MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s family medicine residency program recently was awarded the highest level of accreditation available from its oversight organization.
The Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana earned the high marks from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. UM launched the residency program in 2013, and it will train 30 medical residents at a time after the third class is added this year.
“This is a manifestation of immense work by our staff, faculty and residents to create and implement a high quality family medicine training program,” Program Director Ned Vasquez said. “Their decision was based on a site visit in late July 2014 and our submission of information electronically into the ACGME Accreditation Data System.”
The ACGME decision moves the residency program from its initial provisional status into a new 10-year cycle, which is the top achievable accreditation level. It requires all programs to submit a thorough annual evaluation, on which ongoing accreditation status is based. An extensive self-study will be completed after 10 years, and actual accreditation site visits are unlikely.
Vasquez said they look forward to March, when individuals will join the program to create the third class.
“We had over 800 applications for our 10 slots this year and interviewed about 80 medical students for seven lots in Missoula and 30 for three positions in Kalispell. We also added our ninth faculty member in January and are targeting the addition of two faculty in June – one in Kalispell and one in Missoula.”
Montana historically has ranked 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. Vasquez said this is a challenge for Montana because physicians tend to locate in the area where they complete their training. More Montana family medicine resident positions will result in more doctors staying in Montana. About 70 percent of the Billings residency program graduates have stayed in Montana.
ACGME is a private, professional organization responsible for the accreditation of about 9,500 residency education programs. For more information visit https://www.acgme.org/.