete for these grants.
What is WWAMI?
The University of Washington serves as the medical school for a five-state region through an innovative medical education program that began 42 years ago called WWAMI (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – Wyoming joined in 1996).
The WWAMI model was developed by a local physician in Omak, Wash., as a way to train primary care and family physicians for underserved areas in rural Eastern Washington.
The program’s strengths are in its partnerships. By partnering with local state institutions to offer medical education, the University of Washington is able to provide students with the highest quality medical education in the nation, and at lower cost than independent medical education programs.
A national leader in medical education
With healthcare changing rapidly, it’s not enough for Washington to simply follow the nation – Washington needs to lead the nation. The University of Washington’s WWAMI program was groundbreaking when it launched over 40 years ago, and it continues to lead the nation in healthcare innovation.
U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Washington’s School of Medicine as the No. 1 primary care program in the country, No. 1 in family medicine and No. 1 in rural medicine.
Medical Education Per Student Costs
WWAMI Average vs. National Average
A national leader in medical research
The University of Washington is the country’s top federally funded public research university, and its School of Medicine alone received more than $600 million in research awards in 2012.
In addition to having top-quality medical education and research programs, the University of Washington also has a successful record of translating its research into new startup companies. The University is among the top five universities in the world for research commercialization – last year doubling the number of start-ups generated by UW research.
We are the University of Washington, for Washington
WWAMI’s commitment to meeting the needs for primary care physicians in rural and underserved communities across the state continues today.