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Q&A with State Sen. Nathan Schlicher J.D., ’02, M.D., ’06

Sen. Schlicher
State Senator Nathan Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor) Photo:

This is the second installment in our “Huskies on the Hill” series featuring UW Alumni serving in state government.

Today’s Q&A features State Senator Nathan Schlicher,  J.D., ’02; M.D, ’06 who represents the 26th Legislative District.

Prior to earning his medical degree, Sen. Schlicher earned a law degree from the University of Washington, and as an undergraduate studied political science and biology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. He met his wife, Jessica, on their first day of classes at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Sen. Schlicher was appointed to the State Senate earlier this year, filling the vacancy left by now U.S. Congressman Derek Kilmer.

1. What motivated you to run for office?

In my daily life, I am an ER doctor at an urban emergency department and see people suffering from so many ills. Our broken health care system with 50 million uninsured unable to get care was troubling. I saw so many patients struggling with homelessness, addiction, poverty, and searching for work. I believe that we must do more to help our fellow citizens and not forget about them. My hope is to bring their stories to the legislature and remind politicians that at the end of the pen are people that are affected by changes in service.

2. What are your legislative priorities this session?

My priorities are diverse. Getting our economy moving forward and people back to work is critical. We also need to support small business that provide a large majority of jobs in our communities and make sure that they can compete by streamlining the regulatory process. Fully funding education as required by the Supreme Court in the McCleary decision must begin this year if we are to reach our 2018 target. We must also fully implement the medicaid expansion and ensure that we get to the point where we have universal coverage so that people can get the health care they need.

3. What has been the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment for you so far this session?

As a citizen who joined the legislature, I am not a career politician. I believe that we should all be working for the good of our constituents, regardless of party, and help be better stewards of the dollars entrusted to us. It was surprising and disappointing to find career politicians that put their political success above the needs of my constituents. As a result, I believe now more than ever that we need more citizen legislators and less career politicians so that we can get away from these partisan games.

4. What do you think the long-term outlook is for Higher Education in our state?

We are blessed in Washington State to have an amazing higher education system. Unfortunately the system is under immense pressure due to the state financial challenges. I am supportive of tuition freezes through adequate funding this year and beginning the process of reversing the erosion of funding for higher education. I also want to be clear that GET should not be changed by the legislature. There is a less than 1% chance of insolvency despite the media hype. There is no reason to close the program at this time.

5. How do you spend your time when the legislature is not in session?

When I am not in session I work in the Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington and as the associate director for a national Patient Safety Organization at TeamHealth. My family is also my passion, including my wife Dr. Jessica Kennedy-Schlicher (2006 UWSOM grad), son David (4), daughter Juliette (2), and soon our third child in June. When time allows around all of that, I enjoy getting out in our community in Gig Harbor, visiting my family in Bremerton, and enjoying the great outdoors we have here in the state.