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New $78M medical school planned for Billings

Rocky Vista University coming to West End
RVU Rendering.png
Posted at 2:40 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 13:11:53-05

A for-profit osteopathic school has selected Billings as the site for a new four-year medical school.

Officials at Rocky Vista University announced Tuesday that they will build a 135,000-square-foot, technologically-advanced facility on a 12-acre campus off the intersection of Shiloh and Monad roads, which will be known as the Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The college's start-up period will run from this year through 2023 and cost $78.6 million, provide 350 jobs to the area and generate $1.2 million in tax revenue to communities in the area, according to a news release from Big Sky Economic Development.

The college will hit full operation in 2026 and will support 304 direct and indirect jobs $67 million in total economic impact and add $3.3 million in revenue to state and local governments.

The college would be Montana's only four-year undergraduate medical school. Rocky Vista operates two other schools in Colorado and Southern Utah.

Billings was selected after an extensive location search by RVU to continue its mission-led focus of providing quality healthcare education while inspiring students to serve with compassion, integrity, and excellence, according to Big Sky Economic Development.

Rocky Vista University was established in 2006 as the nation’s first private, for-profit health sciences university to offer a professional medical degree since 1910, according to the school's website.

Representatives of both of Billings' hospitals praised the arrival of Rocky Vista.

“We are excited about the important economic opportunity this presents, however, our first priority is to ensure that we fully engage our medical staff to determine what level of commitment can be made to future training so that it doesn’t take away from our strong and ongoing commitment to programs such as WWAMI, the Rocky PA program, and our existing residencies,” said Dr. Toni Green-Cheatwood, chief medical officer of Billings Clinic, in a written statement. "With a mission of Health Care, Education and Research, we take every opportunity for advancing education seriously and will work diligently to explore how we may be able to add value to this effort.”

Dr. Michael Bush, chief medical officer of St. Vincent Healthcare, offered similar sentiments.

“My initial reaction is one of great excitement for the Billings medical community and will provide overall progress in medicine in many ways. The difference between osteopathic and allopathic medicine is shrinking and community-based osteopathic medicine is mainstream today. In 10-12 years, a medical school can change the culture of the community. The medical community will be included in the education program and the community will benefit," he said.