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A partnership for the next generation of health care

There’s an air of excitement at Washington State University Spokane—and here in Vancouver, too. This year, WSU inducted its inaugural class at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. We’re teaming up with WSU to help train these students.

This isn’t your typical medical school. The college—made up of four campuses in Spokane, Vancouver, Everett, and the Tri Cities—is a community-based education center that prepares doctors to practice in Washington’s rural and underserved communities. During their first semester, students start training in the places where they are needed most, gaining hands-on experience in existing communities, medical centers, and clinics like The Vancouver Clinic.

“It was a natural fit for us to partner with the college because we share a commitment to giving future health care providers opportunities to learn from experienced doctors and nurses as part of their training,” said Mark Mantei, The Vancouver Clinic CEO. “We have cared for residents of Southwest Washington since 1936. To this day we believe very strongly in the importance of taking an active role in teaching the next generation of health care providers.”

This latest partnership is another demonstration of our longstanding relationship with WSU. For years, we have worked with the university’s nursing school in Vancouver, providing real-world, practical training to future nurses.

Now, we have more than 50 providers, called preceptors, signed up to train the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine students.

“The Vancouver Clinic was front and center. They had the largest number of providers step forward to volunteer and to teach,” Dr. Kevin Murray, associate dean of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine said.

What makes the college unique is the way it recruits and trains its students. Admissions officers seek out students from a wide cross section of rural and urban underserved communities across the state. They also focus on finding students who are current residents of Washington or have strong ties to the state. As a result, 95 percent of the inaugural class are legal Washington residents and 96 percent grew up in medically underserved counties.

The goal is to help fill the need for more doctors in the state of Washington, especially in rural areas. Studies show that doctors are more likely to stay in the areas where they receive their medical education, Dr. Murray said.

The inaugural class is already attracting students who have their sights set on staying close to home.

“The college was a great fit for me because of its focus on primary care education and Washington state,” said Megan Short, a current Elson S. Floyd student and a former patient services representative and advance care planning facilitator here at The Vancouver Clinic. “After finishing school, I plan to return to practice medicine in the Vancouver area where I grew up.”

As for the curriculum, students split their time between classrooms at WSU Spokane and hands-on training with preceptors at local health care facilities. Unlike other medical schools, at Elson S. Floyd, students take part in this hands-on training throughout their four years of study.

At the beginning of the program, preceptors teach students the basics, such as proper sanitation practices, bedside manner, and even appropriate dress codes. It may sound simple, but these skills play a vital role when it comes to treating people from different backgrounds and abilities. As students progress in their studies, their training becomes more advanced.

“We’re very encouraged by the initial responses we’ve gotten from students and preceptors to the teaching style,” said Dr. Murray. “It lets us know that we’ve got a solid foundation to work with as we continue developing this new program over the coming years.”

Creating a cutting-edge approach to physician education is a bold step and Dr. Murray admits that, just like the students, he and the college’s leadership are learning along the way. Here at The Vancouver Clinic, we’re excited to be a part of ushering in a new way of teaching medicine to Washington’s future health care providers.

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