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WWAMI IN TROUBLE

A big part of what has made UW a top medical school is its unusual focus on rural medicine.

That focus is centered on a multistate program to train physicians. WWAMI has campuses in Wyoming, easter Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho ..WWAMI.

WWAMI’s connection to rural medicine led the UW play a world wide role .. including attracting Bill Gates’ investments in global health programs at the UW

The first nick in WWAMI came forom WSU.   Politicians and local promoters from Eastern Washington decided to evict the UW from its presence in Eastern Washington.   This boosterism was driven by the idea that a Spokane based, WSU branded campus would bring investment to the Eastern part of the state’  The rationale for two medical schools in eastern Washington probably has more to do with the choice of a football team logo then the medical school needs out there.   The local boosters succeeded. Now, the UW and WAAMI continues in Spokane at Gonzaga, ironically a private school.

Now comes and even bigger cut … Alaska!   Alaska’s governor proposes eliminating the States only medical education  and the impcat of a unique set of challenges ion rural; medicine.

Alaska governor Mike Dunleavy in an ardent Trumpy. At least in part, his decision about WWAMI seems driven by not wanting ot be part of the ohso socialist tenor of Washington state.  For eal, however, Alaska gaces a massive $1.6 billion deficit … trickle down, drill baby drill economics have not served the state well.  Dunleavy is proposing to cut the deficit to 1.3 billion, with $310 million coming from education system — including a jaw-dropping 41 percent cut to the University of Alaska System. A budget summary posted on Dunleavy’s official site said the reduced spending would allow the system to “focus on core programs and educational services” while encouraging it to focus on instruction in community campuses operated by the state’s three system branches.

The $3.1 million cut to medical education is the deepest possible. It would end medical education in Alaska.  WWAMI,, under the the University of Washington School of Medicine is the only way kids in Alaska can go to Medical School in the state Currently WWAMI trains 80 Alaska students at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The stidents come to Seattle after there first year and return in later years to Alaska for clinical training.  Alaskan graduates who practice medicine in Alaska qualify for loan forgiveness if they work in rural areas of the state for three years or elsewhere in Alaska for five years.  However, Dunleavy has said that only about 55 percent of WWAMI borrowers are licensed physicians practicing medicine in Alaska, and that the program “has not proven effective at meeting the demand for new physicians, despite a significant state investment over the years.” He said the percentage of program graduates practicing in Alaska “continues to decrease.” In a detailed budget analysis the governor posted online, he said that from 2014 to 2018, the percent of graduates practicing in Alaska dropped from 84 percent to 61 percent.

A loss of the A from WWAMI would make the entire program open to question including not just education but  UW Medicine’s effort to become a regional power in health care delivery.  Aside from the medical school classes themselves, the UW runs other UW branded programs in Alaska including programs in family medicine,  physicians assistants, native health care, and more.

Link to story here.


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