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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Officials for Washington State University's new medical school in Spokane are working on an aggressive schedule to win accreditation.

The school's new dean told a Washington state Senate panel Thursday that could mean the first class of students will be enrolled for the 2017 school year.

The Spokesman-Review reported Friday that the committee meeting in Olympia was the first chance for most legislators to meet John Tomkowiak, who was named founding dean of the medical school last month.

Members of the Senate Higher Education Committee were told WSU is in a better position than most medical schools when they start up because of facilities on the Spokane campus where nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists and dentists also train, and the university's existing research programs.

Tomkowiak told lawmakers the school is on a fast track, hiring key faculty and forming partnerships with hospitals and clinics in Everett, Vancouver and the Tri-Cities, three other places where WSU has branch campuses, for med students to work while they learn.

He said the goal is for provisional accreditation in 2019 and full accreditation in 2021.

The medical school will have several special focuses in its curriculum, in the hopes of attracting students interested in rural and family medicine, Tomkowiak said.

It will train future doctors in population health, which focuses on large-scale interventions to prevent disease; tele-health, understanding the use and limitations of certain technology in treatments at remote sites; and special skills for rural physicians who sometimes feel they don't have all the tools that are available in larger cities, feel isolated and become dissatisfied.

Currently, the University of Washington in Seattle has the only public medical school in the state, and also provides medical training for residents of Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com

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