Influx of medical school students could overwhelm Montana resources, program leaders warn

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Architect rendering of new Rocky Vista University on the West End of Billings. 

Courtesy image Andrea Halland, Kaiser Health News

Opening two new medical schools in Montana would stretch and possibly overwhelm the state’s physicians who provide the clinical training that students need to become doctors, according to leaders of a University of Washington medical school program that relies on those teaching physicians.

The University of Washington School of Medicine’s WWAMI program in Montana requires its students who have finished their academic work to complete clerkships and clinical rotations to graduate, and then those graduates must be matched with residencies. WWAMI — an acronym of the five states participating in the program: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho — uses hundreds of Montana physicians for that hands-on training, in addition to physicians in the other four states.

That’s why plans by the for-profit Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine to build a campus in Billings and the nonprofit Touro College and University System to build an osteopathic medical school in Great

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