Gonzaga & UW Explore Medical School Partnership

Gonzaga and the University of Washington announced plans to explore a medical education and research partnership at the UW School of Medicine in Spokane. The UW currently operates the only publicly funded medical school for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI), and the new partnership is proposed as an opportunity to help grow and expand the UW Spokane program.

“A key strength of the University of Washington School of Medicine has always been strong and dynamic partnerships with higher education partners and healthcare professionals in communities across our region. Gonzaga not only has a national reputation for academic excellence, but also a deep commitment to the economic and social well-being of the Spokane community and the region,” said UW President Michael Young in a press release. “We are excited about the opportunities this public-private partnership could create — for students, faculty, and for greater research and economic development activity in Spokane.”

The announcement comes at a time when Washington is facing a shortage in primary care physicians – especially in rural communities – and inadequate access to healthcare professionals. To alleviate the crisis, the UW has proposed expanding its current WWAMI medical education program in Spokane.

The WWAMI partnership, operated by the UW, has garnered tremendous success over its 40-year history. The program is well-positioned to efficiently and effectively alleviate the physician shortage, as the nation’s top primary-care, family medicine and rural medicine training program – a ranking its earned for the past 23 years by the U.S. News & World Report.

The proposed public-private partnership would be the first collaboration between WWAMI and an independent, Catholic and Jesuit university. Both universities plan to evaluate the potential partnership with key constituencies and determine next steps moving forward. Washington State University recently dissolved its role in the WWAMI partnership, and will be seeking its own independent medical school.

A detailed description of the University’s expansion plans can be found here, which includes the results of a recent study that found the UW’s plan to double the size of its medical school in Spokane to be the most cost-effective option to meeting Washington’s physician workforce demand.