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Billings Clinic holds graduation for residents at Depot

Posted at 10:58 PM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-06 00:58:01-04

Billings Clinic internal medicine residents celebrated graduation at the Billings Depot on Friday night.

It was first event back for the Depot going into phase two COVID-19 guidelines.

Thirteen graduated from the program.

"I love internal medicine because you get to be able to look after patients from all walks of life with all kinds of different problems," said Dr. James Butler, one of the graduates. "You really get to meet people where they're at in some of the most challenging parts of their life. And hopefully make difference and make a positive impact."

"This is the pinnacle of the completion of their training, and at this point in time, they start their own lives and their own practice," said Dr. Mark Lee, director of the program. "Our program is actually focused specifically on some of the rural aspects."

Because of COVID-19 guidelines, the graduation had to be moved from Billings Clinic to the Billings Depot.

"It's a last-minute thing, but it's amazing to see how even a pandemic can bring the best out of people," Lee said.

"We spent a lot of time developing a new training system," said Michelle Williams, executive director at the Depot. "An event has so many other vendors that they work with, so being able to open and host an event is exciting for us but exciting for all of the other partners that we work with."

Billings Clinic showed the graduation on Facebook for its workers and for families.

Butler's family lives 7,000 miles away in Reading, England, which is west of London.

"Kind of more densely populated," Butler said. "It's been more strict. It's been a different level of freedom there compared to here."

He's ready to stay in the U.S. and move to Evansville, Indiana, as associate program director for internal medicine at Indiana University.

"I've loved living in Montana," Butler said. "It's been a beautiful part of the States. Love the people here. It's been a real experience and I've loved working at Billings Clinic as well."

Lee said about a third of the graduates stay in the region.