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New Bills Move WSU Medical School One Step Closer to Becoming Reality

January 21, 2015

Washington State University took another step forward in its pursuit of an independently accredited medical school at WSU Health Sciences Spokane today with the introduction of two bills in the Washington Legislature.

Both bills – one in the House and one in the Senate – propose changing a 1917 law limiting the delivery of medical education to the University of Washington. Their passage would clear the way for WSU to operate a medical school.

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It is especially gratifying to see such a strong level of support for these bills from legislators throughout Washington. The House bill is co-sponsored by 60 lawmakers; the Senate bill has 17 co-sponsors. They hail from every corner of the state, a fact that speaks to the widespread need for more doctors, more open access to medical education and the opportunity to bring more medical research dollars to the state. It also speaks to our state leadership’s confidence in WSU’s ability to help meet those needs. I sincerely thank Sen. Michael Baumgartner and Rep. Marcus Riccelli, both from Spokane, for their leadership in moving this critical issue forward.

The state’s research land-grant university, WSU has more than 40 years of experience in educating physicians as part of the WWAMI Regional Medical Education program. In addition, WSU has been educating pharmacists for most of its 125 years. Sixty percent of the bachelor’s degrees in nursing are granted by WSU.

We have very intentionally co-located all of our health sciences disciplines on the Spokane campus to develop a curriculum that fosters the interdisciplinary, community-based model of providing health care that is emerging throughout the country. Creation of our health sciences campus at Spokane allows us to leverage the vast expertise and scope of Spokane’s health care industry, the largest medical hub between Seattle and Minneapolis.

The university has invested more than $208 million for state-of-the-art facilities to house those programs for research as well as for teaching. WSU also has a robust research enterprise in the health sciences, WSU faculty currently are conducting research regarding cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, obesity prevention, sleep deprivation and addiction.

Introduction of these bills is only the beginning of the conversation, but given the level of support they already have garnered, it is a promising beginning.