Regents approve doctoral degree for College of Medicine

CODY COTTIER, Evergreen reporter

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The WSU Board of Regents approved a doctor of medicine degree for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, which is set to enroll its first class of about 60 students in the fall.

The degree is one of the final steps in a years-long project that aims to provide opportunities for students who cannot get into Washington’s other medical schools, as well as to boost the number of physicians practicing in underserved communities across the state.

Requirements for the degree include six medical science courses, several rotations and clerkships, and 12 one-credit medical leadership courses. Students must also pass three national licensing exams, complete a scholarly project and meet the college’s professionalism standards, according to regents meeting documents.

The curriculum is structured for four-year completion, though students may potentially remain in good standing for up to six years, according to the documents. The Faculty Senate is currently reviewing the degree and its curriculum.

The college received accreditation and began recruiting earlier this semester. Administrative Manager Kim Noe said they received more than 700 applications from students around the state. After interviewing about 330, they gave offers to the charter class, which is now going through the admission process.

Daniel Teraguchi, associate dean for Student Affairs, said they are working to help the incoming students make the transition to medical school. Though many may have excelled in other settings, he said they must be able to adjust and thrive in all contexts, such as learning in a clinical setting.

“It’s our responsibility to set up an environment of success,” he said.

Additionally, as the first class, the students will not have experienced upperclassmen to serve as mentors. All students in a medical class take the same courses together in their first two years, so they often collaborate during this time.

“That creates a much better study group,” Teraguchi said.

In addition, the class has already begun to use Slack, a communication management system, to discuss and learn about things like regional housing and parking. They also have Slack channels dedicated to their interests, such as different kinds of medicine and local recreation.

Teraguchi said that Kenneth Roberts, vice dean for academic and community partnerships, is working to connect the college with clinics and hospitals that span the state’s biggest population pockets, from Vancouver and Everett to Tri-Cities and Spokane.

“There’s no place that isn’t connected,” Teraguchi said.

Their focus is on communities that lack sufficient medical personnel, and they want to increase the odds that students will remain in those areas after they finish their training.

The regents also approved proposals to establish a doctoral degree in statistical science, a master’s degree in athletic training and a Bachelor of Science degree in sports medicine. They also approved changing the Master of Arts degree in apparel merchandising and textiles to a Master of Science degree.