A Setting for Excellence
UW School of Medicine, the nation’s top-ranked medical school for primary care education, partners to improve the region’s health with Gonzaga University, home to one of the nation’s top-ranked NCAA Basketball teams—they also share a family connection.
UW School of Medicine, the nation’s top-ranked medical school for primary care education, partners to improve the region’s health with Gonzaga University, home to one of the nation’s top-ranked NCAA Basketball teams—they also share a family connection
As part of President Thayne McCulloh’s cabinet, retiring Gonzaga University athletic director Mike Roth watched the partnership between his university and the University of Washington School of Medicine unfold.
“It’s been so exciting,” he said. “I knew it would be a boon to GU, attracting undergrad students who might be interested in medicine. For science majors considering GU, the partnership with UW is the icing on the cake.”
Adding to the excitement was the fact that his son, Brad, a GU grad, was a member of the first class of the University of Washington School of Medicine – Gonzaga University Health Partnership.
The Roths are familiar with the rigors of medical education.
“Medicine runs deep in our family,” said Mike.
His father is a retired eye surgeon, his younger brother is an eye surgeon, and his son Matt is a physical therapist. So, Roth wasn’t at all surprised when his older son, Brad, set his sights on medical school.
“Medicine has always been on his radar,” he said.
As a kid, Brad often dressed up as a doctor for Halloween, and by the time he was in high school, he’d found his passion.
“What I love about medicine is it’s the intersection between science and connection with people,” said Brad.
He also knew which medical school he wanted to attend.
“UW was my top choice.”
The connection between a top-ranked medical school and a championship basketball program hit home when he got the call notifying him of his acceptance to UW School of Medicine.
“I got the call during the WCC Championship game.”
Brad was delighted to be part of the inaugural UW-GU Health Partnership class.
“I was excited to come back as a medical student in a new program,” said Brad. “I felt like we had a true home, and GU was happy to welcome us.”
Though they didn’t see much of each other on campus, his dad was happy to have him nearby.
“Brad became the go-to guy for the other med students because he grew up on campus,” said Mike.
Currently, Brad is in his second year of the family medicine residency program at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Family medicine offers the personal connection he finds vital.
“I truly enjoy hearing my patients’ stories. It’s a tremendous privilege to care for people at all ages and stages,” Brad said. “Connecting with people is life-giving to me.”
Unsurprisingly, father and son see several parallels between UW School of Medicine and Gonzaga’s athletic programs.
“In medicine, we function as a team, just like in athletics,” Brad said.
An obvious connection between the two sits not far behind the bench at Zags’ basketball games.
Molly Gilbert, M.D., is a UWSOM Spokane faculty member and also serves as lead team physician for Gonzaga’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“Having the medical school here just reinforces our athletic partnership with Dr. Gilbert,” said Mike.
And he knows firsthand the institutional benefits of a top-ranked program.
“The better you are, the better talent you attract, whether it’s sports or medicine,” he said. “For example, in this year’s freshman class we have the #1 and #5 recruits in the nation coming to play basketball at GU.”
He believes UWSOM’s ranking as the #1 medical school for primary care education will accelerate the attraction of the best and the brightest medical students to the university.
Brad said both medicine and athletics require tremendous discipline.
“You have to be internally motivated and focused,” Brad added.
“To be excellent in athletics or medicine requires an intense amount of commitment,” he said.
Though he’s retiring, Mike remains excited by the continued progress of the Partnership.
“The new building is another huge piece,” he said, referring to the UW School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Health Partnership’s medical and health education, research and innovation center, scheduled for completion in June 2022.
“The medical school here on campus is part of our identity,” said Mike. “In my opinion, it was a game-changer for us institutionally.”
Of course, nothing would make him happier than having Brad return to Spokane to practice medicine.
“It would be great to have him back helping the greater Spokane medical community,” he said.
Brad hopes that will happen.
“I’m sure I’ll find my way back,” he said. “Spokane is home.”
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