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February 10, 2015 at 3:15 PM

WSU to lawmakers: medical school won’t face religious limits

Washington State University has offered written assurances to state lawmakers that training at its proposed medical school won’t be limited by partnerships with religiously affiliated hospitals.

Such concerns, raised by Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, had briefly delayed a committee vote on a bill authorizing the medical school. Pollet said he worried WSU’s proposed school model, which will rely heavily on training students in Spokane hospitals, could limit training on women’s reproductive health and end-of-life care.

Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle (THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle (THE SEATTLE TIMES)

WSU has sought to put those fears to rest. In a brief letter to Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, the chief sponsor of the medical school bill, WSU lobbyist Chris Mulick wrote that WSU is “firmly committed” to ensuring its students receive the full range of training. The letter noted such training would be required in any case for the medical school to achieve accreditation.

“While it is certainly possible that certain services will not be performed at certain training sites, WSU would make use of many training sites in order to ensure our students gain the required education and experience required for graduation,” the letter said.

The public assurance satisfied Pollet on the point, as he dropped an amendment to insert the training assurance language in bill authorizing the new WSU medical school.  “It’s what I wanted,” Pollet said.

Nevertheless, Pollet still opposed the bill, casting the lone dissent Tuesday as the House Higher Education Committee passed approved the proposal on a 12-1 vote. Pollet, who’s an instructor at the UW, argued the state should delay the WSU proposal while conducting a comprehensive study of how to best meet the need for better access to health care across the state.

A companion bill also cleared the Senate Higher Ed. Committee Tuesday.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest, State government, State Legislature | Topics: Rep. Gerry Pollet, reproductive health care, WSU Medical School

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