Gonzaga University may jump into the medical school fray.
The private Jesuit university announced this afternoon that it is exploring a partnership with University of Washington to operate an expanded physician training program in Spokane.
Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh said this afternoon that UW officials contacted him this fall to pitch the possibility and that he agreed to consider it. No timeframe for a decision has been set.
“We at Gonzaga, together with many other community members, have actively supported expansion of WWAMI medical education – and the promise of economic growth stimulated by research – in Spokane since the original proposal to bring the four-year medical school to the University District launched,” McCulloh said in prepared remarks accompanying the announcement. “Given the reality that expanding medical education has always been considered in view of the opportunities for Spokane and the benefits to Eastern Washington, we feel it is important to get community input on the role and value of a UW-GU partnership ”
The announcement came just hours after two Spokane legislators announced plans to back a new Washington State University medical school on the Riverpoint campus.
After years of collaboration, WSU and UW ended their partnership in the Spokane physician training program in October over differing visions of how best to fill Washington’s need for more doctors, particularly in rural communities.
WSU wants to establish its own medical school that would train 120 new doctors per year, while UW wants to expand the existing Spokane program initially to take 80 new students per year and eventually grow to 120.
Gonzaga officials said they and representatives of the University of Washington will meet with civic leaders and others in the coming weeks to evaluate whether to proceed with a potential partnership.
McCulloh said medical education relies on multiple partnerships throughout the community and that any decision on how to proceed should include discussions with them.
“The expansion of medical education and research is a top priority for Spokane, and if Gonzaga can meaningfully assist in the achievement of that goal, we feel an obligation to seriously consider how best to do so,” said McCulloh.
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