UM Family Medicine Residency Program Graduates 12 Family Physicians

June 25, 2018

MISSOULA – Montana and the Pacific Northwest will gain 12 new doctors on Sunday, July 1, when the University of Montana graduates its third class of family physicians from the Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana.

Of the dozen graduates, a record number of 11 physicians accepted employment to stay in the state. Eight will enter practices in rural and underserved areas in Montana and Oregon.

“It is extremely satisfying to see the fulfillment of our mission become a reality as our graduates head to the rural and underserved communities of Montana and the region,” said Ned Vasquez, program director. “The fact they are doing so speaks highly of the individuals we have recruited and the curriculum they have experienced in their time with us.”

Noor Bass, Christina Richards and Ethan Richards will work at Providence Health & Services Western Montana in Missoula, and Andrew Stritzke will be employed in Missoula at Community Medical Center. Mariah Bonner, Laura Hoganson and Tyler Thorson will work at St. Luke Community Healthcare in Ronan. Cassandra and Brian Lopez will practice in Lewistown at Central Montana Medical Center. Felicia Lucas will work with the Northwest Community Health Center in Libby. Amy Dear-Ruel will practice in Northwest Montana, and Elizabeth Erikson will work in rural Oregon.

A vast majority of Montana – 53 out of 56 counties – is still medically underserved, and 11 counties are without a physician. When the residency program began in 2013, Montana ranked 50th in the nation for graduate medical education per capita. The creation of FMRWM more than doubled the number of family medicine physicians trained in Montana each year and slowly shifted Montana to 46th in the nation for graduate medical education. UM’s residency program continues to impact the state’s shortage of primary care doctors in rural communities.

“The Family Medicine Residency program has proven to be an excellent way to integrate interprofessional opportunities and training within the college and residency,” said Reed Humphrey, dean of UM’s College of Health Professions & Biomedical Sciences. “UM’s sponsorship and close relationship with the residency program is incredibly valuable.”

Headquartered in Missoula, FMRWM is sponsored by UM and affiliated with the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network. The program is dually accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Osteopathic Association.

The program’s sponsoring hospitals in Western Montana include Kalispell Regional Healthcare, as well as Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center in Missoula. Residents are involved in continuity clinic training at Partnership Health Center in Missoula and Flathead Community Health Center in Kalispell.

Additionally, the program works with an extensive rural training network of 10 sites, including Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning, Northwest Community Health Center in Libby, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson, Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains, St. Luke Community Healthcare in Ronan, Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital in Hamilton, Community Hospital of Anaconda, Barrett Hospital and Healthcare in Dillon, St. James Healthcare in Butte and Central Montana Medical Center in Lewistown.

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Note to the media: FMRWM welcomes members of the media to interview graduating residents from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 1, ahead of the formal ceremony, at the Ranch Club, located at 8501 Ranch Club Rd.

To coordinate in advance, call FMRWM project and communications manager Rebecca Morgan at 406-544-5085 or email

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