WSU gaining bi-partisan support for medical school
SPOKANE, Wash. — Tuesday marked another step forward in Washington State University’s effort to open an independent medical school in Spokane, and this step was a bi-partisan one.
Washington needs more doctors but, by law, the University of Washington is the only university that can train students in the medical field.
“100 years ago the legislature in Olympia made a mistake,” State Senator Michael Baumgartner (R – Spokane) said.
Baumgartner said the taxpayers didn’t put $70 Million into the pharmaceutical and biomedical science building on WSU Spokane’s campus not to train doctors, but first they have to change a nearly century old law.
“This is something that is long overdue,” said Baumgartner.
Amending the 1917 law would allow WSU to establish an independent medical school in Spokane, a move supported by Baumgartner and Democratic Representative Marcus Riccelli.
“This is not rocket science. This happens all across the country,” said Baumgartner.
However establishing an independent medical school means WSU would leave UW’s WWAMI program, a partnership between five regional states, which has been training future doctors for more than 40 years.
“At the end of the day this isn’t about the Apple Cup of medical education and it’s not about purple dollars or crimson dollars it’s about public dollars, your dollars,” said Baumgartner.
A new school means new funding from the state.
“I assure everyone that out of a $37 Billion budget we will be able to find $2.5 Million, this will not be a significant challenge,” said Baumgartner.
The University of Washington points to a study, which says the state can’t support two medical schools and UW would rather expand its WWAMI program in Spokane.
“[In] my judgment it takes both. It will take the WWAMI program as well as a second publicly funded medical school to meet the needs,” said Washington State University President Elson Floyd.
If all goes as WSU plans, the university would like to have 120 medical students in the program by 2021, but those plans hinge on what the legislature decides when lawmakers return to Olympia next year.