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Class has begun this week for new UW medical students in Spokane

UW med school in Spokane
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
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The new building is also the hub for Gonzaga's human physiology program and laboratory space.

It's the first class of students to study in the new UW-GU Health Partnership building in the University District.

This week, fall classes began for the students in one of Spokane’s two medical schools, the University of Washington. Those students are headquartered in a new building they share with health sciences students from Gonzaga University.

As she looked around her new academic home, first-year medical student Samira Pardakhtim was wowed.

“It’s an amazing building. I feel like it’s so smartly engineered," she said.

She says it’s much different than the building she toured last spring. The Schoenberg Center was been the medical school’s hub for several years. It’s a round building with small classrooms and not many windows. This is different. Big windows and plenty of places for students to congregate.

“These study rooms are really quiet. The big rooms, the walls, one of the walls are white boards that closes and opens so you can make it into a big classroom or a smaller one. But it’s whiteboard so we can teach and study on that," she said.

Down the hall is a gleaming anatomy lab with about 20 stainless steel tables and several T-V monitors on the walls. It’s the place where anatomy professor Zachary Gallaher will preside over lessons and dissections.

“The space in here is designed to be open, so that all of our students get to learn at the same time in one space. We get this nice collegial environment so students can work among their peers at the same that they’re learning from guest specialists. It’s state of the art so I can share technology across the room," he said.

The building also houses Gonzaga undergraduate students. Gonzaga’s human physiology program is housed here. Kevin Measor walks the line between the two programs. He lectures at both.

“You know, we’ve always had medical students and undergrads on the same campus, but they’ve been fairly isolated. Now they’re in the same building, sharing the same nooks, the same rooms, and so, the amount of collaboration between those, it’s much easier, where before it was, like, a little bit more work. On that front I’m super excited," he said.

"For my medical school teaching, it just feels a lot more like this is a community. We have our own large building, rather than we’re just shoved into a corner of Gonzaga’s campus," Measor said.

Samira.medical student.cropped
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
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Samira Pardakhtim is a first-year University of Washington medical student in Spokane.

For Samira Pardakhtim, it’s the start of a new chapter of her life. Her husband and family are back in the Seattle area. She rented a room here and is ready to get to work.

“I felt like being here alone, it gives me more opportunity of study rather than being back in Seattle and maybe be sometimes distracted with all the fun activities and family has around me," she said.

That’s probably a good strategy, given the huge challenge she has before her over the next four years.