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April 11, 2014 — Twenty students from across Wyoming are completing their first year of medical studies at the University of Wyoming. They will move in the fall to the University of Washington School of Medicine as part of the WWAMI Medical Education Program.
The students were recognized recently in a white-coat ceremony at UW, marking their advancement to the next stage of training to become physicians. The WWAMI program -- which stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho -- allows Wyoming students to attend UW for the first year of medical school before earning their degrees from the University of Washington School of Medicine.
The students each received a white coat from their preceptors, with whom they’ve worked for the past year. The preceptors, who provide the service to the WWAMI program voluntarily, are local physicians in a wide variety of specialties. Dr. Ken Robertson, who teaches introduction to clinical medicine, stood in for preceptors who weren’t able to attend.
The event was attended by a large crowd of family and friends of the students, along with UW President Dick McGinity, UW College of Health Sciences Dean Joseph Steiner and former UW president Terry Roark, who led the university when Wyoming joined the WWAMI program in 1997.
Since then, 223 Wyoming students have started medical school through WWAMI; 142 have graduated from the University of Washington with medical degrees; 79 have completed residency training and are eligible to practice medicine; and 52 have returned to Wyoming to practice, most in primary care.
Wyoming’s WWAMI students must return to the state to practice medicine for three years after completing residency, or they must repay the state the amount of money expended on their behalf. Wyoming’s rate of 52 of 79 graduates returning to the state to practice -- 66 percent -- is the highest in the WWAMI region.
Speakers at the white-coat ceremony included Steiner; Wyoming WWAMI program Director Tim Robinson: Dr. Larry Kirven, assistant clinical dean, who spoke about the history and symbolism of the white coat in medicine; and the preceptors. Dr. Don Switek, a faculty physician, was recognized for conducting a suture workshop every year to teach the students basic suturing techniques, in addition to his teaching duties.
Here are the students who received their white coats in the ceremony, listed by hometown:
Burlington -- Maria McNiven.
Casper -- Elise Sylar, Hannah Chapman, Sean Bell and Millie Boyd.
Cheyenne -- Marcus Bailey and Kelly Baxter.
Cody -- Benjamin Ross.
Gillette -- Sarah Gregory, Hannah Phillips and Rishi Patel.
Jackson -- Cummings Rork and Kyle James.
Laramie -- Melissa Dozier.
Riverton -- Tyler Baldwin.
Sheridan -- Kymberly May and Craig Luplow.
Thermopolis -- Roberta Enes.
Torrington -- Andrew Fluckiger.
Wheatland -- Arla Mayne Mistica.
University of Wyoming President Dick McGinity (right) speaks with (from left) WWAMI students Sean Bell, Andrew Fluckiger and Cummings Rork during the recent white-coat ceremony marking the advancement of 20 UW medical students. (UW Photo)