WHY WWAMI SPOKANE?
Spokane's four hospitals, supportive clinical base, and five residency programs make it ideal for medical training.
Our campus boasts a biomedical research presence that includes world-class research in sleep and neuroscience, chromosome biology, and substance abuse.
- During your first year, you'll partner with a local physician—a "preceptor"—for four hours a week learning clinical skills and observing the practice of medicine in the community.
- Spokane's large medical community means you'll choose from a body of more than 60 preceptors in a variety of specialties.
- This one-on-one work will put you ahead of the curve.
- The following summer offers additional opportunities to gain practical experience, reach out to communities, and conduct research.
- A mentoring program allows students to connect with physicians who share similar interests.
WWAMI was founded with 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 (residency training) and continuing medical education
- provide all of these in a cost-effective manner.
Doctors in dozens of Northwest communities supervise medical students in clerkship and residency programs. Students may also elect to complete their third and fourth years in any of the participating WWAMI locations.
See the other WWAMI locations on this WWAMI Program map (PDF) »
First-year courses are taken at WSU Spokane and are the same as those offered at the UW School of Medicine.
- Microscopic Anatomy (Histology)
- Anatomy and Embryology
- Mechanisms in Cellular Physiology
- Introduction to Clinical Medicine
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Clinical Preceptorship
- Medical Information for Decision Making
- Introduction to Immunology
- Microbiology and Infectious Disease
- Systems of Human Behavior
- Musculoskeletal System (Anatomy of Extremities)
- Nervous System
Besides their classroom work, students are also assigned medical preceptors and get experience in clinical settings.
Student Research Requirement
WWAMI students must complete a research project, which is usually done in the summer between the first and second years. For details on student research projects, visit our Medical Sciences research page ».
Students from all WWAMI sites take their second-year classes at the University of Washington at Seattle. Beginning in 2013, students on the WSU Spokane campus have the option of staying in Spokane for their second year.
|First Semester||Second Semester|
Third & Fourth Years
At the conclusion of the first two years, students enter the predominantly clinical phase of their education. During this phase, students have the opportunity to receive training at UW School of Medicine training sites in Seattle as well as numerous clinical sites in both rural and urban locations throughout the five-state WWAMI region.
Students in Washington can select from multiple locations including sites in eastern and central Washington. New clerkship sites are continually being developed. See a list of eastern and central Washington locations here (pdf) ».
Some students train within the Spokane medical community, where they will complete, at minimum, five of the six required third-year clerkships. That allows them to live and train in one place for the entire year. Students can also complete all of their fourth-year required clerkships in Spokane.
But they also have options to work in rural areas as well, including the WRITE (WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience) program.
WRITE is designed to give selected third-year medical students an appropriate mix of ambulatory and hospital experience during 20 weeks of clinical work at a rural primary care teaching site. During their time, students will fulfill their Family Medicine requirement and part of their Medicine, Pediatrics and Psychiatry clerkship requirements.
Required and elective clerkships are available at multiple locations throughout the five-state WWAMI region. For information about specific state offerings see UWSOM third year curriculum ».
Links to UWSOM information
Admission to the WWAMI Medical Education program is coordinated through the UW School of Medicine ».
The UW School of Medicine uses the AMCAS to manage its medical school application process. Applications are due through AMCAS by October 15.
A secondary application form will be sent to qualified applicants after the UW School of Medicine has received and reviewed the AMCAS application. The completed secondary application materials (listed on the UWSOM website here) must be submitted to the UW Admissions Office by December 1, 2013. Materials received after this date will NOT be considered.
Selected applicants will receive an interview invitation between October and March. Every attempt will be made to notify applicants of final determinations by the second week of April.
Complete information on the UW School of Medicine application procedures and requirements are available on their website ».
In the past, students were able to complete three of the four years of medical education in Spokane (traditionally students spend their second year in Seattle). Beginning in 2013, students will have the option to complete all four years on the health sciences campus in Spokane.
WWAMI Medical Education Program applicants must comply with the residency requirements set by the UW School of Medicine's application procedures and requirements ».
The University of Washington School of Medicine will interview candidates periodically throughout the year at the Riverpoint Campus in Spokane. Applicants have the chance to see the campus, meet current WWAMI Spokane students, and attend a class.
Three people from the admissions committee will conduct the interviews. Applications are reviewed at a meeting afterward. Applicants are then notified if they are accepted, rejected or continue to be under consideration.
Read more on the interview process here ».
Getting to Campus
Driving directions from 1-90
- Take the Hamilton Street exit (exit 282 from eastbound I-90; exit 282A from westbound I-90).
- At the traffic light, turn left onto Spokane Falls Boulevard.
- Just after the bridge crosses the Spokane River, turn right onto N. Riverpoint Boulevard, which runs through campus. Park in the metered areas of the Academic Center parking lot.
Coming from the airport?
- Drive northeast on W. Airport Drive (about two miles). Merge onto U.S. Hwy. 2 and drive about a mile. Then merge onto I-90 eastbound.
- Follow directions listed above from I-90
Spokane International Airport lists multiple transportation and hotel options on their website.
Spokane Transit: You can ride the bus from the airport to The Plaza, Spokane's downtown bus hub. From there, the #26, 28 and 29 buses bring you to the Riverpoint Campus.
Targeted Rural and Underserved Track
This program matches first year students with a continuity community practice site where you can participate in programs from the first summer before medical school through your medical school years, and possibly beyond, working one-on-one under physicians in rural health care settings and other underserved areas of Washington, Montana and Idaho. The program is administered through the UWSOM Dept. of Family Medicine and the Montana, Washington and Idaho Regional Offices.
Interviews with Washington TRUST applicants are conducted at WSU Spokane. All invited applicants will see the Riverpoint campus, meet current WWAMI Spokane students, attend a class, and be interviewed by the admissions committee.
Office hours: 8AM - 5PM, M-F
STUDENT COMMUNITY SERVICE
WWAMI Spokane has a number of extracurricular student groups and activities to gain professional knowledge, understand the current state of medicine, and give back to the community. These opportunities give hands-on learning while serving in a setting outside the normal study routine. As a WWAMI Spokane undergraduate medical student, you can participate in a wide variety of activities, including membership and activism in a national medical student association, informal study groups or volunteer activities to build your clinical and professional skills.
These opportunities along with the WWAMI Medical Education Program curriculum give you an amount of professional exposure that no other medical school in the nation can offer. Our local physician partners and mentoring program give you an additional step above the rest, and ensure you are prepared and confident as you progress toward being a practicing physician.
Read specific details on our extracurricular student groups and activities on our current students page.
If you have questions about any of our local physician partners, mentoring program or the WWAMI Medical Education Program, contact one of our academic coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speak to a Student
If you would like to speak to a student who spent their first year in Spokane, we have several students who have volunteered and would be happy to answer your specific questions. Please contact us and we will put you in touch with them.
BECOMING A MEDICAL DOCTOR
A general overview of medical education
The journey from high school graduation to practicing physician can take 11-15 years or more. Here is a general overview of what a graduating high school senior should expect as they prepare for their academic path to becoming a doctor:
- Undergraduate degree (4-5 years)
- Medical school (4 years; graduate officially becomes a medical doctor, but not licensed to practice)
- Residency (3-7 years; then licensed to practice)
Undergraduate v. Graduate Education
The term "undergraduate medical education" refers to the four years of medical school after completing a bachelor's degree. Despite being a college graduate, the medical student is considered an undergraduate in terms of completing the work needed for a medical degree.
After graduating from medical school, the student must complete a residency program before he or she can be licensed as a physician. Some fields of medicine require additional subspecialty training beyond residency, which is known as fellowship training. Training at the residency and fellowship levels is referred to as "graduate medical education". You might think of it as apprenticeship training in the profession of medicine—it provides medical school graduates with the additional hands-on experience they need to become a more seasoned doctor.
Getting into Medical School
Medical school applicants first get their bachelor's degrees at a college or university (premedical education). They don't have to complete a science-related degree, but they must compile at least 32 semester credit hours (or 48 quarter credit hours) of specific undergraduate science courses, including chemistry, physics and biology. As a consequence, many applicants pursue a science major, probably because it makes it easier to fulfill both their major and premedical requirements at the same time.
During their junior year or at the start of their senior year of college, applicants take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a standardized multiple-choice test of verbal reasoning, physical sciences, biological sciences, and writing skills.
Most students apply to medical school at the start of their senior year in college, but some apply later in life, after having had a career in some other area. On average, each applicant applies to 11 medical schools. They submit an application form, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, a college transcript, and their MCAT score. If the applicant passes the first level of admission requirements—most commonly a review of grade point average (GPA) and MCAT score—the medical school invites the applicant for an interview. Medical schools make their final decisions based on the "complete package": submitted materials, the interview, and the applicant's commitment to medicine.
The first two years of medical school are primarily dedicated to basic medical education: the study of the basic sciences of medicine. During that time, students also start practicing basic clinical skills, such as taking patient histories and performing physical examinations, and learn about professionalism and ethics. Faculty members who teach courses may be clinicians (M.D.) or researchers (Ph.D.), depending upon the subject matter.
During the third and fourth years of study, the focus of medical education shifts to the clinical curriculum. Medical students move onto the hospital wards and into clinics to function as junior members of the medical team. Closely supervised by practicing physicians or residents, they begin to diagnose and treat patients, putting into practice the basic science knowledge and skills learned during the first two years. At the end of their second year, medical students take the first part of a three-part national test, the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which tests their fundamental knowledge in the medical sciences.
During the third year, students experience all the key fields of medicine as part of their clinical clerkships. Students, or clinical clerks, learn to improve their history and physical examination skills, write orders on charts, write progress notes, present patients verbally to their medical team and faculty, discuss cases with patients’ families, and do procedures.
Core clerkships required of third-year students at the University of Washington School of Medicine include a 12-week rotation in internal medicine and six-week rotations in family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, and surgery.
At the end of their third year, students take the second part of the USMLE examination.
During the fourth year, students complete their last required clerkships, four-week rotations in a surgery subspecialty, emergency medicine, neurology and rehabilitation medicine. They also go through a number of elective rotations, which take the form of either a consultative elective or a subinternship.
The consultative elective is one in which students respond to consultation requests sent to a subspecialty service by physicians. They are the first to evaluate their patients and present their findings and impressions to the subspecialty attending physician, or fellow, before giving that information to the original requesting physician.
Subinternships involve students acting as interns. They work on the wards, as they did in their third year, but with added responsibilities. Students work more directly under the supervision of a more senior-level physician than before and are given more leeway in decision-making and charting.
During the first part of the fourth year, students also apply to residency programs. This is done through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), an organization made up of key academic medical oversight agencies and medical student associations. The process is similar to that of applying to medical school—students send an application form, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and USMLE test scores to the residency programs of their choice and go through a round of interviews. Both students and residency programs submit a ranking list, and students are matched with the highest-ranked residency program that has also listed them as desirable and acceptable.
Residency & Fellowship
Residency lasts three to seven years, depending on the field of medicine chosen by the new doctor. Fellowship training—specialized training beyond the residency years—adds another two to three years to the process. It is similar to residency training, but with an added emphasis on conducting research. As residents and fellows proceed through training, they assume more independence and more supervisory responsibility in the training of more junior residents and medical students.
There are several terms used to describe residency. "Internship" refers to the first year of residency training, and interns are first-year residents. Other terms also identify a resident by his or her current year of training. For example, a resident in the first year of training is either "PGY-1", postgraduate year one, or an "R-1", resident year one.
At the end of the first year of residency training, each resident takes the third and final part of the USMLE test. Upon passage of all three parts of the test and completion of adequate time in residency training, the doctor can receive a license to practice medicine. For most states, the minimum required residency training is two years, but a few require completion of just one year of residency training. At the end of their training, residents and fellows also take a national certifying examination administered by their specialty boards to become certified physicians in a particular field or subspecialty.
Continuting Medical Education
Once physicians complete their residency and/or fellowship, they must complete a certain amount of continuing medical education (CME) to maintain their licenses. Similarly, most branches of medicine require certified physicians to undergo recertifying examinations every 10 years. These education requirements ensure that physicians maintain current in their fields.