GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Montana could soon see its first medical school in Great Falls.
In the next three years, Montana may have a new osteopathic medical school coming directly from the Touro College and University System.
“We’re ecstatic about this being in Great Falls. We think this will be a huge opportunity for the community and it will also transform our medical staff in terms of it becoming an educational institution,” Dr. Paul Dolan, chief medical information officer for Benefis Health System, said.
Benefis is helping facilitate the project and will provide a site for clinical training if this program becomes a reality.
Montana is one of only four states in the nation without a medical school and data shows that 93% of counties in Montana are designated as having medical provider shortages, which in the long-run has caused serious issues.
“Lack of primary care providers… there are lots of communities now that no longer have a physician. Access to primary care is a huge issue,” Dr. Dolan said.
Touro is a non-profit medical school that focuses on serving rural areas and Native American populations.
With Montana being one of the top states in need, Dr. Dolan says this could be a huge step moving forward.
“This is a huge economic opportunity for Great Falls, I think,” he said. “I grew up in Great Falls and I have been back here since 1986 and this is the biggest economic opportunity for the city in that entire time period.”
Right now Benefis is developing plans with Touro on what operation will look like, but the next step is for the school to put in an application for accreditation which will go to the certifying commission in April.
Billings is also looking to pursue a for-profit medical school but both schools will have to go through the accreditation process before moving forward.