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Making Changes Families Can Count On: Governor Gregoire Invests to Increase Rural Access to Qualified Medical Professionals

For Immediate Release: December 14, 2006

SPOKANE – Governor Chris Gregoire today at Washington State University Spokane announced she will invest in the creation and expansion of rural education networks, such as WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) and RIDE (Regional Initiatives in Dental Education) so all Washingtonians are able to access high-quality health care.

Governor Gregoire’s proposal will create for the first time a dental education network at WSU Spokane. RIDE will address the need for more qualified dentists in rural areas. She is expanding the nursing program at WSU Spokane to have a Ph.D. program and to increase the number of students in the program and she is expanding the WWAMI program to include a site at WSU Spokane.

“The WWAMI program has been a great success in Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho in training doctors to serve in the rural communities where they are desperately needed,” said Governor Gregoire. “The program has a 35-year track record of training students to practice in underserved areas of the state and, under my proposal we will bring this successful program to more Washington students.”

Governor Gregoire will build on the WWAMI model and expand the WSU Nursing School in Spokane as well as the UW Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. This will fill a critical need for qualified practitioners in rural areas of the state not served by a medical school.

Governor Gregoire will meet needs in rural Washington communities by:

  • Expanding the WWAMI rural education network to help address the shortage of physicians in areas of Washington not served by a medical school;
  • Establishing the Regional Initiative in Dental Education (RIDE) at WSU Spokane’s Riverpoint campus to address the need for qualified dentists, especially in rural areas;
  • Expanding the WSU Spokane Intercollegiate College of Nursing to include a Ph.D. program and to increase the number of students in the program;
  • Freezing tuition at community and technical colleges for the next two years and limiting annual tuition increases to make college more affordable and accessible; and
  • Providing thousands of new high-demand enrollment spaces in colleges and universities, and Regional Opportunity Grants for job training for local employment in order to address regional workforce needs.

“We will have creative and collaborative programs in place dedicated to bringing doctors, nurses and dentists to our state’s rural communities,” said Governor Gregoire. “These are cost-effective, common sense ways to address significant shortages of doctors, dentists and nurses.”

Governor Gregoire has worked to increase access to quality, affordable health care since the day she took office. She established a purchasing process to buy health care shown to work, based on evidence. She limited the inappropriate use of prescription drugs in Medicaid, identified unnecessary health care practices and worked to advance the use of information technology in health care delivery and purchasing.