UM Family Medicine Residency Program Earns $2.5M Grant

MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana just received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. UM’s program is now one of 20 throughout the country to receive an award for residency training in primary care.

The grant will enhance training for resident physicians in rural or underserved areas, while encouraging graduates to pursue careers in rural and underserved primary care after completion of training.

“This funding will allow us to build on our already robust rural medical education and create new rural training opportunities,” said Dr. Darin Bell, FMRWM assistant director of rural education and the principle investigator on the grant. “With it we will have the resources to develop a number of new programs that have been in various stages of planning for several years.”

The five-year award for FMRWM’s Enhanced Rural Access and Training program will facilitate increased learning opportunities in rural and underserved areas through training in addiction medicine, telehealth and interprofessional education.

It also will allow FMRWM to develop an intensive training track that enables residents to complete much of their training and work as primary care doctors in rural areas. Additionally, the grant funds will allow FMRWM to expand its network of rural partner communities and institutions and provide professional development and education for these partners.

“We basically put everything on our rural wish list for the next five years into the grant,” said Dr. Rob Stenger, FMRWM program director. “All activities will be focused on enhancing our current rural training opportunities or building new ones for our residents.”

The residency program welcomed its inaugural class of 10 residents in 2013 and partnered with a core group of nine rural training sites. Seven years later, FMRWM now partners with 16 rural training sites throughout Western Montana and recently graduated its fifth class of family medicine physicians. Over 70% of the graduates have gone on to practice in rural and underserved areas, making the program one of the top producers of rural family physicians in the country.

“This award has a big impact in helping us continue to fulfill our mission of training the highest quality family doctors for rural and underserved communities in Montana,” Bell said. “Our unique training program has already proven highly successful, and we will continue to develop our training in innovative ways which will further distinguish us as a top-tier training program for rural family medicine.”

Headquartered in Missoula, FMRWM is sponsored by UM and affiliated with the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network. The program’s sponsoring hospitals in western Montana are Kalispell Regional Healthcare, Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula 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.

FMRWM works with an extensive rural training network of 16 sites: Barrett Hospital and HealthCare, Dillon; Blackfeet Community Hospital, Browning; Central Montana Medical Center, Lewistown; Clark Fork Valley Hospital, Plains; Community Hospital of Anaconda, Anaconda; Deer Lodge Medical Center, Deer Lodge; Eureka Healthcare-North Valley Hospital, Eureka; Madison Valley Medical Center, Ennis; Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, Hamilton; Northwest Community Health Center, Libby; Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, Polson; Ruby Valley Medical Center, Sheridan; St. Luke Community Hospital, Ronan; St. James Medical Group & Southwest Montana Community Health Center, Butte; Stoneybrook Medicine, Stevensville; and Tribal Health of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, St. Ignatius.


Contact: Darin Bell, assistant director for rural education, Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana, 406-258-4124,; Rob Stenger, FMRWM program director, 406-243-4424,