- Rocky Vista University, a for-profit institution focused on healthcare education, has received a key accreditor's approval that will allow it to start recruiting students for a new Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- The medical school plans for 80 students to enroll in its inaugural class starting next summer. It wants to double that to 160 students by 2025.
- Approval came from the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.
Rocky Vista is standing up the new medical school as the U.S. faces a projected shortage of physicians. Physician demand is expected to grow faster than supply, leading to a shortfall of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians by 2034, according to a report published last year by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Physician shortages are of concern in the world of policy and politics, as well as higher education. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, has in recent years pushed for policies that attempt to increase the supply of doctors in rural areas.
Rocky Vista says the new Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine will be the first four-year Montana-based medical school with a dedicated campus in the state. Its planned home is a 12.8-acre campus in Billings. Work started on a 138,000-square-foot building last summer and is scheduled to be finished by the end of this year.
"We are excited to enhance quality medical education in Montana to help solve the health professional shortage in the state and region," Dr. David Forstein, Rocky Vista's president and provost, said in a statement.
The medical college will be the third campus for Rocky Vista, which was founded in 2006. The institution operates its founding campus in Parker, Colorado, and a branch in Ivins, Utah.
Rocky Vista enrolled just under 1,500 students in 2021, according to federal data. It offers three master's and professional degree programs: doctor of osteopathic medicine, master of physician assistant studies and master of science in biomedical sciences.
Rocky Vista is owned by Medforth Global Healthcare Education Group, which also owns St. George's University in Grenada. A Medforth affiliate, University Support Services, provides administrative services to Rocky Vista under a contract.