Legislature okays WSU med school, but withholds initial funding

If  WSU can raise the funds on its own, it makes sense to  go ahead! 

“A nearly century-old restriction giving the University of Washington the exclusive right to operate a public medical school in the state of Washington was removed by the Legislature on Wednesday, opening the door for Washington State University to open its own medical school in Spokane,” the Seattle Times reported Wednesday, but “[t]he bill doesn’t appropriate any state money to help establish a new WSU medical school.”

WSU Medical SchoolWSU had requested $2.5 million in the current budget to hire a dean, associate dean, and support staff, and pursue accreditation; but that funding apparently will be deferred until the next two-year budget cycle, unless WSU finds the money elsewhere. “If a school is ultimately established, WSU estimates it would need $60,000 in state funds per student each year,” the Seattle Times said.

Photo: A WSU Medical School moved closer to reality today. 

My kudos to the legislature.  They removed the codicil preventing WSU from creating a School of Medicine but appropriated NO funds!   While this architect’s drawing is a nice as all such drawings , THE Ave has already pointed out that that the request for funds was way below any realistic estimate.    The estimates WSU gave the legislature were 10 or even 100 fold less than the dollars other schools have used as start ups. This is even more true if the goal is to provide a degree competitive with the world class MD already offered by the UW’s own Spokane based program.  Moreover, if WSU’s goal is to attract residents and fellows who might locate their practices in eastern Washington, there is a need for 100s of millions of dollars to build hospitals able to attract and train young physicians.
If  WSU can raise the funds on its own, it makes sense to  go ahead!   I do not think the legislature ought to determine which schools can offer what courses of study unless those offerings drain funds from other programs the state wants to support.
 However, the legislature may have opened a huge can of worms.  For example, WSU now has the state’s only school of veterinary medicine.  Wouold the legialture be OK if the UW opened a vet school?  UW already has a large part of whatn would be needed to offer a unique school a school targeted at the huge world of veterinary biotech medicine .  The emphasis in biotech is on animals used for research… mice, rats, monkeys even worms!   Modern molecular biology also means that many lab animals are genetically engineered, requiring a lot of knowledge of genetics.  The biology of these animals is different from the biology of  the usual farm animals and pets.  There would be a real demand for the graduates of such a school in the Pharma industry … not just to supervise animal care but devise and carry out experiments.

 It is not difficult to imagine drug companies providing seed money to create such a school



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