Touro College and University System to Establish Montana Medical School

As a member of one of the nation’s largest, most diverse networks of medical and health sciences schools, Touro College Montana will help address the rural doctor shortage and support minority representation in the medical profession

October 12, 2021
Touro and Benefis executives lined up in front of an excavator, each holding a shovel, for Groundbreaking at Touro College Montana
Touro and Benefis executives break ground for the new medical school.

GREAT FALLS, MONT — Touro College and University System, one of the nation’s leading non-profit institutions of higher and professional education, broke ground this week on its proposed college of osteopathic medicine in Great Falls, Montana. The new school will help address the state’s physician shortage and increase access to healthcare.

Montana is facing a healthcare crisis, with 11 of the state’s 56 total counties lacking a practicing physician and 52 counties identified as areas with health profession shortages. Establishing a medical school in the state would significantly address this great need, as studies show that 39% of physicians practice in the state where they completed medical school.

“The mission of Touro’s osteopathic medical schools is to train osteopathic physicians, with a particular emphasis on practicing medicine in underserved communities, and to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, President of the Touro College and University System.

“By establishing a medical school in Montana, we will not only address the state’s rural health crisis, but also provide medical education opportunities and access to care for its tribal population,” said Patricia Salkin, Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs, Touro College and University System. Approximately 30% of the current student body in Touro’s osteopathic medical schools is comprised of underrepresented minorities and 55% of graduates practice in underserved communities.

“Our presence in Great Falls speaks to our institutional vision of bringing exceptional educational opportunities to areas where they are needed and to the people who will truly benefit from our expertise," said Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka, Executive Vice President, Touro College and University System.

Touro College Montana will expand the University System’s existing national footprint of top-tier medical schools that currently includes an allopathic medical school, New York Medical College and four colleges of osteopathic medicine located in Nevada, California and Harlem and Middletown, New York. Currently, 60% of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine graduates enter the field of primary care.  

"What happens in osteopathic medical schools in general is that there are a far higher percentage of primary care physicians and those physicians tend to work in smaller communities in rural areas,” said John Goodnow, Chief Executive Officer, Benefis Health System.

“Primary care physicians are crucial to managing the ongoing care needs of Montana’s aging population with chronic health conditions, and they are critical in managing care throughout rural Montana,” said Dr. Paul Dolan, Chief Medical Officer at Benefis Health System. “We project physician demand increasing by nearly 20% in the next five years. Partnering with a reputable institution such as Touro University gives me great hope for the future of care in Montana.”

According to the Montana American Indian Caucus, the shortage of medical personnel in the state is critical for Tribal health facilities and the serious health disparities facing tribal communities must be addressed.

Touro College in Great Falls will be located on 26th Street South, adjacent to the Benefis East Campus. The start of academic offerings is anticipated for Fall 2023.