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New medical school in Billings takes step forward

Posted at 11:22 AM, May 18, 2021

BILLINGS - Rocky Vista University’s plan to build a medical school in Billings reached a milestone this week.

The proposed $50 million medical school received approval from the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.

The approval will move the West End project to the next phase of development. The Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine (MCOM) will be built off Shiloh and Monad roads.

“We are excited about this advancement in the development of Montana’s new medical school in Billings. Our goal is to bring innovative and high-quality medical education to the region with an inclusive mindset. We look forward to the opportunity to work collaboratively with the community and all the healthcare providers and facilities in the region to further the common mission of improving the lives and health of people,” said David J. Park, the first dean of the school.

RVU expects to admit its first class of 80 students in the summer of 2023, with the first round of clinical clerkship rotations beginning in July 2025.

The proposed medical school has been mired in some controversy and opposition from part of the Billings medical community. Only one of the two major medical providers in Billings is in favor of the plan. St. Vincent HealthCare is supportive, and Billings Clinic is opposed.

Billings Clinic announced in late March they decided to end conversations with the ownership group of Rocky Vista University. They cited concerns about being able to provide expanded teaching for additional medical students during their clinical rotations. Montana has an existing agreement with the University of Washington and the WWAMI program. WWAMI stands for the five states served by the UW School of Medicine.

Support remains strong from St. Vincent Healthcare. In a press release on March 26 SCL President Steve Loveless said: “The need for skilled medical professionals in Montana and northern Wyoming is real. Ensuring we have an aligned and committed community partner to address the need is critical. St. Vincent Healthcare continues to support this potential community partner with the proposed Rocky Vista University Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine in Billings.”

When completed MCOM will be housed in a 135,000-square-foot facility on a 12-acre campus.

David Forstein, Provost of Rocky Vista University, commented in a press release: “We are thrilled that the COCA has approved RVU’s application to develop the MCOM, marking the next exciting step forward in the Billings development project. We are grateful for and encouraged by the strong support we have received from the community. We look forward to continuing to work with the local medical and business community to utilize our expertise to bring superior outcomes for students and benefits to Billings and the greater Mountain West region.”

RVU currently has campus locations in Utah and Colorado.

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