Rural doctor program gains graduates

MISSOULA – Montana will gain five new medical doctors who will care for Montanans in rural and underserved areas.

Missoula, Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana is sponsored by UM and affiliated with the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network., montana living, montana health journal

The University of Montana will celebrate the graduation of its inaugural class of family physicians, ushering in a new phase for the Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana. In July 2013, the program welcomed its inaugural class of 10 residents, and in July, the program will celebrate its first graduating class.
FMRWM is a three-year, intensive training program that prepares family physicians to practice effectively in rural and underserved areas in Montana. Of the first class to graduate, five out of the 10 family physicians already have accepted employment in Montana and will work in rural and underserved areas.

Graduate Kevin Kropp plans to work in Kalispell, Saul Rivard will be employed by the Cooperative Health Center in Helena, T.J. Sherry and Scot Swanson are headed to Polson and Megan Svec will be employed in Ronan. Graduate Ben Grass plans to practice in rural Montana or British Columbia. Other graduates have accepted placements out-of-state: Harshida Chaudhari is headed to Texas, Dan McCarthy will begin an osteopathic fellowship in Oregon, Tim Ochoa will practice in Idaho and Sarah Zuger will work in California.

When the residency program began in 2013, Montana ranked 50th in the nation for graduate medical education per capital. The creation of Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana more than doubled the number of family medicine physicians being trained in Montana each year and is expected to have a significant impact on the state’s shortage of primary care doctors in rural communities.

“Our mission has always been to train family physicians for the rural and underserved populations in Montana,”  program director Dr. Ned Vasquez said. “The program has been successful in its first three years due to the great investment in that mission by the residency’s staff, residents and faculty. The inaugural class has been an integral part of that process.” 
Vasquez said 53 out of the 56 counties in Montana are underserved, and 11 counties lack any physician at all.

“We are dedicated to physician workforce development and changing those statistics,” he said.
“Our goal in the College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences is to train the next generation of health practitioners and researchers with a focus of not only serving Montana and its needs, but also the world,” Reed Humphrey, dean of the college, said. “This residency program is a key component of UM’s Health & Medicine Initiative, which brings health care education and research together. We are excited to sponsor the Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana program and integrate inter-professional opportunities within the college and residency.”

Headquartered in Missoula, Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana is sponsored by UM and affiliated with the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network. Distinctively, the program is dually accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Osteopathic Association.

 The program’s three sponsoring hospitals in western Montana include Kalispell Regional Healthcare and Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center in Missoula. Residents are involved in continuity clinic training at Partnership Health Center in Missoula and Flathead Community Health Center in Kalispell.

The program works with an extensive rural training network of nine sites, including Blackfeet Community Hospital, Northwest Community Health Center, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, Clark Fork Valley Hospital, St. Luke Community Healthcare, Community Physicians Group-Stevensville, Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, Community Hospital of Anaconda and Barrett Hospital and Healthcare.

Eligibility Requirements

  • U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident - we do not sponsor visas
  • Fourth Year Medical Student or Graduate from LCME accredited Medical School or COCA accredited DO school
  • If you are an international graduate, we prefer that you be ECFMG certified prior to submission of application
  • No more than one USMLE or COMLEX exam failure preferred
  • Preferred graduation within 6 months of residency matriculation
  • Applications must be received no later than November 15

Application Requirements

Please make sure that your application shows the reason that you would be a good fit for the mission of our program. 

  • Common Application Form through ERAS
  • Personal Statement
  • Official Medical School Transcript
  • Three letters of recommendation (one must be from a U.S. Family Medicine Physician)
  • USMLE or COMLEX scores
  • ECFMG Certificate if an International Medical Graduate
  • Dean’s Letter

For more information visit

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published