WSU medical students to spend some time training in Everett

The Everett Herald

By Sharon Salyer

EVERETT — Washington State University’s new medical school program kicks off in August. One of the first activities for some of those students will be a trip to Everett.

Classes begin Aug. 21 in Spokane. “Part of the very first week of school they will be spending time Everett,” said Ken Roberts, a WSU vice dean for academic and community partnerships.

This summer’s visit by about 15 medical students is the first of a total of six trips to Everett they will make during their first two years of medical school.

“August is just around the corner,” said Bob Drewel, a senior adviser at WSU North Puget Sound. “We’re very excited.”

Everett is one of four cities across the state where the WSU students will be trained. The other sites are WSU’s campuses in Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Spokane, where its colleges of nursing, pharmacy and medical sciences are based.

The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is named for the former college president whose vision helped WSU establish the new medical school.

More than 700 people applied for the 60 available spots in WSU’s charter medical school class, said Randy Bolerjack, a WSU North Puget Sound spokesman. Some 300 students are now being interviewed, with the final selection of 60 students scheduled to be announced in early May.

The cost of tuition and fees is expected to be $35,000 a year. Prospective students have to be willing to practice in rural and urban areas in need of physicians, Bolerjack said.

“We want to take the biggest health care challenge that any community faces and prepare them to work in those communities,” Bolerjack said.

That’s part of the reason students will spend time at the four regional campuses, said Dr. Erica Peavy, of The Everett Clinic, who has been working with WSU officials on the training that will occur in Everett.

The first two years, all 60 students will attend classes in Spokane, making periodic trips to one of four communities.

Some of the students will return to Everett full-time for their final two years of training. They will learn from area physicians by assisting in caring for patients at local clinics, such as The Everett Clinic, and Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

They’ll also take classes at WSU North Puget Sound taught by local physicians and Spokane-based faculty, Peavy said. Local physicians will begin training in March with WSU faculty to prepare for teaching the medical school students.

“Right from the start, in addition to a lot of book learning, they’ll get some actual exposure to how clinical medicine is practiced,” said Dr. Frank Andersen, the Everett hospital’s interim chief medical officer. He is helping coordinate the training of the WSU students that will take place at the hospital.

“You begin to relate things you see in an anatomy class to some actual clinical situations,” Andersen said.

Students will be invited to stay in the homes of physicians and hospital board members for their initial week-long visits. “It’s sort of like the (Everett) Silvertips living with families in the community,” Andersen said.

During the students’ third and fourth years, they will spend most of their time at the hospital, getting experience in areas such as surgery, obstetrics and pediatrics. The plan is to also have them spend about a half day a week following the care of the same patients throughout the year.

“This is certainly different than when I trained 40 years ago,” Andersen said. “They not only get exposure to hospital medicine, but they also see what it’s like to be with a patient or their family over a period of time.”

Providence has wanted to become a teaching center, considered part of its growth as a medical center. “It really fits with our mission that not only are we providing hands-on care to patients but we’re also contributing the future pool of providers that will be a resource for this community,” Andersen said.

The new medical school provides a way for students to become physicians who didn’t have access to medical school before due to the shortage of student slots, Drewel said. As students graduate and go to communities across the state, it also will provide patients better access to medical care, he said.

“This is a marvelous opportunity for the students, but a bigger opportunity for the city, county and region,” Drewel said.