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Our members know their states! This week we hear from our Washington member, Jawana Akuffo, about what she knows and loves about her state!

Name: Jawana Akuffo

City, State: Olympia, Washington

Organization: Washington State Department of Health

Why do you choose to live in Washington? People just love it here. It’s a great place for camping and hiking, excellent schools, nice place to raise a family, culture is rich and diverse in many pockets throughout the state. 

What are the best cultural events that happen in Washington? There are many! A few popular ones include: Seattle International Film Festival, Sea-fair, Makah Days, Ellensburg Rodeo, Kitsap Harbor Festival, Spokane boat show, Freedom Fest, Washington State Kite Festival, Tacoma Ethnic Fest, and the Washington State Fair.

Why should a health professional choose Washington over surrounding states? There are a lot of internationally known physicians and institutions, including the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, affiliated with the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital. There is a high standard of continuing medical education (CME) in Washington. There is a diverse patient population everywhere. Washington state has an interesting mix of different racial and ethnic groups. Hiking, mountains, easy beach access, neat past times like kites, surfing and fishing are a big advantage to living in certain areas. 

What loan repayment programs does Washington have? Anything that makes those programs unique? The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has recently awarded a four-year, $4 million grant to Washington State to repay the student loans of health professionals serving in high-need areas.

Two programs provide educational loan repayment assistance: 1) The Federal-State Loan Repayment Program (FSLRP) 2) The Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP) 

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in Washington? The goal of the program is to increase the number of physicians available to work in rural and underserved areas of the state. The program is considered a secondary tool in recruitment, used when efforts to recruit a U.S. trained physician have been unsuccessful for an extended period of time.

What sports teams does Washington have? Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Sounders Seattle Storm, Tacoma Rainiers, Spokane Indians, Huskies… many!

What is your favorite local food? Washington State is known for its fresh coastal seafood, eastern vineyards and, of course, plentiful coffee shops. Washington also has a diverse community of farmers and foragers that grow and harvest ingredients like lavender, asparagus, mushrooms and pleated barley. Favorite local eateries include: Beecher’s Mac & Cheese, Flying Fish from Pike’s Place Market, Dicks’ Burgers, and Freckles Gourmet BBQ located in north east Washington, one of our frontier locations.

What is Washington best known for? Washington is the only state named for a president. It was nicknamed “The Evergreen State” by C.T. Conover, pioneer Seattle realtor and historian, for its abundant evergreen forests.  Many Native American tribes lived in the Washington region. Washington is home to Boeing, the world's largest aircraft maker. Washington is also home to the Microsoft Corporation; Amazon; and Starbucks, the biggest coffee chain in the world was founded in Seattle. 

Washington is number one in the country in the production of apples! The forests of the Olympic Peninsula are among the rainiest places in the world and the only rainforests in the continental United States. The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest dam in the United States. The state of Washington is one of only seven states that does not levy a personal income tax.

What is the biggest misconception about Washington? That it rains all the time. But, it’s sunny most of the time in Eastern Washington!

What are the biggest industries in Washington?

  • Aerospace
  • Agriculture and Food Manufacturing
  • Clean Technology
  • Forest Products
  • Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Life Science/Global Health
  • Maritime
  • Military and Defense

How is the weather/climate in Washington? Moderate most of the time. Washington State's weather varies greatly from west to east, as the west is normally mild and humid, while east of the Cascades a cooler, drier climate prevails. The average annual temperature ranges from near 51 degrees along the Pacific Ocean coastline, to near 40 degrees in the far northeast.

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