2013 is the first year in WWAMI's 42 year history in Montana that there are 30 students in the class!
Throughout WWAMI's history, thousands of participants have partnered to advance regional excellence in medical education and to meet physician workforce needs in the Northwest. The University of Washington started WWAMI in 1971 to help the Northwest states that were struggling with insufficient healthcare resources and physician training opportunities.
The program was founded with six goals for the region:
- provide publically supported medical education
- increase the number of primary care physicians
- provide community-based medical education
- address the maldistribution of physicians
- increase graduate medical education (GME) and continuing medical education (CME)
- do all of these in a cost-effective manner.
In 2011, WWAMI is recognized nationally as a model program for training physicians and other health professionals for rural areas. A Lancet commentary called the WWAMI program "perhaps the best academic model" of a multi-faceted approach to recruitment and retention of physicians in underserved communities. Team members from the 2002 Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accreditation site visit to the University of Washington called WWAMI a "benchmark" program that provides a unique learning experience for students. Also in 2002, the WWAMI program received the Association of American Medical College's Outstanding Community Service Award, given annually to just one medical school in the nation.
First-year students at WWAMI sites rave about the outstanding classroom teaching they receive at their home state university, with small student-to-teacher ratios. WWAMI clinical training for third- and fourth-year medical students has grown tremendously, there are more than 165 teaching sites across the region. UW residency training programs have WWAMI regional sites in internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics & gynecology, and anesthesia. The UW Family Medicine Residency Network has 18 programs across the five-state region. The result is dramatic. More than 50 percent of WWAMI graduates become primary-care physicians -- higher than the national average -- and many choose to practice in rural areas.
WWAMI remains dedicated to training physicians for rural areas and will continue to improve and innovate to meet the changing needs of communities across the five-state region. WWAMI's future is very bright. WWAMI is deeply committed to the success of our five-state medical school. Thank you for your part in making WWAMI a success.