Brand SpotlightBillings Clinic


Billings Clinic Classic to Benefit Psychiatric Residency Program

Posted at 10:20 AM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 11:06:23-04

Mental illness is the number one cause of medical disability in the United States. Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska rank the highest in the United States in suicide completion rates, with numbers more than double the national average. Coincidentally, until 2018, these three states were the only states in the U.S. without a psychiatry residency program. Mental illness affects individuals and families regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, race, or economic circumstance.

Studies show that at least half of the population will face a mental health issue during their lifetime. This ranges from adjustment disorders and social anxiety to suicidal actions. We desperately need to increase the number of psychiatrists in Montana to create additional access for patients.

With that in mind, Billings Clinic has partnered with the University of Washington to develop Montana’s first Psychiatric Residency Program. The Psychiatry Residency inaugural class will begin their training in July 2019. The program was established with the support of a $3 million grant awarded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

To help launch this critical program, proceeds from the 2019 Billings Clinic Classic will be dedicated to this psychiatric care initiative, allowing Billings Clinic to recruit, train, and retain a new generation of psychiatrists to expand across our region.

The four-year residency will provide a hands-on training experience to three hand-picked residents with a strong desire to serve in rural areas per year, and 12 residents across all four years of the residency curriculum. After completing medical school, residents will spend their first two years in Seattle, Washington, and complete the final two years practicing at Billings Clinic. Residents will be integrated into Billings Clinic Psychiatric Services, which includes Montana’s largest outpatient psychiatric practice, a 44-bed inpatient psychiatric unit serving children and adults, and the state’s most comprehensive behavioral health team made up of 12 psychiatrists, five nurse practitioners and one physician assistant.

“This is a transformational effort that will bring much needed mental health resources to our region while training the next generation of highly skilled psychiatrists,” said Julie Kelso, MD, the residency program’s director and a Billings Clinic psychiatrist. “This would not be possible without the generous support and a shared commitment to rural health care of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. Together, we will continue to strengthen mental health care in our region to meet the needs of our most vulnerable populations.”

Besides helping build a sustainable fund for the residency, this year’s Classic, on Aug. 24, is headlined by Alter Ego. From Montreal, Canada, is North America’s top party band. It is a non-stop all-dance repertoire featuring the best of 70’s disco, 80’s rock, 90’s pop and the hit songs of the new millennium. With 7 lead singer/dancers and 95 dazzling costume changes, the group puts on a show like no other.

Kicking off the evening will be up-and-coming local band Arterial Drive, who will perform during a festive cocktail pre-party. Arterial Drive is a six-member band from Billings.

This year’s Classic is chaired by Eileen McDonald. Julie Kelso, MD, program director of the psychiatry residency, will serve as this year’s physician champion. The theme of the street party is Urban Classic — a play on the setting and classic downtown Billings elements. The entire 2019 Classic will be held outside on Broadway, between Third Avenue North and Fourth Avenue North. This downtown location has been integral to the Classic for over 20 years and is synonymous with the annual fundraiser and celebration. After careful consideration, consulting with supporters and members of the community, and the continued outstanding support from downtown business partners, the Billings Clinic Foundation realized that it already had the perfect location — on the street on Broadway — for this year’s Classic.

To support this critical cause, or to find out more information, visit or call (406) 657-4670.

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