By Terren Roloff, WSU Spokane
SPOKANE, Wash. – To help overcome the physician shortage in central and eastern Washington, the Washington State University Board of Regents at its September meeting approved the sale of up to $16.25 million in revenue bonds for design and construction of the University District Health Clinic.
The clinic is part of the Spokane Teaching Health Center consortium of Empire Health Foundation, Providence Health Care and WSU Spokane, which was established in November.
The consortium uses federal teaching health center funds to increase the number of physician residencies. Six additional residency slots are already available in Spokane because of the consortium’s efforts.
Residents are newly graduated medical doctors who must complete at least three years of graduate education in an accredited physician training program before they can apply for board certification in a specialty.
“The community has strived for years to increase resident slots as a way to ensure physicians stay in the region once they complete their medical education,” said WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown. “The partnership is a real achievement for Spokane, and we thank the regents for taking this next step.”
The regents also directed the university to pursue accreditation for a medical school based in Spokane.
“WSU’s commitment to both the onsite health clinic and to pursing accreditation of a community-based medical school puts us on the cutting edge of medical education,” Brown said.
The clinic will allow for relocation of Providence’s family and internal medicine residency programs and clinic to the WSU Spokane campus to continue to provide primary care to the underserved. The clinic is expected to open in 2016 at the site of the former Pierone warehouse to the east of the South Campus Facility.
The clinic will use an emerging trend in health care – a team approach giving patients access to multiple providers in a single location. It will be staffed by medical residents as well as students in the colleges of nursing, pharmacy and medical sciences. The clinic will provide the opportunity for students in these disciplines to work inter-professionally and innovatively to prepare for the future of health care.
In July, the consortium brought six additional medical residents to Spokane. Three are in family medicine and three in internal medicine. As a result, the number of resident slots in Spokane increased to 80.
Approximately 1,500 residency slots are in western Washington. If the teaching health center funds are continued, the consortium hopes to create up to 39 more resident positions over the next five years.
Terren Roloff, WSU Spokane communications, 509-358-7527, cell 509-720-6245, firstname.lastname@example.org