Medical students study in their home state
You can drive for a long time in Wyoming and see hardly anyone, says Jarod McAteer, M.D. ’09. Juneau, Alaska, says Cassie Iutzi, is accessible only by boat or plane. And KayCee Gardner, who spent some of her early years in a one-room schoolhouse in Montana, went from “having a backyard that stretched for miles” to having a few square feet of grass when she moved to Seattle.
McAteer, Iutzi, Gardner: all are from rural or remote areas, all are transplants to Seattle (albeit temporarily), and all share a special kind of WWAMI experience.
A central characteristic of the WWAMI program is the relationship between the UW School of Medicine and other academic institutions in the five-state region. While some students spend their first two years of medical school at the University of Washington in Seattle, others spend their first year at their WWAMI state university and their second year in Seattle. In their third and fourth years, all students travel to sites throughout the WWAMI region — in Seattle and outside it — to complete medical clerkships: hands-on training with patients, supervised by doctors.
The logic behind this educational plan is simple. WWAMI educators want students from those first-year WWAMI sites to return to their home states to practice medicine. The need for doctors in WWAMI — a largely rural area underserved by medical practitioners — is high. (In fact, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, four out of five WWAMI states have fewer physicians than the national average: 254 doctors for every 100,000 people.)