Keep your eye on the Riverpoint Campusthings are happening there. It's a growing, vibrant, and exciting place. With the arrival of the first 20 students who entered medical school at Washington State University Spokane in 2008, medical education took on a new face.
These students are now approaching midway through their third year of medical school, and that face is maturing and evolving. It is an impressive transformation they are going through, and the community will be called on to evolve because of them.
When they arrived, they were prepared to transition from superior undergraduate students to physicians.
They were eager, optimistic, full of energy, and ready to go. They were blown out of the water by the amount of material they needed to digest and learn.
They buckled down, began the journey of getting through this stage of training, and are moving ahead.
Good news: They by and large survived their first two years of medical school and they are back. Many have chosen clerkship rotations in Spokane because of the excellent experience they received in their first year.
These connections, which have drawn them back to continue their education here, have been a great thing for our community. They are creating an impact. It is an intriguing transition to observe as they begin the process of giving back.
What is happening as a result of their presence in the community? A lot. As soon as they arrived, questions were bandied about regarding the possibility of a four-year medical school. Growth and the evolution to a four-year school are now the expected norm here.
Greater Spokane Incorporated recently hired a consultant who reported a projected $2.1 billion advantage to the community.
On Oct. 15, over 150 people from the fivestate WWAMI region convened to discuss Graduate Medical Education (GME), the training newly graduated students (turned physicians) must complete in residency/fellowship settings. There are 1,550 GME slots west of the Cascades and 100 slots east of the Cascades.
This inequity is being addressed with the hope of bringing greater numbers of higher-level physician training slots to this community. Our residencies are excited to have local students as candidates from whom they can select their residents and our future colleagues.
In the community, medical students are training with our dental, pharmacy, nursing, and allied health students. This is cutting-edge medical training that we are developing. It enhances the medical team's ability to appreciate other team members' training and most effectively utilize all team members' skills. Students are both part of, and working to, create a "pipeline" that promotes interest in careers in health sciences.
Some participate in a training track that provides training in rural areas, and some participate in a track that focuses on training in Spokane.
In spite of the rigors of their education, they are reaching out to the community in a number of ways.
They are mentoring undergraduate students as well as their own colleagues. They have reached out to elementary kids and are hoping to continue to teach them the value of science. They are stimulating interest in medicine, which helps to impact the front end of the pipeline in careers in medicine.
They are working to give children who might not otherwise have the opportunity a chance to see that medicine is fun and something they could engage in. They continue to be invested in the disenfranchised of our community. They have expanded free clinic offerings at the House of Charity and are hoping to expand its resources to include students from other disciplines. They want to integrate the medical approach to this population to capitalize on the depth of this community's medical professionals.
In addition to sharing their enthusiasm in medicine, they are becoming involved by populating our community's youth groups, search-and-rescue groups, and music groups. These 20 medical students, then 40, now 60 will slowly start to change Spokane. Our investment in this group will continue to impact the future of our community in a beneficial manner. Spokane is far from done with this transition. Stay tuned, become engaged, and be prepared for an enriching evolution.
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