Investing in medical education and Spokane’s future


On June 7, Governor Inslee and the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine celebrated with us the 20 extra student slots it will receive as a result of the highly successful legislative budget year.

Not only did the WSU College of Medicine receive funding to continue operation, but I also fought hard to secure funding for an additional 20 medical students to attend Washington State University’s medical school. In total, the WSU Medical School will welcome 80 medical students in fall 2019.

Credit: WSU Health Sciences Spokane

Funding for the medical school did not make the original versions of the operating budget in either the House or Senate proposals. This posed a serious problem for Eastern Washington and our whole state. Since beginning operation, the WSU Medical School has admitted a highly diverse class, exceeding both in first-generation college attendees and female students.

At a time when our rural areas don’t have adequate access to health care professionals, the WSU Medical School produces a high percentage of aspiring MDs who wish to serve the rural and underserved Washington communities they hail from. One hundred percent of the students are from Washington.

Celebrating this hard-fought win alongside Governor Inslee, Senator Billig, Representative Ormsby, WSU, and our community was an honor. As Dean Tomkowiak and I said in our recent op-ed in the Spokesman, a loved one’s chances of surviving cancer or any other serious illness should not be determined by their ZIP code.

That is why we set out to build the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. Its mission is simple: increase access to medical education and health care in rural, underserved communities in Eastern Washington.

You can read more about how investing in Spokane’s medical school will benefit our entire community in the full op-ed here.


HB 1559: How the WSU Medical School was born

Credit: LSS Photography

In 2015, I prime-sponsored and passed House Bill 1559. The bill had great bipartisan support but had to overcome a significant “dance of legislation” to get to the Governor’s desk. The legislation authorized Washington State University to operate a medical school, where an antiquated law from 1917 had previously given the University of Washington a monopoly.

After years of work by so many community leaders, and especially Dr. Floyd, we were able to pick up the legislative baton and pass HB 1559 – a very significant milestone. Bringing a 4-year medical school to Spokane meant more than just creating another option for aspiring physicians.

The WSU medical school has been said to have had the best economic impact on Spokane since Expo ’74. Having banked a lot of our future in Spokane on the healthcare sector, the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine has been a significant down payment for our community’s current and future success.

Shepherding the WSU medical school from an idea to a fully operational medical program enrolling 80 medical students from diverse backgrounds has been a passion of mine for years. It is a shining example of why I love serving this community.

You can read more about HB 1559’s historical journey to becoming law in the articles from The Spokesman below.


Thank you again for your continued engagement and keeping me informed of your ideas and opinions. Your voice is critical to the legislative process and shaping public policy. It is truly an honor to serve as your state representative in the Legislature.

Best regards,

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