Dr. Keith Watson says that Washington needs more primary care physicians, and existing medical schools cannot turn them out fast enough.

Both the state House and Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that paves the way for a Washington State University medical school to be established in Spokane, despite not providing a funding mechanism for such an institution.

Under a 1917 law, the University of Washington in Seattle has the exclusive right to operate a public medical school in the state of Washington.

Watson, president of the privately operated Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima says he would welcome a new medical school.

Watson said that the existing schools  “simply cannot produce enough primary care physicians to both alleviate the existing shortages and replace those physicians retiring from practice in the coming years.”

Approximately 9,000 physicians in Washington are age 60 or older, many reaching the age of retirement.

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