Inslee signs WSU medical school legislation

Washington Governor Jay Inslee today signed into law a bill that gives Washington State University (WSU) the authority to create an independently accredited medical school in Spokane.

House Bill 1559 amends a 98-year-old state statute that gave exclusive rights to provide medical education to the University of Washington. The bill was nearly unanimously approved last month by the Senate, following an 81-17 vote in the House.

“By removing a historic prohibition, we allow Washington State University to begin planning for a new medical school,” said Inslee. “And we will promote good family-wage jobs in the greater Spokane area.”

WSU plans to follow a community-based medical education model where students would spend their first two years on the Spokane campus and then go into communities throughout the state for clinical training with existing care providers like PeaceHealth and Legacy Health.

“The [community model] connects us and really makes us excited about what is really a system initiative – not just a WSU Spokane or WSU Pullman initiative,” said WSU Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer, when the medical school initiative was originally proposed in December. “I think it really is a statewide initiative and that is very important to us.”

Now that the medical school policy issue has been decided, WSU has asked lawmakers for $2.5 million during the next two years to begin the accreditation process that could last as long as two years. Once preliminary accreditation is granted, the university can begin recruiting and accepting students.

The university would like to admit the first WSU College of Medicine class in August 2017.

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