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Blue Cross Blue Shield Montana Kicks Off Fundraising Drive For Psychiatry Residency Program

Kay Erickson

A funding campaign by the Billings Clinic Foundation for its psychiatry residency program got a big gift on Dec, 11, 2018.

A $250,000 donation from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana has jump started a $3.3 million fundraising campaign to help to fund Montana’s first psychiatry residency program.

Julie Kelso, Billings Clinic psychiatrist and the program director, said this will have a big impact on Montana because medical residents tend to stay where they train...

“We are expecting that these residents, 70% to 80 %, will ultimately end up living and practices in Montana,” said Kelso,” so we are thinking this will help with the mental health crisis in Montana.”

This endowment by the Billings Clinic will help to sustain the psychiatry residency program for Montana with emphasis on recruiting those medical residents who have a strong desire to practice in Montana.

Kelso says there has been a lot of interest by people who want to be a part of a residency program in Montana. They have had 400 applicants. At pool will eventually be narrowed down through interviews to the inaugural three-person class that will begin study in Seattle at University of Washington in July of next year.

Kelso said this program will be a statewide effort.

“It requires all of us to really train these residents and make it a meaningful program,” Kelso said.

The Billings Clinic announced in September 2018 the creation of Montana’s first ever psychiatry residency program. Montana, Wyoming and Alaska are the only states without this type of residency program and the three are also states with the highest rates of suicide in the nation,

Money for the first three years of the program’s start up comes from a $3 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.