A new family-medicine residency program in western Montana aims to develop and keep a next generation of family physicians in the state.
Dr. Justin Buls is the Kalispell Site Director for the new Family Medicine Residency for Western Montana. This new program is a partnership between the University of Montana, two Missoula hospitals, Missoula’s Partnership Community Health Center, Kalispell Regional Medical Center, and the Flathead Community Health Center.
Buls said Montana ranks last in the country in graduating residents and training physicians.
“We have a significant number of physicians that are over the age of 60 and looking towards retirement soon, and, unfortunately, we are not graduating residents at a rate to keep up with that,” Buls said.
Billings’ Montana Family Medicine Residency started in the late 1990’s in partnership with the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. The Billings program has found that 70-percent of the residents stay and practice in the state. Billings Clinic just started an Internal Medicine Residency with 12 residents this month.
The Western Montana program has 10-residents total. They have their first year in Missoula before finishing their second and third years in Kalispell. Dr. TJ Sherry is part of this first class of residents, and hails originally from Frenchtown.
“Just wanted to get back home to western Montana. When I interviewed here, I really liked the dynamic staff, I liked the fact that it was going to take place mostly just at one hospital, and I was really taken in with the physicians at Kalispell Regional Medical Center,” Sherry said.
There are three Kalispell residents, and more than 30-local physicians signed on to act as mentors.
Kalispell Regional Medical Center said the program received accreditation in 2012 and the 10 residents were chosen out of 110 applicants for the first class.