SPOKANE, Wash. – Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine welcomed their first class of students on Wednesday.
The pharmacy school welcomed a 140 students and the medical school welcomed 60 students.
After two years in the works, WSU's school of medicine is off the ground and aiming high. They have brought in students from all over the state in hopes they will continue their medical careers in Washington, more specifically in rural areas and communities with less access to health care.
According to a report from the Washington State Department of Health, nationwide 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas. Only 9 percent of the nation's doctors practice in these areas.
“I came from a rural town South Bend Washington so I'd like to practice in a town similar to where I grew up," said medical student Kyle Geiger. "My dad was a physical therapist in our small town so that triggered my interested in medicine it's been a lifelong dream aspiration of mine."
It is not just an exciting time for students but for faculty as well. State funding for the new program was approved back in 2015. This came after lawmakers allowed WSU to move forward with their plans for a medical school.
Lawmakers put an end to a dispute between WSU and the University of Washington. Before medical education was solely done through the University of Washington, but not anymore.
“It's going to be a great resource for all of us here in Spokane but across the state as we work on solving challenging health care problems," said Dean of Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine John Tomkowiak.
Improving health care in Washington State is a challenge the students are willing to take on.