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WSU Government Relations Newsbeat

Getting to know WSU’s new medical students

Legislators in Vancouver and Everett this week got acquainted with some of WSU’s 60 new first year medical students during lunch events on WSU campuses, finding an alignment with the mission of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

“I chose WSU because of the mission statement to serve underserved populations,” one student said.

“WAZZU has a different mission statement,” another said. “Everyone talked about public service, but WSU has a program around it.”

WSU’s 60 first year medical students were in their designated regions this week, training in hubs at WSU campuses in Richland, Spokane, Everett and Vancouver. It was the second of three weeks of clinical training they’ll get during the academic year. Students will return to their designated regions for the entirety of their third and fourth years of training.

The lunch events are designed to introduce legislators to the students they’ve supported while providing students with the opportunity to engage with policy makers. In both locations, legislators found students who were attracted to WSU’s mission to serve the underserved.

One student at the Everett event talked of having spent time serving underserved populations overseas, then she realized that “there are so many people in my own community that needed help. They need help right here. I’m so happy I’m here.”

Several already had life experience working in various fields, including military, health and education. “The role of a doctor is to provide medical care, but it is also to be a community player,” one student said. “WSU fits that vision of what a doctor can be — a leader and a community player.”

In Vancouver, several students spoke about their decision to commit to WSU as a “no brainer.”

When asked about the application process one student shared about WSU’s family feel: “They really did want to get to know me.” Others spoke to efforts to ensure students care for themselves first. “Every week they would ask ‘how are you feeling?’” one student said.

“The school tends to lean towards working together,” one student said to describe the program’s model. “It’s not about who is most important, it’s about everyone coming together to treat the patient. It’s about bringing the best care to our patients, and the school really practices that.”

Students appeared energized by the opportunity to get into actual clinical settings.

“I’m looking forward to having a really good grasp working with live patients,” one said. “We have a very patient-focused program.”

State revenue forecast up again

A new forecast of state tax collections released Tuesday has increased projections for the current 2017-2019 budget cycle by $163.4 million and for the 2019-21 budget cycle by $196 million.  This pushes total revenue projections to $45.8 billion for 2017-2019 and $50 billion for 2019-21.

This forecast will be used by Gov. Jay Inslee to draft the budget proposal he’ll unveil next month. The Legislature convenes Jan. 14 to begin writing its budget proposals and will have the benefit of one more forecast due out March 20 before releasing them.

Tuesday’s report found that Washington’s unemployment rate declined to an all-time low of 4.3% in October from 4.4% in September. New risks to the forecast included the uncertainty of trade partnerships in the purposed European Union and United Kingdom split.

Legislators meet with medical students at WSU Tri-Cities


Members from the Washington State Legislature travelled out to the WSU Tri-Cities campus today to attend a lunch forum with the first 15 medical students assigned to the university’s medical school hub in the Tri-Cities. Students thanked legislators for their support of the medical school and discussed their individual experiences so far.

“WSU is a family,” said one student, “Once you’re a part of it, there’s nothing you can compare it to.”

The class is beginning their third intercession week of the academic year today, in which
they will be spending the entire week training and learning in their assigned region where they will be spending their third and fourth years of medical school.

“I think one of the things that was surprising was how much community support there is,” said one student.

“Look where I’m living,” another remarked, referring to the college’s Homestay Program. “I’m at somebody’s house who is a practicing physician. I’m having dinner with their kids.”

Several students also said they were struck by how well faculty and staff at the college listen.

“I just felt so heard when I was at my interview,” said one student. Another noted, “it’s so cool be a part of the first class. You get a say. They really listen to our feedback.”

For those students who were undergraduates at WSU before entering the medical school, they say they still feel that “same WSU magic.” As one student put it, “I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

WSU medical residency bill signed into law

Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 2443 into law this afternoon, officially recognizing the Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine as an accredited medical school and adding the university as a third co-chair of the Family Medicine Residency Network’s advisory board alongside the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.

Established in 1975, the Family Medicine Residency Network supports and encourages the development of family medicine residencies across the state of Washington. As a member of the advisory board, WSU would assist in making recommendations on the selection of areas where affiliated residency programs will exist.

The bill passed through the House and Senate with full support on both sides of the aisle as it made its way through the Legislature this session. HB 2443 passed unanimously off the Senate floor with a vote of 49-0 and off the House floor with a count of 98-0.

Video of today’s bill signing can be viewed below.

Legislature adjourns, WSU agenda approved

The Legislature adjourned its 2018 session Thursday night, bringing to close a 60-day supplemental session that saw Washington State University’s legislative agenda approved in full.

The House and Senate on Thursday approved a budget agreement that fully funds WSU’s $1.272 million request to correct an oversight and fund last year’s legislation to expand and transfer the state’s solar energy incentive program to the WSU Energy Program. It also fully funds WSU’s $500,000 request to support the JCDREAM advanced materials research collaborative.

Also on the governor’s desk is House Bill 2443, a WSU-backed bill to add the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine to the Family Medicine Residency Network.

And earlier this session the Legislature approved a capital budget that included construction funding for two agriculture buildings in Pullman, design of a new academic building in the Tri-Cities and predesign of a new Life Sciences Building in Vancouver.

In addition, advances were made on other WSU supported priorities to provide State Need Grants to an additional 4,600 students statewide, reestablish the WSU-led Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Workgroup and establish a loan program for medical students who commit to serve in rural areas.

There were other wins to promote Open Educational Resources and access to the College Bound Scholarship for undocumented students as well.

All but the capital budget still need to be signed by the governor.

Budget agreement funds JCDREAM, Need Grant

Legislative budget writers on Wednesday unveiled a supplemental operating budget agreement that fully funded WSU’s $500,000 annual request to support the JCDREAM advanced materials research collaborative and provided funding to serve an additional 4,600 students with State Need Grants.

The budget agreement also breathed new life into plans to reconvene the Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Workgroup. A bill to do just that died last week, but language in the budget agreement reinstated the group and provided $20,000 annually to support it.

The budget agreement reconciles differences between proposals put forth by the governor in December and the House and Senate in February. Floor votes are expected tomorrow, the last scheduled day of this year’s 60-day legislative session.

The budget funded WSU’s two primary supplemental priorities. All three previous proposals already had funded WSU’s $1.272 million request to correct an oversight and fund last year’s legislation to expand and transfer the state’s solar energy incentive program to the WSU Energy Program.

But the funding for the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials was in question as it had been funded in two of the three proposals. WSU leads the legislatively approved advanced materials research collaborative with the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with participation from other state universities and community colleges. The university’s request would fund the hiring of a full-time director and support staff and provide for a small competitive research grants program.

The House and Senate also compromised on their positions to better fund the State Need Grant, providing $18.5 million to reduce the ranks of students who are eligible to receive a State Need Grant but don’t receive one.

Medical residency bill headed to the governor’s desk

The state Senate gave final legislative approval this afternoon to Washington State University’s medical residency bill – HB 2443 – sending it to the governor’s desk. The bill received full support from the House earlier this month.

The bill recognizes the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine as an accredited medical school and adds it as a third co-chair of the Family Medicine Residency Network’s advisory board alongside the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.

The Family Medicine Residency Network was established in 1975 to support family medicine residencies in the state and encourage the development of new ones. State law was updated in 2015 and funding provided to incentivize hospitals and clinics to expand such programs and develop new ones. The advisory board also was established to make recommendations on the selection of areas where affiliated residency programs will exist.

Video from the Senate floor hearing on HB 2443 can be viewed below:

Medical residency bills awaiting final vote

A pair of bills that would add the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine to the Family Medicine Residency Network have advanced from policy committees in the opposite chamber and only one now needs a floor vote to be sent to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 2443 was voted out of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee Tuesday and today Senate Bill 6093 was heard and voted out of the House Health Care Committee. Both now advance to await a floor vote. Both chambers already have voted out their own version without a single dissenting vote.

The bills recognize the college as an accredited medical school and adds it as a third co-chair of the Family Medical Education Advisory Board alongside the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.

The network was established in 1975 to support family medicine residencies in the state and encourage the development of new ones. State law was updated in 2015 and funding provided to incentivize hospitals and clinics to expand such programs and develop new ones. The advisory board also was established to make recommendations on the selection of areas where affiliated residency programs will exist.

WSU supports Open Educational Resources bill

Washington State University threw its support behind legislation Tuesday that calls for a pilot program to fund small grants to increase the use of no cost or low cost open educational resources.

House Bill 1561 is a holdover from last year and was voted off the House floor 72-24 earlier this session. Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee was its first of session. You can view WSU’s testimony below.

The bill would establish the grant program with the Washington Student Achievement Council, which dole out grants if funded for them. WSU already has self-funded small grant programs and use of open educational resources has been spreading as a result, particularly at campuses in Vancouver and Pullman and the Global Campus.

UPDATE: House budget funds WSU Energy Program, Need Grant but not JCDREAM

The supplemental operating budget proposal outlined by leaders in the state House of Representatives Tuesday funds a requested budget fix for the WSU Energy Program, makes a big investment in the State Need Grant but doesn’t fund the university’s request for the JCDREAM advanced materials initiative.

The university’s request of $1.272 million to correct an oversight and fund last year’s bill to expand and transfer the state’s solar energy program to the WSU Energy Program is now funded in all three budget proposals. The governor and Senate proposed funding it earlier.

Proposals by the governor and Senate also funded WSU’s $500,000 request to support the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials — a WSU led research collaborative with the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Lab – but the House plan unveiled Tuesday does not.

Both the House and Senate budgets make new investments in the State Need Grant. The House plan adds $25 million to reduce the ranks of the eligible but unserved by 6,200. The Senate plan provides $9.8 million to reduce those ranks by 2,500.

Both the House and Senate budgets will be heard in their respective committees this afternoon with the expectation of being moved out later this week. After both chambers vote their budgets off the floor, legislators will negotiate a compromise to send to the governor.

UPDATE: Below, you can view WSU’s Tuesday testimony on the House budget in the Appropriations Committee