UW & UI welcome Idaho’s largest medical student class

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UW & UI welcome Idaho’s largest medical student class

Forty future physicians to begin medical school this fall
Kimberly Blakeley

The University of Washington School of Medicine and the University of Idaho will welcome the largest-ever entering class of medical students in Idaho when students begin the 2016-17 academic year in August. Forty first-year medical students, including six Targeted Rural Underserved Track students (TRUST), will begin their Idaho WWAMI medical training on the University of Idaho campus.

WWAMI is the acronym for the five states in the UW School of Medicine’s regionalized medical education effort: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. TRUST is a program that guides qualified medical students through a special curriculum. It also connects medically underserved communities in the WWAMI region to the UW School of Medicine and its network of affiliated residency programs. 

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The increase in the Idaho class size to 40 students is a result of new funding from the Idaho State Legislature to the UW School of Medicine for 5 additional medical school students in Idaho. The increase meets the Idaho State Board of Education 2009 recommendations for expansion of medical education.

“Growing our medical program to provide more Idaho students with access to a top-ranked medical education is a priority for our university, one that addresses a critical need for physicians in our state,” said Chuck Staben, University of Idaho president. “The WWAMI program is an invaluable piece of the medical education pipeline, and will help us lead Idaho to a healthier tomorrow. We are proud to be Idaho’s leader in medical education.”

Filling the need for primary-care physicians, especially in rural areas, is a goal of both the UW School of Medicine and the University of Idaho.

“We are excited to have 40 medical students in our entering class this fall,” said Mary Barinaga, assistant clinical dean, Idaho WWAMI. “Over 50 percent of our graduates return to Idaho to practice. Many of them choose primary-care medicine and practice in rural locations. The additional students will be important as we continue to address the physician workforce needs of our state.”

The 35 UW School of Medicine students who began their medical school training at the University of Idaho at the start of the 2015-16 academic year were among the first to experience the School of Medicine’s nationally recognized integrated curriculum. In the new curriculum, students spend the first 18 months — the Foundations Phase — in their home state, followed by clinical rotations in their third and fourth years. During those years they can choose to obtain the majority of their training in Idaho.

“We are very excited to welcome our largest class of medical students to Moscow this fall,” said Jeff Seegmiller, assistant dean, Foundations Phase, Idaho WWAMI. “Included in the entering class this fall will be six TRUST scholars, joining five second-, third- and fourth-year medical students for a total of 21 students who will be immersed in the care of the rural underserved in Idaho. TRUST is an integral part of the UW School of Medicine’s commitment to helping meet the rural workforce needs of the region.”

“I grew up in Coeur D’Alene.  I was so happy I was selected to attend the UW School of Medicine so I can train to be a doctor in my home state, and at my alma mater, the University of Idaho!” said incoming first-year medical student Savannah Patterson. “The WWAMI program has such a great reputation and I am excited to dive in to the new curriculum where we get hands-on training from the start.”