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Legislature Green Lights WSU Med School Plan, Funding Awaits

Paige Browning
Spokane Public Radio

Washington lawmakers have approved a measure allowing Washington State University to develop a medical school in Spokane. The bill awaits the governor’s signature. Now, WSU-Spokane leaders want lawmakers to consider funding.

Representative Marcus Riccelli authored the measure, with support from Spokane Senators Michael Baumgartner and Andy Billig. It amends a state law that allowed only University of Washington to operate a public medical school. Now WSU is authorized to open its own.

Riccelli says by 2030 the state will need another 1,700 primary care physicians, and the state is not meeting that need.

Riccelli: “I truly believe chances for surviving cancer should not be based on the county you live in. So when we have more doctors training and eventually completing their residencies here we can finally start seriously addressing the physician shortage we see.”

Lisa Brown
Credit Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio
Spokane Public Radio
WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown speaking about their medical education plans in 2014.

WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown and her team will apply for accreditation for a medical school.

Brown: “The National Accrediting Body wants you to demonstrate that you have legislative support for the medical school you are developing, so this legislation gives us the green light.”

Meanwhile, Brown (a former state senator) says they are seeking $2.5 million from the state legislature for the next two years. She says their hope is to have the first med school class in 2017.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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