Pledging to boost rural health care, Gov. Chris Gregoire today said she wants to expand Spokane-area training programs for first-year medical and dental students, as well as a nursing PhD program in Spokane.
“This is a cost effective, common-sense way to address significant shortages of health care professionals in our state,” Gregoire said in a recording distributed to reporters this morning.
No figures were immediately available. Gregoire’s Thursday announcement in Spokane was one of several previews of her 2007-2009 budget proposal, which she’ll unveil next week.
But the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce is calling for a $25 million effort, enough to launch a program starting with 20 medical students, 8 dental students and 15 PhD nursing students per year.
Gregoire also said she wants to add 20 master’s-level nursing students and 30 nursing undergraduates in Spokane.
Much of that would be construction money. Washington State University’s Larry Ganders said the actual operating cost would be about $15 million.
“This is very good news. We don’t yet have the budget to look at, but obviously the governor is making the commitment,” said Ganders. Spokane area lawmakers worked hard to get the issue on the governor’s radar, he said.
“Some people think that because these programs are so expensive, it’s OK that our doctors and dentists are being educated in other states and countries,” Ganders said. “But it’s less OK if you’re the parent of someone who wants to be a doctor or dentist.”