UW says WSU med-school study is deeply flawed
A statement from the UW says the feasibility study contains “faulty assumptions, omissions and erroneous data” that “raise significant concerns about the actual feasibility of a WSU medical school.” But WSU officials stand by the results.
The Associated Press
SPOKANE —The University of Washington on Monday criticized a study that supports the creation of a new medical school in Spokane by rival Washington State University, calling the analysis deeply flawed.
A statement from the UW said the study, released last week, contained “faulty assumptions, omissions and erroneous data.”
“These flaws raise significant concerns about the actual feasibility of a WSU medical school,” the UW statement said.
WSU officials stood by the results of the feasibility study. They contend a big shortage of doctors outside the Seattle metropolitan area justifies creation of a public medical school in Spokane.
The Legislature would have to provide funding for the project, which would likely compete with a multistate program, run by the UW, which is called WWAMI for the five states that are part of it: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.
The UW complained in particular that the study, done by MGT of America, assumed the redirection of funds from WWAMI to the new WSU medical school.
“You can’t spend the same public dollars twice,” the UW said.
The MGT study also estimated medical tuition costs in the WWAMI program at $214,000 per year, when the actual cost is around $70,000 a year, the UW said. That is less than the estimated $98,000 in tuition for a WSU medical school, the UW said.
The UW also noted that it is a pioneer in community-based medical education and is working to increase the number of doctors in rural areas of Eastern Washington.
The UW said the WWAMI program can be quickly expanded with more money from the Legislature, while a new medical school would take longer to get off the ground.
Myra Hunt, an administrator at the Florida State University College of Medicine and consultant to MGT on this study, said she remains confident in the conclusions.
“The bottom line from my point of view is regardless of everything, they are admitting 120 Washington residents a year,” Hunt said of the UW medical school. “The state of Washington is in dire need of health-care professionals.”
WSU’s board of regents on Friday unanimously approved the effort to start a new medical school.
While approving WSU President Elson Floyd’s pursuit of the independent medical school, the regents said the university should continue its partnership with the WWAMI program.
The board’s approval came a day after a consulting firm said WSU is “well-positioned” to start a medical school.
The feasibility study released Thursday said WSU already has significant assets and long experience training medical students because of its health-sciences campus in Spokane and its participation in the WWAMI program.
A medical school in Spokane could double the number of in-state students graduating from medical schools during the next decade, with no capital expenditure, the study found.
Preliminary accreditation could be earned in early 2016, according to the study, with the initial class beginning in fall 2017. It would cost $1 million to $3 million per year in state funds during the next few years to start the school. Funding needs would increase gradually, up to $47 million annually when the school reaches a projected enrollment of 480 students in 2024-25.
UW offers 120 medical-school slots each year to in-state students. But other states with populations the size of Washington’s typically offer more than 400 slots in medical schools per year, the study said.