UW News

August 17, 2006

Physician training to increase with new Montana Track program

By Leila Gray
News & Community Relations

The Montana WWAMI medical education program announced Aug. 9 that Billings and Missoula will be home to an expanded effort to train new physicians for Montana.

UW School of Medicine students will have the option of taking their third-year clinical training in one of these cities. The program, called the Montana Track, is part of the regionalized medical education program in the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.

“Given that nearly two-thirds of the state’s population lives in non-metropolitan areas, Montana particularly sees a need for rural physicians and for primary care doctors,” said Dr. John B. Coombs, UW associate vice president for clinical systems and community relations, and vice dean for regional affairs, rural health, and graduate medical education.

The required third-year clerkships are family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. The internal medicine clerkship has already been taught in Missoula and Billings for years, and the clerkship in obstetrics/gynecology is offered in both cities. Clerkships in family medicine will continue to be offered in Havre and Whitefish, as will the Great Falls clerkship in pediatrics.

Plans are under way to develop fourth-year clerkships in neurology, emergency medicine, and chronic care and rehabilitation. The Montana Track will start in 2008, although medical students may take newly established clerkships in 2007.

Since WWAMI began in the 1970s, Montana’s population has grown 30 percent, but the number of Montana WWAMI students has remained the same. A proposal will go before the state’s legislature to increase Montana’s annual student slots from 20 to 30.