Another View: WWAMI failing to send students to Spokane

July 12, 2014 

The University of Washington and Washington State University are finding out it is not necessarily true that "if you build it, they will come."

"It" being, in this case, an expanded second-year medical school curriculum at Washington State University-Spokane under the auspices of the WWAMI consortium headed by the UW Medical School.

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane reported Sunday just nine of the 20 available seats in Spokane are filled. The rest of the students are studying in Seattle. The students in the program, which is supported by each state's Legislature, spend their first year in their home state university. The second year they have a choice of Seattle or Spokane. The third and fourth years are a series of clinical rotations around the five-state region.

There's a feeling in Spokane, the Spokesman reported, that maybe the UW isn't promoting the Spokane campus or perhaps isn't helping students to coordinate classes with those in Seattle.

And then there's the WSU hubris. It wants to start its own medical school on the campus in Spokane, because, it seems to be saying, we don't need no stinkin' UW.

These catty, arrogant remarks said on both sides about the other institution can't be helping to fill the seats in Spokane.

So, is this "bad blood" that is keeping students from signing up in Spokane? If it is, that's a shame and should be an embarrassment to all involved.

But let's say you are a WWAMI student and can spend a year in Spokane with its four hospitals and 19 other medical students.

Or you could spend that year in Seattle with all the students in the school, faculty who are tops in their field and who practice at the UW and Harborview medical centers, Seattle Children's and the Puget Sound veterans system. You know that within Seattle, there are three other major hospitals, plus a dozen more in the metro area. And besides, it's Seattle. You may not want to live there forever, but it is a wonderful city for the young and single, and you're probably young and single.

It seems wrongheaded to expect students in their early 20s to pass up a year in Seattle just because their hometowns desperately need more doctors.

If they truly love this place, it can let them go. They'll come back.

The University of Idaho is part of WWAMI, the University of Washington's School of Medicine's regional medical education program. The WWAMI partnership and name is derived from the partnership of the UW medical school with the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.

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