Members of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee held a work session on meeting workforce demands in Washington State’s Health Care Industry this week and called WSU forward to present its case for how the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is addressing this major issue. Since the medical school’s authorization in 2015, the university’s mission has been to provide more physicians in core disciplines to rural and underserved areas of Washington. According to Ken Roberts, Vice Dean of Academic and Community Partnerships at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, the university is seeking to address this demand by focusing on the admissions process and curriculum structure to influence the outcomes of their mission goals.

By creating a targeted approach to their admissions process the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine has seen the formulation of a student body that positively represents the communities which the university seeks to serve. The combined first two classes of the medical school have included a student demographic which are:

  • 28% first generation college students
  • 31% students of color
  • 38% low-income students
  • 58% women
  • 44% over the age of 25 (higher than average and indicating a slightly more mature student body)
  • from 60 Washington communities
  • 100% are Washingtonians

“You don’t have out-of-state tuition at the medical school,” noted Senator Jeff Holy, “There’s a reason for that.” This is because the University is pulling its medical student pool directly from local communities around Washington State. As Dr. Roberts points out “if you want physicians to go back and practice in areas where it’s needed most, you need students coming into your medical school that represent residents from those places.”

The second focus on curriculum is driven by the selection of core disciplines the university will train students in and also where they will be trained in. The university will anchor student education at its four medical school campuses in Everett, Vancouver, Spokane and the Tri-Cities, before getting students “out into more rural spaces so they have a chance to bond and connect with the communities and medical practices there — and most importantly with the patient population that they are seeing in those places.” Currently the University as 79 clinical affiliation agreements with medical practices across the state – from Forks to Goldendale and from Grand Coulee to Longview.

Additionally, the University continues to raise funds to offset student costs. “I’m happy to report that we’ve raised over $21 million for the medical school that’s helping reduce the cost of education for our students,” says Chris Mulick, Director of State Relations at Washington State University. “Every student so far as has been offered a scholarship, and we have had students who can afford tuition reject the scholarship asking us to repurpose it towards other students who have greater needs. These are the type of students we’re recruiting.”

Check out the video below to watch the full presentation, including more information on WSU’s admission selection process and its curriculum plan.