Spokane, Idaho await biggest incoming med-student classes

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Spokane, Idaho await biggest incoming med-student classes

In August, 60 medical students will head to dedicated facilities on Gonzaga's campus, and 40 will start at the University of Idaho
Kimberly Blakeley

When students begin the 2016-17 academic year, the University of Washington School of Medicine and Gonzaga University will welcome the largest-ever entering class of medical students in Spokane. In August 60 first-year medical students will head to dedicated facilities – also a first on the Gonzaga campus -- to begin their medical training.

This increase in the Spokane class size to 60 entering students is a result of new funding last year from the Washington State Legislature to the UW School of Medicine, which added 20 medical school students in Spokane.

 Additionally, 40 second-year medical students will continue their education on the Gonzaga campus. They were first class to experience the UW School of Medicine’s new, nationally recognized medical school curriculum. 

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Along with these 100 students experiencing innovative classroom training, hundreds more UW School of Medicine medical students complete third and fourth year clinical training in physicians’ practices in Spokane and surrounding areas.

“This is a significant milestone in our commitment to educate the next generation of health professionals for eastern Washington and the state,” said Ana Mari Cauce, president of the University of Washington. “The growth in our Spokane class is a testament to our new partnership with Gonzaga, the excellence of our UW School of Medicine faculty and incredible support from the state and the Spokane medical community.”

”I am so excited to be attending the UW School of Medicine this fall at my undergraduate alma mater, Gonzaga University!” said Sharon Udher, soon-to-be first-year medical student at the UW School of Medicine. “My mom is a doctor in Spokane, and I’ve watched her help patients from all walks of life, and through the toughest times in their lives. I think being a doctor will be a beautiful experience. I feel well prepared for medical school because of the excellent education I received at Gonzaga. A bonus is I can do my training in a community I love—Spokane!”

In February the UW School of Medicine and Gonzaga University announced they had established a regional health partnership to continue, enhance and expand medical education and research in Spokane. The shared goal is  to foster community and economic vitality in eastern Washington. 

“We enthusiastically welcome the 60 incoming medical students and 40 second-year medical students to the Gonzaga campus this fall,” said Thayne McCulloh, president of Gonzaga University. “Our faculty are excited to participate in medical education with their UW School of Medicine colleagues. The partnership between the UW School of Medicine and Gonzaga University continues the long tradition of educating doctors in eastern Washington, and represents an opportunity to make an impact for the entire Inland Northwest.”

“We are very excited to welcome 60 medical students to Spokane this fall, especially as we move into our new home in the Schoenberg Center on the Gonzaga University campus,” said William G. Sayres, assistant dean, UW School of Medicine, Spokane. Sayres, a longtime Spokane physician, is board certified in family practice.

“This year, there was overwhelming interest among UW School of Medicine applicants to attend medical school in Spokane and the class is impressive,” he said. “The incoming students come from diverse backgrounds and have demonstrated strong commitment to service. The word is out: Spokane is a terrific place to attend medical school!” 

For 25 consecutive years, the UW School of Medicine has maintained the No. 1 ranking in the nation in family medicine and rural medicine training.  For 22 out of 23 years, it has earned the No. 1 ranking among primary-care medical schools in U.S. News & World Report’s lists of the country’s top graduate and professional-school programs. In addition to leadership in primary care, family medicine and rural medicine, UW School of Medicine faculty also competitively obtain more than $1 billion of research funding per year. Their research is devoted to improving the communities they serve.

The UW School of Medicine has provided medical education in Spokane and eastern Washington for 45 years.  This effort to train new physicians for the region  is part of a five-state, community-based medical education program called WWAMI, an acronym for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

Today, more than 500 faculty in 18 communities throughout eastern Washington serve as educators and mentors for UW medical students. This year, the American Medical Association selected the UW as one of 20 medical schools to join a national consortium to create the medical school of the future.

Media contact:
Kim Blakeley, 206-685-1323, krb13@uw.edu