- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - An advisory panel created by the University of Washington concluded Tuesday that the Seattle-based school should expand its medical education programs in Spokane to help meet the state’s need for more physicians.

The 11-member advisory council, chaired by former Gov. Dan Evans, released five unanimous recommendations.

They include that the UW School of Medicine should proceed with planned expansion to 120 medical students per class in Spokane as soon as possible.

Washington State University wants to open a new medical school in Spokane. The University of Washington wants to dramatically expand its existing medical education programs in the state’s second-largest city. Both proposals are competing for money in the Legislature.

Meanwhile, a Spokane newspaper reported Tuesday that Gov. Jay Inslee will not include money for either proposal in his upcoming budget request.

University of Washington President Michael K. Young praised the advisory report, produced by a panel that included people aligned with both the University of Washington and Washington State University.

“They have provided a road map for where we need to get to and a number of specific recommendations for improving a program that has been the main driver in the UW’s ranking as the best primary care and rural medicine program in the nation,” Young said. “The entire state will benefit from their work.”

The University of Washington is funded to accept 120 in-state medical students a year, while hundreds more leave Washington to attend medical school in other states.

The panel also recommended that the:

-UW School of Medicine aggressively expand in additional communities. The council specifically noted the Tri-Cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco, where expanded residencies and medical education are seen as key priorities.

-UW provide a specific plan for research and commercialization activities in conjunction with its medical education program in Spokane.

-UW include residency expansion, specifically in rural and underserved areas.

-Additional administrative support and resources for the WWAMI program as it continues to grow. WWAMI is the program by which the UW trains doctors for the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

Young convened the panel to assess the health care and economic needs of both the Spokane community and the state, and recommend how WWAMI could best meet those needs.

The council was not asked to determine if a separately accredited medical school is necessary or should be pursued by WSU.

The Spokesman-Review reported Tuesday that Inslee is undecided on how medical school education should expand in Spokane. “At this point we’re not saying yes or no to the medical school in Spokane,” Budget Director David Schumacher told the newspaper.

The WSU proposal would require a change in policy, and both plans would require several million dollars in new money.

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