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Rocky Vista University welcomes first students to Billings

Posted at 7:56 AM, Oct 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-21 11:47:24-04

BILLINGS - Rocky Vista University in Billings is accepting its first batch of students.

The newly-constructed university is Montana’s first physical medical university and it has 50 students coming to Billings to tour the brand new medical facility.

They’ll also have a little bit of persuasion on why they should choose Billings, Montana.

"We’re really excited to welcome them," said Jaime Sparling, the university's director of admissions. "We plan on giving them a tour of Billings via trolly. We want to show them Zimmern Trail and the other universities we will be collaborating with, some of the beautiful drives. We are also really excited to show them the hospitals. I’m hoping they’ll be able to see the mountains in the distance."

Beyond the beauty of Big Sky Country is an impressive 138,000-square-foot medical campus that is already attracting top-tier candidates with 1,400 applicants to date. Fifty have been accepted and there are only 80 spots for its inaugural class of July 2023.

"We’re going to have so many great spaces for them: our library, simulation lab, our cadaver lab, our manipulative medicine lab and we’re going to have virtual reality," Sparling said.

RELATED: Rocky Vista Montana College receives approval to recruit, accept students

Equally impressive will be the curriculum tailored to address Montana’s rural healthcare needs.

"There’s a great need here in Billings and Montana," Sparling said. "There's quite a big physician shortage and we’re hoping that the students will fall in love with Montana and want to stay here and serve here."

And while the new campus in Billings wraps up construction, RVU's existing campuses in Colorado and Utah are going strong.

"Our other two campuses have the highest pass rates of board exams of any of the (doctors of osteopathic medicine) schools across the country and we have over 98% match for residency," Sparling said.

RVU is busy producing brilliant doctors like Samuel Pollack who is originally from Laurel and is attending the Utah campus. He is graduating in May after wrapping up his rotation at RiverStone Health in Billings, then it's onto residency.

"When I was 5 I decided I wanted to be a brain surgeon, which you know everyone has brain surgeon, astronaut. But I kind of just stuck to that," Pollack said. "I ended up deciding on family medicine cause I love building relationships with people."

But he also likes working under the microscope.

"I have a lot of work with bacteriophages. I isolated a few viruses out there. One I named after my wife Emma. That one, not that important. The one I named after a meme, I named it #yoloswag and it ended up being pretty viral. But it's romantic naming the lowest form of life after her."

All joking aside, RVU's growth plan is set to have a lot more spouses, families, and individuals moving to Billings as max enrollment hits 640 students by 2028 with half of those students in the classroom setting and half out on rotation.

RELATED: Officials break ground on new osteopathic medical school in Billings