Alaska's Medical School ranks No. 1 among primary-care medical schools for 17th straight year

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

The WWAMI medical school partnership has again been ranked first among primary care medical schools in the country, according to annual rankings of graduate and professional schools provided by U.S. News & World Report. For the 19th consecutive year, the programs in family medicine and in rural health also ranked No. 1. Alaska, through the University of Alaska Anchorage, is one of five states involved in this unique, collaborative medical school that is administratively centered at the University of Washington in Seattle.

WWAMI, an acronym for the participating states, serves as a medical school for the states of Wyoming, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. The school has teaching sites for medical students in more than 100 towns and cities across the five-state region. Five state universities, and more than 4,500 volunteer physicians and other clinicians in the region, join in educating and training WWAMI medical students.  Alaskans can complete three of the four years of medical school in Alaska through WWAMI.

"Alaska's medical students have a tremendous opportunity in the WWAMI program.  WWAMI is a true collaboration involving faculty at six universities in five states who work together to devise, plan and deliver top quality medical education. They function as a unit to execute the innovative curriculum that leads to WWAMI's outstanding reputation in teaching primary care, family medicine, rural health and other specialties that are so much in demand in the region," said Dr. Dennis P. Valenzeno, Director of Alaska WWAMI and Associate Dean for Medical and Premedical Programs at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Health care reform at the national level has focused renewed interest on medical education to provide an expanded physician workforce needed as a result of expanded health care coverage.  UAA hosted discussions on this challenge on March 27 at Alaska's 5th Annual PreMed Summit attended by more than 250 participants interested in careers as physicians, an event hosted at UAA with participants by interactive video in Fairbanks, Juneau, Kodiak and Ketchikan.

"Since 1971 Alaska has been fortunate to have a very productive relationship with one of the best medical schools in the country. The long-standing interest, support, and excellence in primary care has served us well," says Dr. Tom Nighswander, prominent Anchorage physician who is the Clinical Coordinator and Assistant Dean for Alaska WWAMI.

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