Potential for two medical schools in Spokane - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Potential for two medical schools in Spokane

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Spokane may be home to two medical programs. Spokane may be home to two medical programs.
SPOKANE, Wash. -

After Washington State University and the University of Washington dissolved their longstanding partnership in October, many feared the only medical students in Spokane (first and second year students in UW's WWAMI program) would be pulled back to the university's Seattle campus. But two months later, a plan is in motion for an independent WSU medical school and an expansion to UW's Spokane programs.

WSU held a press conference with State Sen. Michael Bumgartner and Rep. Marcus Riccelli to announce legislation seeking $2.5 million in funding for a medical school and a repeal to a 1917 law requiring all public medical training be conducted at UW.

“One hundred years ago the legislature in Olympia made a mistake,” Sen. Baumgartner said. “Medical education is just an absolute must here in Spokane, and this independent medical school is going to do so much to fill that need.”

Baumgartner said he's confident the legislation will pass easily and WSU will get the funding they need to get their medical school up and running in 2017.

Meanwhile, Gonzaga announced talks with the University of Washington to potentially partner on medical research and education.

“I really think Gonzaga has been focused for a long time on what's best for Spokane,” Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh said. “As medical education and research emerged as a priority for Spokane we have been active in supporting that agenda.”

The partnership would likely continue UW's WWAMI program, which currently houses 49 first- and second-year students on WSU's Spokane campus. However, those will be the last after WSU and UW agreed to dissolve their partnership in October.

“We are committed to the success of the WWAMI program in Spokane,” University of Washington President Michael Young said.

President Young stressed that there's no plan to move their current program from Eastern Washington, but Gonzaga's President told KHQ that a partnership would ensure this region doesn't lose ties to UW's successful programs.

“We think it's important for us to explore this,” President McCulloh said.

“There are amazing opportunities that could unfold for all of our institutions out of this dialogue. But there are many questions that need to be answered.”

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