WWAMI Program History and Philosophy

The WAMI program started in 1971, with Wyoming joining in 1996 to form the acronym WWAMI. WWAMI was founded with five goals: 1) provide publically supported medical education; 2) increase the number of primary-care physicians and correct the maldistribution of physicians; 3) provide community-based medical education; 4) expand graduate medical education (residency training) and continuing medical education; and 5) provide all of these in a cost-effective manner. Those goals—with many successes—remain in place today.
Montana E2012 Class
Montana E2012 Class

WWAMI is recognized nationally and internationally as a model program for training physicians and other health professionals for rural areas. The program has set the standard for decentralized medical education. In 2002, the WWAMI program was recognized by the Association of American Medical Colleges with the Outstanding Community Service Award, given annually to just one medical school in the nation.

Positive Results

The University of Washington School of Medicine has been identified as the nation’s top primary-care school in each of the last 18 years by U.S. News & World Report as well as the top medical school in the nation in family medicine and rural medicine training for the past 20 years. 

Most important, outcomes indicate that WWAMI works. Over the past 30 years, over 60 percent of graduating students have chosen to remain within the five-state area to practice. Over the course of the past 20 years, very close to 50 percent of graduating students have chosen to pursue careers in primary care. This is particularly important since more than one-third of the population in the WWAMI region lives in rural, largely underserved areas. Upon graduation from graduate medical education, an estimated 20 percent of WWAMI graduates will practice in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).

Looking Ahead

We are proud of the WWAMI program and its successes for the five-state region. We look forward to providing high-quality, cost-effective training - created and implemented by our community members, physicians, universities, business communities, legislatures – and making our region a better, healthier place.