Federal Grant Opens Door to Medical Residencies in Spokane

By Paige Browning

After local and state agencies worked to create Spokane’s first four-year medical school, the federal government has kicked in a grant to help retain students outside the classroom.
 
The federal Health Resources and Services Administration announced in mid-December it will give $900,000 to a health consortium in Spokane. The money funds six medical residency spots at the WSU Spokane campus, starting this summer. A residency program is the final step in medical school, and Spokane needs more of them according to the consortium Spokane Teaching Health Center.

Myers: “We’re going to have these students that are completing all four years in Spokane, and hopefully falling in love and wanting to stay in Spokane, but if we don’t have any residency spots to keep them in, chances are they are going to a location to do their residencies. And studies have shown where a practicing doctor does their resident program, that’s where they are likely to stay.”

That’s Bryan Myers with the Empire Health Foundation. His group, plus Providence Health Care and WSU Spokane, make up the non-profit who got the grant. Myers says to attract health professionals, the city needs residencies.

Myers: “The rural regions are, and even Spokane itself, is what’s called a health professional shortage area, which means there’s just not enough providers for the need.”
 
The federal grant will fund three residencies for doctors specializing in family medicine, and three to physicians specializing in internal medicine. WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown calls the residencies icing on the cake for the schools mission to serve the underserved. US Senator Maria Cantwell back the funding, too, and cosponsored a bill in November to extend the grant program.
 
Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio
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