Washington State University announced Wednesday its medical school has received preliminary accreditation. It's a major milestone towards welcoming WSU's first medical students in August 2017.

Establishing The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine has been a priority for the university and regents for years. Its goal is to train more doctors in the state to deal with an increase in patients needing medical care and also to provide training to physicians who will work in under-served rural communities.

“This is a significant moment in Washington State University’s 126-year history,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “It puts us one step closer to educating physicians who will practice in Washington’s underserved communities and furthers the university’s land-grant mission to serve the needs of the state.”

“We’re absolutely ecstatic,” founding dean Dr. John Tomkowiak said. “My team has worked so hard to get us to this point. Now we can move ahead with our work to begin recruiting medical students and preparing doctors to meet the state’s health care needs.”

According to a news release, University will spend the next week working to achieve membership to the Association of American Medical Colleges, which will provide access to the American Medical College Application Service. Upon gaining membership, the College of Medicine will begin accepting applications in early November.