MISSOULA – The University of Montana Family Medicine Residency Program graduated 12 new doctors to practice in rural and underserved communities on Sunday.
Most counties in the Treasure State are underserved with 11 counties lacking a physician, so it’s increasingly important to keep doctors that graduate from Montana colleges here in the state.
The dozen graduates have worked very hard for the last three years in order to graduate, taking part in a residency program that was originally started in 2013 in order to address a staggering healthcare shortage.
This year 11 of the 12 doctors are staying in state, with eight of them practicing in underserved and rural areas. One of the new family physicians told MTN News that he’s excited to practice with a purpose.
"It’s a really fun place to be. So being able to do family practice — full spectrum family practice — in a community is a really rewarding experience. You get to know people both inside and out of the clinic," Tyler Thorson said. "You get to be more than just this kind [of] suitcase doctor like an urban center, you actually get to be part of the community.
"I just like people to know that this training program exists, that in Missoula and Kalispell — and 10 affiliated rural communities — we are regularly educating young family doctors, and I think it’ll go a long way towards satisfying the healthcare needs of this state," family Medicine residency director of Western Montana Program director Ned Vasquez said.
He added that over all of the five programs they’ve had since 2013 some 73% of graduates have stayed and practiced right here in Montana.