UW Medical Education in Spokane
The University of Washington School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership, established in February 2016, is built upon a shared commitment to serving the greater good in healthcare. The partnership aims to expand and enhance top-ranked, cost-effective medical education in Spokane to advance the health of our communities and the vitality of our region.
In 2016 we welcomed our largest-ever incoming class of medical students to Spokane. These 60 students joined 40 second-year medical students for a total of 100 medical students in training on the Gonzaga campus. The UW School of Medicine-GU Regional Health Partnership leverages proven experience, expertise and innovation to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals, and to advance teaching and research. And working closely with the community the partnership will identify opportunities to engage in collaborative solutions that improve eastern Washington’s health and economy.
"Spokane is a great community and excited to have medical students, there are many opportunities to get involved and the administration is open to new ideas and recommendations from students." -UWSOM Student, Spokane
The faculty have a genuine desire to make us into the best doctors we can possibly be. The mentors take a vested interest in not only our successes in class, but also our wellbeing and life balance. -UWSOM Student, Spokane
The Spokane UWSOM faculty are clinicians that have a passion for teaching and engaging the local medical community in the medical education process. They are dedicated to helping students build relationships with local resident physicians, research faculty and clinicians. UWSOM Spokane offers smaller class sizes which allows faculty to get to know each student on an individual basis. Building one-on-one relationships with the students gives the UWSOM Spokane faculty insight into what clerkship opportunities students may want to explore. Students report that the faculty are open to student feedback and welcome opportunities to improve the learning experience. UWSOM Spokane provides an intimate, close knit educational setting that is hard to achieve in a large classroom setting.
UWSOM Spokane partners with all the major hospitals and medical groups in the area, one of which is the second largest hospital in Washington State. These partnerships expose students to learning opportunities traditionally reserved for resident physicians in larger teaching settings and as a result, students receive extensive hands on clinical experience. Spokane hospitals are electronically connected to area clinics allowing UWSOM Spokane students the unique opportunity to track patients through the medical system.
Service Learning Opportunities
Spokane offers a variety of service learning opportunities, like participating in the House of Charity Clinic, diabetes education, UW Med for Ed, Refugee Project, and Health Equity Circle. All of these programs seek to connect medical students with the local Spokane community, from homeless shelters to local schools.
Spokane Foundations Phase
"The highlights of the Spokane experience include small class size, beautiful campus, supportive administration, motivated faculty, excellent involvement with the medical community and opportunities to participate in clinical medicine early on." -UWSOM Student, Spokane
Starting fall of 2016, the UWSOM accepted 20 additional students to spend their Foundations Phase in Spokane (60 students total) to study on the Gonzaga University campus. Many Spokane UWSOM students report that the relatively small class size enables them to quickly get to know their peers and to study and socialize with them. They like the close contact they have with the UWSOM Spokane staff, faculty, and clinical instructors. Students appreciate the one-on-one relationships and weekly visits with their physician preceptors as well as that their schedule includes time for them to volunteer for community service and take advantage of clinical practice opportunities. Spokane’s smaller medical community promotes getting involved.
One of the things I like best about our curriculum is the integration of our basic science classes with clinical experiences. It’s incredibly exciting this early in our education when you learn about something in class one day and get to see and apply it to real patient the next. It makes the material that much more memorable. -UWSOM Student, Spokane
Engaged learning community
"The medical community of Spokane was one of our greatest resources for our first year. There is a wealth of doctors who are great teachers just waiting to share their passion for medicine! I had the opportunity to precept with three different physicians throughout the year. Each were always available and ready to teach. We didn't have the problems often seen in larger medical teaching facilities, like limited time with the attending, competition with the interns and residents etc. It was just me and my doc." -UWSOM Student, Spokane
Spokane hosts 79 resident physicians engaged in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Radiology, Psychiatry and Transitional residencies. Residents are encouraged by faculty to build professional relationships with and support the learning of UWSOM Spokane students. Faculty and resident physicians are dedicated to the educational mission of UWSOM.
"Resident faculty create a supportive and enthusiastic learning environment that attracts residents with a passion for teaching. Residents are dedicated to the UWSOM students." -Dr. Matt Hollon
"I’m from a tiny town, and I did my undergrad in Spokane and had a lot of friends there. I liked the smaller-town feel. It made more sense for me to start medical school with some of my friends around and have a more intimate atmosphere for learning. The medical community in Spokane is incredibly supportive of medical students, and committed to growing medical education in the area. I’m going back there for my last rotation, in emergency medicine." -UWSOM Student, Spokane
Student Life: Lifestyle, public transportation, biking, restaurants
"There are lots of activities such as musicals, symphonies, restaurants, skiing, great walking and biking trails such as the Centennial Trail that is along the Spokane River and a 10 minute walk to school." -UWSOM Student, Spokane
The city of Spokane is very accessible and convenient. You never have to stress about traffic, finding parking, etc. Aside from that, the community is very friendly and embraces the medical students. -UWSOM Student, Spokane
The UWSOM Spokane / Gonzaga Campus is on the Centennial Trail and within walking distance of downtown Spokane entertainment, shopping, restaurants, coffee shops and just a short bike ride to hospitals. Spokane is a family friendly community that welcomes UWSOM students. The organizations below can assist you in relocating.
There is a host of recreational leagues including indoor soccer and basketball as well as, a wealth of outdoor activities like running/hiking in Bowl and Pitcher, Riverside State Park, cycling the Centennial Trail, hiking in Dishman Hills/Iller Creek, skiing at Schweitzer, Silver, 49 North.
You basically have everything you want no matter what your hobbies/pastimes are. And best of all, it’s so cheap!! -UWSOM Student, Spokane
Cost of Living
"Housing was cheap, I saved a ton of money, there wasn't any traffic, my 5 minute commute was a breeze, and parking was great." -UWSOM Student, Spokane
Spokane is a very affordable place to live. Housing, parking, and good quality coffee is affordable, which is all you need!
Rent ranges from $350 to $900, depending on whether you live in a house with roommates or live in a newer 1 bedroom apartment. Newer developments are more expensive than others, such as Kendall Yards and upper South Hill. There are a lot of older apartments on the South Hill, Browne’s Addition, Perry District, and downtown that are very affordable, $500-650 for a 1 bedroom. There are housing options by Gonzaga University, usually for undergraduates. Houses for rent on the South Hill are great for splitting with roommates or for families as well. Some students commute a little farther from North Spokane or Spokane Valley.
(Note: South Hill encompasses the general area south of Sacred Heart Hospital. Perry District is an up and coming area around Perry Street. Browne’s Addition is west of downtown, north of the river. Kendall Yards is a newly developed area just northwest of downtown. Most of these areas are within 10 minutes from campus.)
Apartments and houses can be found on Craigslist 1-3 months before moving in. In addition, some places advertise via signs, so it's a good idea to check out Spokane beforehand if possible.
Many apartments come with parking or offer street parking. Long term parking passes are available for those that live in or close to down town. Metered parking in downtown is only $1.20 per hour. Parking on the Gonzaga campus is less than $100 a year.
The Gonzaga gym is available to students through their UW IMA fee. There are other affordable gyms in the area as well. The MUV fitness gyms offer student discounts for $85 a quarter. Yoga, barre, spin, etc area studios offer student discounts
Spokane University District
Student Support Services
Friends of UW Medicine Spokane information
The Friends of UW Medicine Spokane is a local committee who formed in 2011 to support and encourage medical education in Spokane. The Friends of UW Medicine committee believe in the importance of supporting each and every Spokane medical student, and medical education in the greater Spokane area and Eastern Washington communities.
UWSOM Spokane FAQs
How does it work with the WWAMI-wide curriculum?
All WWAMI sites receive the same curriculum in the same sequence, so that everyone is afforded a "guaranteed curriculum." Curriculum chairs at each site contribute to the content and presentation of material. Websites for each of the WWAMI sites parallel each other, and instructors are given the same slide decks, but the way content is taught by distinct teachers may vary from site to site. Lecture recordings from Seattle are typically posted within 24 hours. A great strength of Spokane is the collaboration between many local universities to procure instructors to teach classes.
Will I have a life outside school?
Every foundations site is different, and your ability to successfully balance school and life is very individual to you. However, Spokane has quite a bit to offer in terms of work-life balance. Because students are located on Gonzaga's campus, they enjoy all the traditional amenities of a university, including gym access and campus activities. Med students frequently plan social events with each other and often become great friends. Spokane also has a rich abundance of student interest groups that grow each year.
Most of the faculty are practicing clinicians. For some of the science material, professors who specialize in the field teach specific content areas.
What is the best way to study?
Students have found a variety of techniques for success, and every individual has a different learning style. It may take you some time to adjust and find the best way to approach medical school for you. Spokane has an excellent academic counseling team to optimize your study habits. A few things can generally be said about studying – scheduling enough time to prepare for class, having a positive and curious attitude when engaging in learning, getting an adequate amount of sleep, exercising, and eating well are all ways that contribute to success and overall health.
What is the schedule like?
In a typical week, about 16-20 hours of class time is scheduled, in lab, lecture, or small groups. Students are expected to come to class having read and familiarized themselves with the content to the best of their ability, and should be prepared to apply their knowledge. This is the "flipped classroom" model. Students also spend 2-8 hours in a clinical setting each week. Many students choose to take electives, engage in student groups, do research, or expand their education in other formats.
What are "Blocks?"
Blocks are periods of time dedicated to particular curriculum – basically the courses students take throughout medical school. Examples include Invaders and Defenders (I&D), where students learn about infectious agents, the human immune system, and ways to prevent, recognize, and treat infectious diseases. Another is Energetics and Homeostasis (E&H), which integrates hormones and the gastrointestinal system.
What type of clinical opportunities will I have at the Spokane campus?
All students are paired with a primary care preceptor for clinical experiences twice monthly. In addition, each student has a scheduled time to take part in hospital patient interviews every other week. These experiences are designed to reinforce the concepts being taught in the current block. As the students further their clinical experiences, students also are given the chance to precept in other specialties as well.
I'm not familiar with Spokane. Do I need a car to navigate the city and meet the clinical requirements?
No. You do not need a car to live in Spokane, but it is recommended. The campus is centrally located, close to hospitals and clinical offices. Required hospital or clinical experiences take into account transportation requirements for those without cars. Many students use the Spokane bus system, live within walking distance, or bike. Spokane is quickly becoming a bike friendly community. However, there are many instances in which having a car is quite convenient, and depending on your interests, some experiences are only reachable by car.
Are there research opportunities for students choosing Spokane as their Foundations site?
Yes, both clinical and bench research opportunities are available and growing in number every year. We are developing a collaboration with the Providence Medical Research Center for direct mentoring and to develop a research curriculum. In the past, students have worked with researchers at Providence, WSU, and in the greater community. If they choose to, students can also arrange research mentoring with investigators at UW Seattle as well as Spokane.
Are there service learning or volunteer opportunities in Spokane?
Yes! There are several volunteer opportunities, and Spokane is recognized as one of the leading sites for service learning. The House of Charity, UW Med for Ed, and Refugee Navigator Project are a few of the current opportunities. Students have the chance to work with several vulnerable communities, including low-income, homeless, and refugee populations in these projects. See the "Service Learning" section on this page for more information.
Can I complete the UWSOM Underserved, Indian, Global, LGBTQ or Native Health Pathways at the Spokane WWAMI site?
Yes. The Pathways are structured so that WWAMI regional students can complete all of the required Pathway modules. Some Pathways are easier to complete in Spokane than others. Electives, outside experiences, and research can all contribute to Pathway completion. Contact the Pathway Director for more information.
I've heard that UW emphasizes primary care. Are there opportunities to explore specialty areas of medicine?
Yes. Spokane has a medical community that is very engaged in education, and many specialists are happy to have UWSOM students shadow or participate in their practice. Primary care is a big part of medical education at UW, but we also offer structured shadowing opportunities in a broad range of specialties during Term 2 and Term 3.
I am interested in Rural Medicine. Is there support in Spokane for students like me?
Yes. As a matter of fact, Spokane is a great location for you to choose as your Foundation site, especially if you are committing to TRUST. What could be more authentic than learning in a smaller community? Additionally, the UW Assistant Clinical Dean for Eastern Washington is based in Spokane and is poised to help students navigate rural clinical opportunities across Eastern Washington and the entire WWAMI region.
Speak to a Student
If you would like to speak to a student who spent their first year in Spokane, we have several students who have volunteered and would be happy to answer your specific questions. Please
contact us and we will put you in touch with them.
Medical students share Spokane life
E15 Student: My favorite thing about Spokane is the incredible rock climbing in this area. There are tons of locations within 30 minutes of Spokane. The climbing community here is full of friendly, encouraging, and inspiring people. Here's a list of good climbing locations:
E15 Student: One of my favorite things about Spokane is how close the mountains are! Mt. Spokane is only about 30-45 minutes away and had a great cross-country skiing area. It was my first time trying cross-country. My arms were very tired the next day, but the views were worth it!
I am a clinical guide for UWSOM Spokane. I am a native Spokanite, and one of our city's greatest assets is the myriad of community events taking place all year round, with minimal cost. The Langlauf cross country ski race on Mt Spokane, fun runs nearly every weekend somewhere in the area, including Boomsday in May; then Hoopfest in June and Spokefest in September. There is also the Lilac Festival and Torchlight Parade, the cherry and apple festivals on Greenbluff (complete with a pit spitting contest!), Pig Out in the Park, Chinese Lantern Festival and the Holiday Light Festival. Community spirit abounds and there is always fun to be had!
E15 Student: Living in Spokane means great riding close to home! Beacon Hill is rideable all year round, and the view bonus in the spring only sweetens the deal. If you love being on your bike, climbing, or getting out on skis or a board, Spokane is close to all this with no traffic!
E15 Student:I love my Perry Street neighborhood. I run with a group called the Lanterneers every Tuesday. The Perry Street Market has delicious fresh produce, baked goods, meat, cheese, salmon, and live music. The Shop is a cute little café/bar with a nice outdoor study area!
Boots is a cute little vegan café downtown. It's a nice place to study or enjoy live music!
There are lots of good places to eat. Central Food has really unique dishes and is right on the Centennial Trail in the Kendall Yards neighborhood with a good view of the river.
Saranac Commons is a nifty study space right on Main Street with a Greek-inspired café, coffee shop, bakery, and brewery-all in one place! They open the garage door when the weather's nice, and occasionally have live music, poetry reading, or paint nightsE16 Student: I enjoy the various and extensive long-distance biking routes around Spokane such as the Centennial trail. It extends into Idaho and connects with other bike trails such as the trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. I'm looking forward to exploring Spokane and Eastern Washington by bike during my time in Spokane.
Students enjoyed climbing at Wild Walls during orientation! http://www.rockwerxclimbing.com/project-portfolio/wild-walls-spokane-wa/
E16 Student: I enjoy the quick access hiking and rock climbing around Spokane. One of my favorite places so far is Rocks of Sharon, which is in the Iller Creek Conservation Area. Rocks of Sharon has incredible views and plenty of climbing routes. I am excited to explore Spokane and the many outdoor activities around here!
Being in a smaller class size is nice because you really get to know your colleagues and instructors. It's easier to do activities with the entire class. A few instructors took us all out for lunch on the last day of school last year. And no one will forget our first weekend: a bunch of the class spent it 'bonding' at a cabin on Lake Coeur d' Alene. Then we capped the year off at a cabin on Deer Lake!
Spokane is convenient. I can leave school at noon, ride my bike on the Centennial Trail from campus to Riverside State Park (pictured), run a few miles in nature, cool off with a swim, and be back to campus refreshed and ready to study by 4 in the afternoon!
I am William Sayres and I am the Assistant Dean. I have lived here for over 25 years and love the variety of distance running Spokane offers. In this picture I ran into a dragon of all things in Riverfront Park. Barely escaped!
E16 Student: We love to represent UW at community events like the Spokane Bubble Run! I love being just 40 minutes from beautiful lake Coeur d' Alene!
We love watching our classmates excel at other hobbies!
E16 Student: I love the small-town friendly feel of Spokane, even though it's a good-sized city. When festivities roll around, everyone gets involved and supports one another. There's a true community spirit! We have some of the largest organized events in the country, including Bloomsday and Hoopfest
E15 Student: I love photography and Spokane has great scenery to capture. I also had a blast at Oktoberfest!
I started throwing pottery on the wheel a couple years ago and wanted to keep at it once I started medical school. I wasn't sure what resources would be available in Spokane but man oh man, let me tell you -- the art culture in Spokane is alive and vibrant! I am doing an apprenticeship with a local potter and regularly go to art shows at the many galleries downtown. If you are an active artist, interested in trying new things, or simply want to appreciate other's work, the options in Spokane are endless! http://experiencespokane.com/clayschool/; http://www.spokanepottersguild.org/
It's fun to get involved in intramurals. Last year, we took the boys basketball title at EWU! Now we are on Gonzaga's campus so we don't have to drive to Cheney which is nice…and I'm sure we will take the league here too!
The snowy winter days are so peaceful and pretty! Last year it stuck around maybe 1 or 2 weeks. The roads are kept pretty clear so driving isn't too bad. Plus that means awesome snowboarding just an hour and a half away!
Terrain is an awesome art and music show that brings out another side of the city. http://terrainspokane.com/
The Beat Connection at the Bartlett. The Bartlett has great musical talent come through. The Knitting Factory also brings in a good variety and the Spokane Arena gets a lot of big name artists!
Being in a small community makes it easy to throw fun activities for students. The faculty are always very supportive of extracurricular events and often connect us with resources.
A night out at the symphony is always a classy, enjoyable time! We get great discounts thanks to the college symphony card! Here we are at Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox: A beautiful art deco theater built in the 1930s. Home of the Spokane Symphony, Spokane String Quarter, and host to many touring artists. Student discounts available. http://www.foxtheaterspokane.com/
We work closely with the other health science programs at EWU and WSU to serve eastern Washington. Every quarter we help throw "Super Science Saturday" where we bus kids in from rural towns as far as 4 hours away and teach them about careers in health care!
The Ridler Piano Bar is always a good time. Dueling pianos and crowd participation make give it a fun, lively vibe with dancing Tuesday – Saturday. http://ridlerpiano.bar/ridler/
Spokane County Medical Society really brings the community of doctors and students together. Here we are on our end of summer cruise sponsored by SCMS.
Music in Spokane
Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox: A beautiful art deco theater built in the 1930s. Home of the Spokane Symphony, Spokane String Quarter, and host to many touring artists. Student discounts available
The Bing Crosby Theatre: A spacious, vintage 800 seat theater that is the host to the Spokane Jazz Orchestra and host to touring artists, comedians, and plays.
The Bartlett: Trendy venue with a 3 dedicated bars, host to local and regional bands. 150 person capacity. Make sure to check out the yearly Bartlett music festival.
Zola: Live local music and dancing 7 nights a week. Low lit, creative décor, and a relaxed vibe. Quality tapas menu and a good happy hour.
The Knitting Factory: 1,500 capacity venue, hosting touring bands with a full liquor bar in the back of the venue.
The Ridler Piano Bar: Dueling pianos and bar. Fun, lively vibe with dancing Tuesday – Saturday.