September 5, 2014 in City

Inslee withholds judgment on who should run Spokane medical school

By The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

Gov. Jay Inslee talks to reporters in Olympia on Thursday about education funding and who should operate a medical school in Spokane.
(Full-size photo)

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee said he’s keeping an open mind about which state university should operate a medical school in Spokane, but he has no problem with the two schools using state resources to make their case to the public.

Asked Thursday whether the University of Washington or Washington State University should run a new school to train physicians in Spokane, Inslee said other questions are more important to answer first. Among them are the true need for additional doctors, the most cost-effective solution and the effects any new system would have on the current five-state consortium to train doctors that UW operates.

“I do not go into it with any preconceived notions,” Inslee said during a news conference during which he also discussed public school funding and the state’s economy.

Both universities are lobbying legislators for control of a new medical school that would be based at Spokane’s Riverpoint campus. UW wants the state to expand the current WWAMI program that trains doctors for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, adding as many as 320 graduate medical students by the end of this decade. WSU wants the state to approve a new medical school under its control, with an emphasis on recruiting and training physicians in Spokane and underserved rural areas.

The current WSU Spokane magazine issue lays out in a four-page spread the reasons that university is studying a separate medical school. UW counters with a “Next Generation Medical Education” page on its main university website that offers a rebuttal to WSU in a section it calls “myths and facts.” It also is sponsoring Internet ads supporting WWAMI in Spokane on local news sites.

Inslee said he’s not troubled by the way the two universities are making their case.

“I think it’s important to get the right answers, and more information is better than less right now,” he said.

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