What is WWAMI?
WWAMI is a 30-year partnership between the University of Washington and the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Its mission is to provide opportunities in medical education and research for state residents, and to try to return physicians to those states to practice.
For a resident, WWAMI provides the opportunity to experience practice in a small or mid-sized town without having to join a practice for more than a month. Many of our WWAMI preceptors are former UW residents who did a rotation where they now practice and chose to stay.
Why should I go to a WWAMI site?
Residents who go to WWAMI generally find more autonomy and a larger scope of practice–the latter expanding even further in the more rural sites. Almost everyone finds the education and community experience to be outstanding. The fact that most WWAMI sites are in beautiful places cant hurt. For more on this, read the site pages, the blog, and watch the recording of the talk I give at noon conference about WWAMI.
How many months can I spend at my site?
For now, we’re constrained by RRC requirements that residents not be away from their continuity clinics for more than a month (plus vacation if applicable).
How often can I go to WWAMI sites?
Theoretically you could spend most your elective months at a WWAMI site. The practical constraint is paying your salary–because you’re not at a hospital, you don’t earn your usual stipend, and your salary and benefits are paid directly by the Department of Medicine. We have 48 stipends per year to use for WWAMI, global health, and unfunded research rotations–they all come from the same pool. Practically, this means that if you get more than one of these three per year, you’re quite lucky. On average, 10-20 residents get to do WWAMI months each year.
Uh-oh. I really want to do a research (global health, etc.) block. Are there any WWAMI sites that have their own funding?
Yes! Anchorage, Ketchikan, and Wenatchee have independent funding sources that allow a resident to combine them with research, global health, or another non-hospital rotation. We’re always exploring alternative funding sources, so stay tuned for updates to this list.
You mentioned the department pays the resident’s salary. Who else pays for this?
The sites provide either housing or a stipend for housing. You (the resident) will need to cover costs of licensure if you’re not already licensed in that state, and transportation. The site faculty are not compensated by the residency program–they volunteer their time out of generosity and a love of teaching.
What should I bring with me?
At a minimum, bring the stuff that makes you feel like a doctor: stethoscope, white coat if you wear one, etc. As far as clothing, dress codes tend to be more casual in WWAMI offices, but it’s wise to either check with them beforehand or be prepared to look good. As far as outdoor clothing, remember that most WWAMI sites have colder winters and hotter summers than Seattle, and pack accordingly. It’s also worth looking into outdoor recreation opportunities (hiking, skiing, fishing, etc) and bringing gear if you’ve got it.
Sounds great! How do I make it happen?
At a minimum you need to ask for it when you put in your schedule preferences for next year. Since it can be hard to get both the time you want and the place you want, it helps to specify which is more important to you. I generally recommend that people contact me (Chris Knight) if they have questions or requests for a specific site so I can talk to you about what your learning goals are and try to find a good fit.