President Schulz Celebrates Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at WSUV

To commemorate the newly accredited Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Washington State University Vancouver recently held a celebration in which President Kirk Schulz shared the vision for the school. Attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of what the university plans to accomplish at last Thursday’s event.

The WSU college of medicine received preliminary accreditation in October from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), an accrediting agency for medical schools in the United States and Canada on Oct. 19. The accreditation follows a bill signed 19 months ago by Governor Jay Inslee that enabled Washington State University to offer medical education. This is the second public medical school in the state behind University of Washington’s high-ranking program, and the first to be added in 70 years. This is a “key milestone in the evolution of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine because it’s the milestone that allows us to recruit students for our first class of 2017,” said John Tomkowiak, Dean of the College of Medicine.

The university plans to recruit students who live in or have ties to the state of Washington. They hope to provide education to students who come from diverse backgrounds, and from traditionally underserved areas, including both rural counties and urban centers. Enrollment will open Nov. 1 and close Dec. 1, giving students a small window to apply. Applicants will then move into a secondary application process, including a formal interview.

Most medical schools claim to use a holistic approach in evaluating their applicants but are often focused on high GPAs and MCAT scores. The college of medicine plans to set minimum scores that students need to achieve. They will then proceed to look for students who have demonstrated commitment to a local community in the state of Washington and exhibit strong leadership or team building skills. The application process will also focus on recruiting students who have exhibited characteristics of generosity, agility, and innovation. The interviewing process will consist of multiple conversations with applicants, resulting in a fairer overall appraisal of each student.

WSU is a dispersed institution, as are 40 other medical schools around the country. Therefore, WSU hopes to implement a few things that will set its school apart from the others. Students will be at the Vancouver campus for their entire third and fourth years of study. During their first two years at the medical school, students will spend six one-week segments in the Vancouver community. “What we want them to do is to begin to grow those relationships and those roots right here so they can begin to learn what it’s like to practice healthcare in a community like this,” said Tomkowiak. A billeting program will be implemented in which families can volunteer to host students for their one-week visits.

Another thing that will set the new medical program apart from others will be the leadership skills of its graduates. Tomkowiak explained that the team-based collaborative care model is best achieved when physicians have strong leadership skills. WSU will be the “first medical school that for every student that graduates besides their MD is going to have a certificate in leadership.” The curriculum will consequently require students to take four courses in leadership.

The college of medicine wants its students to be able to work in all kinds of challenging environments. Statistics show that soon, close to a third of all primary care visits may take place over an electronic device. Administrators and applicants both hope that the college’s first class of students will be trained in using “telehelp” or “telepresence” to give effective care for their patients. Joseph Seuferling, a senior majoring in neuroscience said, “I am excited for the emphasis placed on long distance medical care using improved technology, as the modern world today relies heavily on cell phone use.”

In his remarks, Tomkowiak said the college of medicine will also train students in the concepts of personalized medicine, collecting a myriad of data about a single patient as well as population health, and collecting large sets of data about a population to improve overall wellness.

To make this all come together, there are already 19 affiliation agreements with different systems and clinics across the state. Thirty-seven additional affiliations are in process and administrators hope to have twice that number by the time the students start in the fall of next year. There are currently over 100 faculty members ready to serve the college of medicine and 40 more will be hired over the next nine months. In five years, they hope to have 700 clinical faculty spread across the state. The university will also be hiring an associate dean of the medical school specifically for the Vancouver campus.

President Schulz said that he is excited for the new educational opportunity that WSU will be providing. He believes the college of medicine is one of the achievements that will help the university achieve its goal of being one of the top 25 national research universities. Schulz also discussed rebuilding bridges with the University of Washington. He anticipates that after a few years, WSU and UW will have faculty joining on projects. Currently however, the two institutions are still trying to figure out how to establish betters relations.

Skye Troy, ASWSUV President said, “The medical school brings Cougar pride to not only our students but to the entire community. I am excited to see how this medical school will improve WSU and the state of Washington.”

“Overall, I am very impressed with the plans that Dr. Tomkowiak and President Schulz have for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, and I hope to become a student of the first class that will make the vision of the school a reality,” said Seuferling.

For this upcoming year, the class size will be limited to 60 students. After two years, the program will expand to accept 80 students. After another two years, they will evaluate the capacity of the school to further accommodate expansion. Updates on and application information for the new college of medicine can be found at https://medicine.wsu.edu.

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