UM Selects 10 New Family Medicine Residents for Class of 2017

July 10, 2014

MISSOULA – Ten new family doctors were selected as the Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana’s second class. The new residents began their intensive orientation earlier this month at the Partnership Health Center, where they learned about electronic medical records and spent time with a senior physician to learn how to prevent burnout in their career.

The program, sponsored by University of Montana as part of the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network, operates at Partnership Health Center in Missoula and at Flathead Community Health Center in Kalispell. It is one of three residency programs in Montana.

According to Program Coordinator Jenny Wilson, the new class will work at both Community Medical Center and Providence St. Patrick Hospital. Their continuity clinic is Missoula’s Partnership Health Center, and they rotate through multiple other outpatient clinics, including specialty clinics. All residents will begin their training in Missoula and three have been selected to spend their second and third year of residency in Kalispell.

The new Missoula residents are:

  • Dr. Nick Blake of Lebanon, Ore., Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine.
  • Dr. Nicole Breen of Dillon, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • Dr. Jesse Charles of Green Bay, Wisc., University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
  • Dr. Amy Consson of Colstrip, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
  • Dr. Justin Perry of Fort Benton, University of Nevada School of Medicine.
  • Dr. Sarah Watson of Euclid, Ohio, Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • Dr. Emma Wright of Bennington, Vt., Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

The new Kalispell residents are:

  • Dr. Nicole Russell of Charlo, Ross University School of Medicine.
  • Dr. Michael Druschel of Zelienople, Pa., Georgetown University School of Medicine.
  • Dr. Felicia Lucas of Sacramento, Calif., University of Washington School of Medicine.

The Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana launched in 2013. The program aims to add 10 residents each year, creating a program that will eventually train 30 resident physicians at a time.

“We had a very successful first year,” said Program Director Dr. Ned Vasquez. “We continue to refine the first-year rotations, taking feedback from residents and attending doctors in the community, to make them as good as we can.

“At the same time, we have actively been preparing for the second-year rotations,” he said. “Some are new sites, and some involve arranging new schedules because now the sites will be hosting both the first- and second-year residents.”

In January, the program hired Dr. Justin Buls as the Kalispell site director. Buls is a family physician who will work on curriculum and prepare the clinic at Flathead Community Health Center, where residents will see their own patients. He also oversees the continued development of rotations in the hospital and in other health care sites in the community.

Montana ranks 50th in the nation for graduate medical education slots, with only two residency positions for every 100,000 people. The U.S. average is about 25 per 100,000. According to Wilson, this is a challenge for Montana because physicians tend to locate where they last trained. More Montana family medical residencies will result in more doctors staying in Montana. Seventy percent of the Billings residency program graduates have stayed in Montana.

For more information call Vasquez at 406-258-4424 or email


Contact: Jenny Wilson, Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana program coordinator, 406-258-4424,