SPOKANE, Wash. – Health care workers across the country have been strapped down for the past 2 years as they battle the pandemic. A big part of that is the need for more people in the medical field, and while that’s been clearer than ever, it’s not a new issue. Local hospitals are struggling to find solutions, as are universities.
Washington State University School of Medicine recruits new students with the idea of keeping them in Washington after graduation.
Getting into medical school is already a big challenge for students who dream of becoming doctors, and at WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, they screen the application based on credentials and geography. .
The local college was founded as a medical school for Washington with a mission to solve difficult health problems in Washington.
“We’re looking for people who grew up in Washington State, who are from here, who have ties to the state, because all of these service predictors indicate that even if our students graduate and go to residency and go to another state, they’ll come back to Washington,” explained Leila Harrison, senior associate dean for admissions and student affairs, WSU College of Medicine.
To be accepted, students must be from Washington, have grown up here, have established residency, or have significant ties to Washington. The idea in mind is that even if these students leave the states for residency, they will return to practice once they complete their studies.
“We’re very strict about it because then it ties into our mission to hopefully provide doctors in the state,” Harrison said.
They’ve had 2 senior classes so far, but the sentiment they’re hearing from students who have left the states for residency is that they plan to return.
“I am a first generation student. That said, it takes a village, it really does. I have a very, very large village and I wouldn’t be here without these people. So the people who have helped me get this far, I would want nothing more than to come back and show them their efforts had a purpose,” said Taylor Wintler, a WSU College of Medicine student and Gonzaga graduate. .
Beyond admitting local students, the University also intends to enroll students like Taylor. This includes those who are first-generation college graduates, those who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, or who come from rural backgrounds. The University believes that these students bring a unique and important perspective that will help address difficult health issues in Washington.
Wintler is a perfect example of the type of student this school hopes to develop. “I would love to come back to Spokane, join the ranks of pediatricians who have helped me, give back to WSU medical school, be a preceptor for the classes below me. That would be my goal,” she explained.
The student body is 36% first-generation college graduates, 26% rural, and 55% from lower socio-economic backgrounds. All of these are above the national average in medical schools across the country.
The next cohort of 80 medical students will graduate in a few weeks and go into residency this summer.
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