WSU looking for host families in Vancouver for medical students

Six weeklong stays will be spread out over two years

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter

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As Washington State University prepares to welcome its first cohort of medical school students, school administrators are asking Vancouver families to open their homes to aspiring doctors.

The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is looking for host families in Vancouver to house medical students for six weeks spread over the course of two school years.

The program, which starts in students’ third week in school, will put students in the types of communities Dr. John Tomkowiak, the college’s founding dean, hopes they’ll go on to practice in. The school will also offer home stays in Everett and the Tri-Cities, and match students with host families to guide students who stay in Spokane during those weeks. There will be about 15 of the school’s 60 students assigned to each city.

“We want to give them great examples of how communities pull together and deliver great health care even in the case of restrictions,” he said.

Participating families in all four cities are expected to introduce students to five involved community members, as well as organize activities to share the community with students. That can be a meal out, a visit to a local museum or a hike on a local trail, according to the school’s website.

“The home stay program is an opportunity to get them entrenched in those communities literally from week three,” Tomkowiak said.

Locally, students will work at The Vancouver Clinic, Legacy Salmon Creek, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver and PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview. The six weeklong stays will be spread out over two years. In students’ third and fourth years in pursuit of their medical degree, they’ll live and work full time in their assigned communities, though on their own rather than with their host families.

Dr. Alfred Seekamp, The Vancouver Clinic’s chief medical officer, described the clinical experience as an opportunity to learn early on the responsibilities of a physician.

“I think it’s important for them to have some interactions early in their medical training,” he said. “They’re all hungry for that right out of undergrad and coming to medical school.”

Most working doctors had a mentor who helped shape their career, Seekamp said. Offering hands-on training to a new generation of medical students is a way to pay those experiences forward.

“We’re excited about that,” he said. “It’s a great chance to give back.

Interested Vancouver families must live within a 30-minute drive of the WSU Vancouver campus in Salmon Creek. They must provide a private bedroom for the student, access to a kitchen and cookware and internet.

For more information and to sign up to be a host family, visit https://medicine.wsu.edu/community-hosting-and-homestay-program