WSU takes first steps toward creating new medical school

SPOKANE, Wash. – Now that it has the legal authority to do so, Washington State University is moving forward with creating its own independently-accredited medical school, based in Spokane.

WSU President Elson S. Floyd, Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown and College of Medical Sciences Acting Dean Ken Roberts announced today at a news conference in Spokane that a search committee has been formed to direct and focus the search for the school’s founding dean. That’s an integral part of the process of seeking national accreditation for the new school. (See search committee names below.)

Committees have been formed to write the curriculum that students will be taught and to build the infrastructure needed to support students. Brown and Roberts have also been visiting healthcare providers around the state as they search for partners who will teach WSU’s third- and fourth-year medical students.

“We have talked with several hospitals and physician practices around the state and have found enthusiastic support for our medical school and an eagerness to educate our students,” Roberts said.

The community-based model adopted by WSU calls for students to spend their first two years doing mostly academic and laboratory work in Spokane. Students would then be assigned to WSU campuses in Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver or Everett for two years of clinical study. The idea is, by putting students in community settings for their clinical practice, rather than in large academic environments, that students will build stronger bonds with their adopted communities and perhaps be more willing to practice there after graduation. Other community-based medical schools have shown that when a medical student spends their third and fourth year of medical school training in a community their likelihood of returning to that community to practice is greatly increased.

Dr. Floyd again stated WSU’s continued willingness to remain a partner in supporting the University of Washington’s WWAMI medical education program and pointed out that this continuity is assumed in the Senate’s budget.

Even if the UWSOM does not allow WSU to continue as a partner, Brown and Roberts said they expect WSU to continue to support WWAMI students who study in Spokane. Brown said UW has submitted a request for office and classroom space on the WSU Spokane campus for the next academic year. The details have yet to be negotiated.

President Floyd thanked state Sen. Michael Baumgartner and Rep. Marcus Riccelli for their strong support in leading the bill authorizing a WSU medical school through the legislature. Governor Jay Inslee signed it into law on April 1.

Search committee members include: Larry Corey, M.D., president and director emeritus, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Marty Dickinson, co-chair, WSU Spokane Advisory Council and executive vice president for Umpqua Bank; Dan Dixon, J.D., chief community engagement officer, Providence Health & Services;  Marcos Frank, Ph.D., research professor, WSU College of Medical Sciences; Deb Harper, M.D., Group Health, Spokane; George Novan, M.D., associate dean, WSU College of Medical Sciences; Emma Noyes, M.PH., WSU College of Nursing, Colville Tribal member; Gary Pollack, Ph.D., dean, WSU College of Pharmacy, search committee chair; Nancy Potter, Ph.D., associate professor, WSU Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences; Ken Roberts, Ph.D., acting dean, WSU College of Medical Sciences; Keith Watson, D.O., president, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.


Kathy Barnard, WSU University Communications, 509-335-8055,

Terren Roloff, WSU Spokane, 509-358-7527,

Doug Nadvornick, WSU College of Medical Sciences, 509-358-7540,