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MOSCOW — Two second-year University of Idaho medical students from Rupert were among those honored Dec. 14 as future doctors transitioning to the clinical phase of their education. The ceremony for David Griffin and Tyler Wheeler of Rupert was held in Moscow. The class of 40 students in Idaho’s medical school — a partnership with the University of Washington School of Medicine — received white coats to mark completion of the basic science curriculum and the beginning of intense study in clinic and hospital settings.

Wheeler is also one of six Targeted Rural Under-served Track scholars and is slated to serve patients in the greater McCall community.

Idaho is one of five states in the WWAMI program — the acronym representing Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. The students spent 18 months in a classroom-intensive foundations phase of the program. Next, they will review concepts and take their first national board examinations before beginning clerkship rotations at hospitals around the Northwest.

“We are very fortunate to have such a high-quality medical school experience in Idaho,” Jeffrey Seegmiller, director of the Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program, said in a statement. “The transition ceremony represents the successful completion of a very rigorous curriculum, and these students and our state should be very proud of their accomplishment. There is nothing better than seeing a resident of Idaho accomplishing their dreams in a state-supported program — homegrown physicians for Idaho.”

Funding from the state of Idaho has supported medical training at U of I since 1971, with more than half of Idaho WWAMI graduates returning to Idaho after completing medical school. According to a 2016 study, the state sees a $5.10 return on investment for every dollar spent on the medical students.

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