UM Family Medicine Residency Receives Grant Funding for Work on Opioid Abuse

December 15, 2017

MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana has received supplemental funding of $80,000 in addition to their current $1.7 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The money will be used to provide opioid-related training not only for the residency program, but also program partners, including in rural Montana communities. The Montana Pain Conference that will occur in collaboration with the Western Montana Area Health Education Center April 5-6, 2018, at the UM University Center will also be funded by this grant.

“This is an excellent opportunity for FMRWM to provide resources and education to our partner communities regarding this very significant health issue and to manifest the program’s mission in new and tangible ways,” said Dr. Ned Vasquez, FMRWM program director and grant co-principal investigator. 

Between 2000 and 2015, 693 deaths in Montana were attributed to prescription opioid poisoning as reported by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Further reported by Montana DPHHS, drug overdoses are the third-leading cause of injury-related death in Montana, accounting for 1,334 deaths between 2003 and 2014. Opioid abuse has reached epidemic proportions nationally and has become a health crisis.

The purpose of the supplemental funding is to enhance and expand training for primary care providers across Montana in opioid use disorder diagnosis, prevention and treatment. The funding will also go toward integrating opioid-related training into the core curriculum of the residency training program. The residency program will work closely with their 10 rural training sites to offer expanded opioid training and reduced conference fees for rural providers.

“The Montana Pain Conference: Evolving Science & Modalities” will offer education on the latest research and innovation with a focus on safe prescribing and alternative treatment methods in chronic pain care.

“There is an incredible need in our Montana communities for opioid training and education, and we are excited to use these dollars to help highly motivated providers to better serve their communities and increase patient satisfaction,” said Dr. Marc Mentel, FMRWM faculty member and Montana Pain Conference chair. “It’s all about maximizing and enhancing local resources for better rural health.”

The conference will feature national researchers, thinkers and providers focused on sharing innovations in chronic pain care.

Sean Fargo will share how he worked with pain doctors at Harvard, Stanford and the Mayo Clinic developed the world’s first patented digital health solution, which enables physicians and other care providers to prescribe mindfulness and meditation in lieu of opiates to better treat patients for better patient outcomes.

Another speaker and leader in pain management, Dr. Melissa Geraghty, is the recipient of the 2016 Hero of Hope Award from the International Pain Foundation and the 2015 recipient of the Midwest Pain Society’s Clinical Excellence Award.

Recently featured on National Public Radio, Dr. Jack Westfall will also share his story at the Montana Pain Conference. Westfall is a family physician and researcher at the University of Colorado and with the High Plains Research Network. He has been working with rural clinics and hospitals in Colorado to create solutions for the rural Colorado opioid crisis.

To see the full agenda or register, the Montana Pain Conference is online at  

  Mentel will present “Building a Case for Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder” at the Friday Medical Conference on Jan. 19, 2018. His presentation will take place from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. in Conference Room 1.  Live streaming will be available at Both the Montana Pain Conference and the Friday Medical Conference have been submitted for Continuing Medical Education credits. The Montana Pain Conference confers 12 credits and the Friday Medical Conference confers 1 credit.

Headquartered in Missoula, FMRWM is sponsored by UM and affiliated with the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network. The program is distinctively 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, in Missoula, Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center. Residents are involved in continuity clinic training at Flathead Community Health Center in Kalispell and Partnership Health Center in Missoula.

Additionally, the program works with an extensive rural training network of 10 sites: 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, Barrett Hospital and Healthcare and Central Montana Medical Center.

For more information visit


Contact: Rebecca Morgan, project and communications manager, UM Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana, 406-544-5085,