Warnick bill to support rural dental school signed by governor

Yakima-area program’s faculty recruitment gets a boost

State Sen. Judy Warnick’s legislation, Senate Bill 5113, was signed into law today by the governor during a ceremony at the Capitol. The measure removes regulatory barriers for dental schools, particularly the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, to recruit out-of-state faculty, expanding access to this critical health care service.

Currently, out-of-state faculty members face burdensome licensing requirements when moving to Washington to teach in various medical fields, including dentistry. Under the new law, accredited dental schools can request temporary licensure for faculty members who have accepted employment at the respective school.

“This law will expand access to desperately needed health-care services in rural communities and I’m pleased the governor has signed this bill to help educate more dental professionals,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “Pacific Northwest University can more easily recruit the talent they need to meet the needs of our rural communities and train the next generation of dental professionals.”

Other dental schools in Washington are able to provide similar waivers for prospective faculty under current law. Warnick’s legislation creates parity for this eastern Washington dental program. The temporary licensure will still maintain high standards, requiring approval by the Washington State Dental Quality Assurance Commission.

“This will allow the new school of dental medicine to expand our recruitment efforts to bring in highly qualified faculty to serve rural and underserved residents in our state,” said Fotinos Panagakos, DMD, PhD, founding dean of the School of Dental Medicine at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences. “We are thankful to Senator Warnick for her support and working to get this legislation passed.”

Based in Yakima, PNWU was founded in 2005 and currently serves nearly 600 students. Offering several programs in the health sciences, the university is focused on educating and training health-care professionals to serve rural and underserved communities throughout the Northwest.