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00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71620001Idaho is one of four western states without a medical school. So, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska and Montana have partnered with the University of Washington School of Medicine to provide in-state tuition rates for out-of-state medical students.The program -- known today as WWAMI (sounds like whammy) -- was created in 1971. Wyoming joined in 1996.According to the WWAMI webpage, these are the programs' five goals:Provide publicly supported medical education.Increase the number of primary-care physicians and correct the maldistribution of physicians.Provide community-based medical education.Expand graduate medical education and continuing medical education.Provide all of these in a cost-effective manner.The state of Idaho subsidizes the cost of attending the University of Washington for 20 medical students per year. Idaho pays about $50,000 per seat, per year, leaving the student to pay just in-state tuition and fees.Here's a look at the number of WWAMI seats Idaho has had over time:00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71620002The state also pays for a similar program with the University of Utah School of Medicine. There, Idaho subsidizes the cost of tuition for eight medical students per year.In fiscal year 2013, Idaho committed $3,986,900 to the WWAMI program and $1,257,200 to the University of Utah.

Washington State University Gets Approval For New Medical School In Spokane

Washington State University

Washington State University's Board of Regents unanimously approved a plan Friday to establish a medical school in Spokane. It has the potential to generate 120 new doctors every year in the Northwest, but the move also tees up a fight between Washington's two largest public universities.

The University of Washington in Seattle is currently the state's only public medical school and it serves as the main destination for med students in a five-state area including Idaho.

But WSU-Spokane chancellor Lisa Brown says the program just isn't enough to satisfy the shortage of doctors.

“We are dramatically underserved in the region in terms of access to medical care and seats for medical students," says Brown. "Washington state is in the bottom in the country in terms of how many seats we have.”

But the University of Washington has suggested expanding their existing partnership with WSU would be a cheaper option. University of Washington regent Orin Smith said Thursday he was “disappointed” by the anticipated move to open another medical school at a time when the state legislature faces more pressing funding needs.

A study commissioned by Washington State University projects the medical school would cost the state between $1 and $3 million a year during the planning period and initial startup -- which could be as soon as 2017. By 2024, when the school reached full enrollment, it could cost $47 million annually.

WSU's medical school would operate under a what's known as a “community-based” model. Medical school students would train in places like Yakima and the Tri-Cities rather than at a central academic hospital.

The feasibility study found the number of available slots for med students hasn't kept pace with the state's population and doctors are disproportionately centered in the Seattle area.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

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