The top Washington news story in the early part of last week was the growing (emerging) battle between the University of Washington and Washington State University over WSU’s proposal to establish its own medical school. And it did seem to be settling into a battle.
The idea has an extravagant ring to it but the bigger-picture justification could be there.
UW’s well-regarded school is hemmed in for growth, limited in its expansion options at a time when projections suggest a need for greater numbers of physicians around the Northwest. The niche would be a med school aimed more strictly at training physicians, leaving most of the advanced research (for which UW is well known) at Seattle. The training element need is becoming clearer with time.
Idaho State University leaders have discussed the idea of a med school there, and although that project may be a heavy lift for the smaller institution and state, it reflects real needs and pressures.
The WSU project may have enough force to carry it at least to early stages of development.
Maybe in part because WSU has developed some broad statewide reach – much broader than UW. In addition to its very substantial mother ship campus at Pullman, it has a large operation at the Tri-Cities, and more operations at Spokane, Vancouver and Everett – really, just about all of the corners of the state except for west off the Puget Sound.
The University of Washington, by contrast, has – despite its overall larger size and very large central campus at Seattle – major outposts only at Tacoma and Bothell, just a few miles away. Its reach is more within a metro area, than it is statewide.
That may not seem to have much to do with whether WSU gets a med school, but it could in terms of generating statewide support for the proposition.
Then, link it – coordinate it – closely with the major UW school (which of course no one would want to see diminished), and the whole could become larger than the pieces.
This doesn't have to be a battle. Shouldn't be.