GREAT FALLS — The proposed Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine took a big step closer to reality on Wednesday with a ground-breaking ceremony near the corner of 26th Street South and 18th Avenue, close to Benefis Health and Great Falls Central Catholic High School.
A large crowd gathered to hear representatives from Touro, Benefis, and the City of Great Falls talk about the motivation and need for and impact of a medical college in Great Falls.
"Our presence here in this beautiful state and in this wonderful city of Great Falls speaks to our institutional vision of bringing exceptional educational opportunities to areas where they are needed and to the people who will truly benefit from our expertise,” said Rabbi Moshe Krupka, Touro College’s executive vice-president.
"We're celebrating a partnership that we think is going to mean great things for the town, for the state, for the hospital systems here and very much so for Touro,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, Touro College president.
"Their mission and vision was such a nice fit with what we really want to do with this school,” said Benefis CEO John Goodnow.
"We've said a lot of thank you's today, and those are well spent, but what I want the Touro team to know is that this community is ready to embrace not only the next couple years of getting this building in the ground and accredited and starting to have students come in but we're here to welcome the people that you bring to us,” said Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelly.
Goodnow said he contacted Touro to discuss the idea of opening an osteopathic school of medicine in Great Falls. "What happens in osteopathic schools is you tend to graduate a far higher percentage of primary care physicians and those physicians tend to work in smaller communities and rural areas,” Goodnow explained.
Kadish said Touro plans to give preference to Montana residents but does not have a quota on how many in-state vs. out-of-state students it will accept. “With our [osteopathic] model and increased primary care residencies, we believe that we will encourage students to enter primary care and remain in the state,” Kadish said.
Touro said in July 2021 that it plans to accept 125 students each year and to educate them with affiliates in Montana as well as sending some students out of state for their clerkships and rotations, according to Dr. Alan Kadish, president of the Touro College and University System.
Kadish said classes could start in less than three years. "We're hoping to begin building in the next few weeks as soon as the permitting process is done and we're hoping to open in July of 2023."
The application process for the school's first class is expected to open in about 10 months.
Work is also underway for a new medical school in Billings; a ground-breaking ceremony was held earlier this week. Click here for details.