- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The University of Washington and Washington State University must work out their differences over training medical students in Spokane, a lawmaker said.

Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, head of the state Senate Higher Education Committee, asked representatives at a hearing Tuesday to “work this out to the benefit of citizens that we all serve.”

It was the third hearing in two weeks on the competing plans, The Spokesman-Review reported (http://bit.ly/1Kc7QN9 ).

Washington State University wants to start its own medical school. The University of Washington says that plan ends its partnership with WSU on the project.

UW is now talking with Gonzaga University about becoming a partner in its regional medical school program.

There are 16 sponsors for a Senate bill to allow a WSU medical school in Spokane. A similar House bill has 64 sponsors.

WSU officials contend their medical school would not conflict with the existing UW program but would fill the need for more family practice physicians and doctors in underserved rural areas. UW officials said they don’t object to WSU setting up its own medical school, as long as the UW program doesn’t lose funding.

“Give them their own resources to move forward,” said Genesee Adkins, a UW spokeswoman.

State Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, asked why WSU’s offer to continue to cooperate on the established UW medical school in Spokane was rejected.

“WSU maintained pursuit of its school was its priority,” Adkins replied. “Maintaining our program is our priority.”

UW contended it should get some $5.9 million the state has sent to WSU over the past several years for medical education in Spokane while the two schools were cooperating.

WSU Regents Chairman Mike Worthy said there’s a debate about how much of that money was used for the medical school, and some was used for other health care education programs on the Spokane campus.

The committee is considering legislation sponsored by Baumgartner that would change state law that now restricts medical education to UW and would make it a field of study WSU could also offer.

Changing the law is necessary before the Legislature could set aside money for WSU to seek accreditation for a community-based medical school in Spokane.

Before the hearing, Republican legislative leaders from both chambers said there was support to change the law. The bigger question would be how much it would cost.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com

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