20 medical students attending the University of Washington School of Medicine at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA)/the Alaska WWAMI program, have successfully completed the Foundations of Clinical Medicine phase of their training, marking the first milestone on their path to becoming physicians.
In this transitioning class are Mackenzie Holmberg and Daniel Quinlan, second-year medical students from Eagle River. Mackenzie attended Chugiak High School and received a Bachelor of Music from Indiana University. Daniel attended Eagle River High School and received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
During a ceremony this week at UAA, the students were presented with personalized white coats that signal the end to their time studying basic science curriculum, and the beginning of their practical/clinical study in hospitals and clinics. Additionally, Mackenzie Holmberg was presented with the Arthur Schaible Anatomy Award for Excellence in the Human Form and Function block of training, as shown through test scores, dissection, participation in class activities and his exemplary leadership and enthusiastic participation in anatomy and imaging activities. And Daniel Quinlan was awarded a fully-paid first-year fellowship in pathology. This is only the third year it’s been offered to UW School of Medicine students, and the first time it was made available to the entire WWAMI region.
During the first 18-months of medical school – the Foundations Phase – students are learning about the molecular and cellular basis of disease, circulatory systems, anatomy, blood and cancer, and other basic science subjects.
Additionally, through a new curriculum that launched in 2015, each student also spends time in a primary care clinic with a mentor from the very beginning of medical school. After completing Foundations they go on to the clinical phase of their education, completing required and elective clerkship rotations at clinics and hospitals throughout the WWAMI region.
“We are very fortunate to have such a high-quality medical school experience in Alaska,” said Jane Shelby, Ph.D., assistant dean for the Foundations Phase at UAA. “The transition ceremony represents the successful completion of a very rigorous curriculum, and these students and our state should be very proud of their accomplishment. Through this state-supported program, Alaska medical students are given the opportunity to realize their dreams of becoming physicians. This is especially important for rural communities such as Barrow, Chugiak, Kasilof, Kenai and Talkeetna, in dire need of physicians.”
WWAMI is a partnership between the UW School of Medicine and the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, established in the early 1970s to offer residents state-supported medical education with a goal to increase the primary care physician workforce in each of these states. Students attend Foundations classes in their home states at the University of Washington in Seattle, Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, the University of Wyoming in Laramie, the University of Alaska Anchorage, Montana State University in Bozeman, or the University of Idaho in Moscow.
The UW School of Medicine has been ranked as the #1 medical school for primary care education, family medicine and rural medicine training by U.S. News & World Report for more than two decades. WWAMI is heralded as one of the most innovative medical education and training programs in the U.S.