UM Family Medicine Residency Program to Graduate 8 New Family Physicians

June 22, 2017

MISSOULA – Residents in underserved areas will gain eight new medical doctors on Sunday, June 25, when the University of Montana graduates its second class of family physicians from the Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana.

All eight of the graduating family physicians have already accepted employment to stay true to the three-year, intensive training program’s mission of serving rural and underserved areas throughout the Pacific Northwest.

 “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,” program director Ned Vasquez said. “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.”

Four new family physicians will practice in western Montana. Sarah Watson and Emma Wright will be employed in Missoula at Partnership Health Center, and Nicole Russell will be employed in Kalispell at Flathead Community Health Center. Justin Perry will practice in Helena at St. Peter’s Hospital.

Nick Blake plans to work in Oregon. Nicole Breen, Jesse Charles and Michael Druschel will head to Washington state.

In Montana, 53 out of 56 counties are underserved, and 11 counties are without physicians. 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 is expected to have a significant impact on the state’s shortage of primary care doctors in rural communities.

UM College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences Dean Reed Humphrey said the goal of UM’s Health and Medicine initiative is to train the next generation of health practitioners and researchers with a focus of not only serving Montana and its needs, but also the world.

“The family medicine residency program is an excellent way to integrate inter-professional opportunities within the college and residency,” Humphrey said. “We are pleased to be able to sponsor and work closely with the residency program.”

Headquartered in Missoula, FMRWM is sponsored by UM and affiliated with the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network. Distinctively, the program is 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 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, 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.

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Note to the media: FMRWM welcomes members of the media to interview graduating residents from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 25, ahead of the formal ceremony at The Ranch Club, located at 8501 Ranch Club Road. 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, Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana, 406-544-5085,