Officials at WSU Spokane have commissioned a feasibility study to look at the possibility of starting their own medical school. While WSU Spokane is already in a partnership with the University of Washington that offers a four year medical program, WSU Spokane officials believe the Spokane school is a good position to offer its own program.
WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown says there are over 800 students who apply to medical school in the state every year, but only 120 are admitted.
Brown: “They either go to other states or drop out and don’t become doctors. And given the shortage of physicians we have in most counties in the state, and the needs were going to have with the Affordable Care Act and the aging population, the other reason to do this is because there are qualified students who have a need to become doctors and giving them this gives them another opportunity.”
Currently UW offers medical education in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho in partnership with schools in those states. For Brown the proposal is something that could work in conjunction with the program already in place with the U of W.
Brown: “Our goal at WSU Spokane is not to have to viewed as a competition. But really a new complimentary model that could enrich the five state partner ship that already exists.”
Right now there are 20 first year, and 20 second year medical students on the WSU Spokane campus. Third and fourth years students learn off campus in working environments with physicians.
The move would be a good one for the research done on the Spokane campus. Dr George Novan, Associate Director of Medical Sciences, explains that while the campus has been a national leader in sleep research, bringing in new faculty for a new medical program would also result in an expansion of research in Spokane.
Novan: “We have what we hope would be the beginning of expansion in some of the molecular sciences, immunology, some of the cancer research, but again when you only house 20 students, you don’t have the capability to build the research arm of a medical school.”
A feasibility study on the proposal was launched in January, and the final results are expected by the end of June.