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RISE’s Wy’East Pathway Program

Wy’east is the traditional Multnomah name for Mount Hood, a prominent feature of the Columbia River region. The Wy’east post-bac pathway is a component of the RISE program, built on the early success of Oregon Health & Science University’s 10-month program that offers citizens of federally recognized tribes a pathway to improve their academic skills and be successful in the medical school admissions process.

This past summer, Wy’east was expanded to the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, when the college selected two AI/AN aspiring physicians to attend. The college will continue to pick up to four students per year, over four years, to this program with the hope of having them matriculate to the WSU College of Medicine upon completion.

There are three major components to the pathway:

  • Academic preparation for medical school (including MCAT prep course)
  • Professional preparation for the rigor of medical school
  • Culturally-relevant experiential learning

Perspectives from Students

Alexandra JonesAlexandra Jones, WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Candidate
My name is Alexandra Jones. I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and want to return to practice family medicine or pediatrics in the Pacific Northwest. I am an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

I have known for a long time that I wanted to work in health care determined that being a physician would be the best way for me to use my talents to give back to the communities that gave so much to me. I did my undergraduate education at Brigham Young University in Microbiology and Spanish.

During my time in Utah, I participated in a molecular biology lab researching a novel antibiotic. I also worked for a year as a cardiology scribe. I am currently in the Wy’east Post-baccalaureate Pathway with the opportunity to attend WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in 2021.

WSU ESFCOM’s focus on educating Washingtonian physicians to serve WA’s underserved and rural communities aligns with my personal goals as a future doctor, and I am excited to work with the wonderful faculty and staff in Spokane.

Mary BrewerMary Brewer, WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Candidate
My name is Mary Brewer. I grew up in Tacoma and I aspire to be a physician who provides care to minority populations and the underserved in Washington state. I am an enrolled member of the Nooksack Indian Tribe of Washington.

My path thus far includes an undergraduate degree in cell and molecular biology from the University of Washington, several years working for the Department of Veterans Affairs working with injured and disabled veterans, job shadowing at the Seattle Indian Health Board and with Dr. Frank James in Bellingham. I was also fortunate to participate this summer in the RISE program. I am currently in the Wy’east Post-baccalaureate Pathway with the opportunity to attend WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in 2021.

I like WSU’s mission to serve the underserved in Washington state. I also like their community-based model and the fact they have training opportunities throughout the state of Washington. Five years from now, I truly believe I’ll be in my residency program, learning as much as I can to better help my community.

Perspectives from a Wy’East Organizer

Leila HarrisonLeila Harrison, WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs
Wy’east has allowed us to reach those American Indian Alaska Native candidates who have attempted getting into medical school but not been successful. We have the opportunity to reach these aspiring doctors, provide curriculum through the OHSU Wy’east post-baccalaureate program, provide them with MCAT test preparation, mentoring, and support as they go through the 10-month program. Many of these aspects, if not all, would have otherwise been unavailable to the Wy’east Scholars. Our Wy’east Scholars are often non-traditional applicants to medical school; often they have their own families, have been in the workforce, and have not had traditional guidance to pursue medicine. They are determined, resilient, and compassionate—characteristics we would hope to see in future physicians serving Washingtonians.

Wy’east aligns with our Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine mission, vision, and goals which is to serve Washingtonians from across the state by providing opportunities for future physicians who will help us solve challenging health care problems in our diverse Washington communities. Wy’east Scholars come from these diverse communities and with their conditional acceptance to our medical school, they will bring insights and gifts that enable us to be thoughtful and intentional about serving their own communities. All of our communities, including our Native American communities, deserve compassionate, culturally competent, and high-quality care. Our Wy’east Scholars who eventually matriculate into our medical school will help us provide that care that their families deserve.