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Regional Voices: Darryl Potyk – University of Washington-Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership

Regional Voices: Darryl Potyk – University of Washington-Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership

Dr. Darryl Potyk is in charge of medical education at the University of Washington-Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership, and is a clinical professor at the UW School of Medicine (UWSOM).

What brought him to Spokane: I moved here from Southern California in 1994 because of Spokane’s great medical community, and an opportunity to be involved in medical education full time. Medical education here has really grown and evolved in the last couple of years, but many people don’t realize it’s been going on in our community for a long time.

Prior to assuming leadership of the UWSOM-GU Regional Health Partnership’s program in mid-February: I had been involved in medical education in Spokane for the past 23 years in a variety of different roles, including residency program director and chair of the medicine department at both major hospitals. My role with UWSOM’s Spokane program increased in 2013 when I became the assistant clinical dean.

Ways the program has changed: When I started, there were 20 first-year students here, and they all went to Seattle for their second year. Now we have 60 first-year students and 40 second-year students, along with 30 students who do their entire third and fourth years here. We plan to continue expanding.

The next phase: The University of Washington’s partnership with Gonzaga University will be transformative. Combining our experience and expertise is already helping us better educate the next generation of healthcare professionals and address the workforce shortage in Eastern Washington.  While many of our doctors come here from other states, we need to train our own. Students often stay where they train, so greater exposure to Eastern Washington will help reduce the shortage. We are asking the Legislature to fund an additional 20 students over the next biennium, which would benefit the community in many ways.

Broader impact: Our work with Gonzaga University will serve as a springboard for many collaborations – various offshoots and related businesses that enhance medical education.  We are truly on the cusp of something great that will impact social and economic aspects of our region!

Career opportunities: In addition to medical education, the University of Washington also is engaged in dental education through RIDE (Rural Initiatives for Dental Education), and the MEDEX program, which trains physician assistants. As medical education grows, so will opportunities in nursing, radiology tech, OR tech, and physical/occupational/speech therapy.

Ways Spokane has changed since 1994: We’ve become more sophisticated without losing our small-town benefits. Spokane is growing, and our healthcare community is at the center of the next big thing.

Looking ahead: Spokane has so much going for it, it needs to take pride, build on its strengths and avoid comparing itself to other communities.

Perks of living here: I consider it a privilege to work for a leading medical school in such a supportive environment.  And I appreciate the abundant ways my family and I can enjoy the outdoors: cross-country skiing at Mount Spokane in the winter; biking, boating and paddle boarding in the summer.  Combine that with short commutes and a friendly community – I couldn’t ask for more!

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