- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington State University can start its own medical school but not with $5.9 million set aside to expand medical programs in Spokane by the University of Washington, UW officials told legislators during a hearing in Olympia.

The money was budgeted for WSU as part of a plan to expand the number of medical school students in Spokane when the two universities were cooperating on UW’s program, a UW official testified Tuesday before the House Higher Education Committee.

Ian Goodhew of the UW School of Medicine said WSU shouldn’t get to spend it on its own proposal, The Spokesman-Review (https://bit.ly/1CN2Hci) reported.

The committee is considering a bill to amend an old law giving UW exclusive rights to medical education at state universities. The committee has not yet voted.

Washington State is proposing to open a new medical school in cooperation with UW’s existing medical programs in Spokane and WSU’s schools of nursing and pharmacy, school President Elson Floyd told the committee.

The push for a second medical school is sometimes described as a conflict between the two universities, but Floyd insisted it is not.

Rather, it’s an effort to address the need for more doctors in the state, he said, particularly in rural areas and in specialties such as family practice. Students would spend their third and fourth years at medical facilities in Spokane and other communities where WSU has a presence such as Vancouver, Everett and the Tri-Cities, Floyd said.

The law restricting medical education to UW deserves a review, Goodhew said.

The two universities have collaborated for years on medical education in Spokane under UW’s WWAMI program, which trains students from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

That program plans to expand from 20 students a year in Spokane to 40 this year, and the state’s 2013-15 budget sets aside $3.8 million for UW and $5.9 million for WSU for that expansion, Goodhew said.

If WSU keeps its share of the money to develop a new school, UW would not be able to expand in Spokane as planned, he said. The Legislature should reallocate that money for UW to “teach students now, not down the road,” he said.

Ken Roberts, acting dean of the WSU College of Medical Sciences, said money in the 2013-15 budget wasn’t solely for WWAMI but includes expenses for all medical sciences.

UW is seeking $8 million in the 2015-17 budget for medical school education in Spokane. WSU wants $2.5 million to seek accreditation for its new school.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed 2015-17 budget doesn’t have money for either request at this time.


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

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