In this issue, we celebrate 40 years of WWAMI, our five-state regional medical education program. WWAMI is unique; it is the only public medical school that crosses state lines and, in fact, crosses five state lines. The WWAMI program is characterized by sustained collaboration, partnership and the selfless dedication of countless individuals.
The idea for WWAMI began at a meeting of the Washington State Medical Association, with UW faculty and community physicians problem-solving how to increase the number of generalists for the region. In some of the nation’s most rural states and at a time of severe physician shortage, the task was daunting. Pres Bratrude, M.D., an Omak physician, made history with his offer to work with trainees, “Send them to me; I’ll train them.” This individual commitment expanded into an ambitious multi-state vision and led to an enduring collaboration between academic and community clinicians and researchers, legislators, governors, businesses and communities.
Today there are seven first-year university sites, four MEDEX Northwest physician assistant training sites, hundreds of clinical training sites, special programs like WRITE and R/UOP, and return rates substantially above the national average. Importantly, WWAMI remains a top-quality, cost-effective model of collaboration, partnership and dedication.
WWAMI is a program we can all be proud of — thousands of you have played important roles. Please join me in celebrating this remarkable program. Anniversary events will be held throughout the year and in many locations.
Thank you for your role in making WWAMI and medical education for the region a wonderful success.