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Billings Clinic announced that it has filled all three spots in the inaugural class of Montana’s first-ever psychiatry residency program.

 The positions were filled through the National Resident Matching Program, which uses a computerized mathematical algorithm to align the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency program directors in order to fill available training positions.

Dr. Julie Kelso, psychiatry residency program director and psychiatrist at Billings Clinic said, “We received hundreds of applications for this class, and the resident physicians joining our program represent the future of psychiatric care in Montana and across our region. They were selected based on a mutual interest in rural psychiatric care, and we are all excited to start training in this important program.”

The residents are Brian Schlidt, Casper, WY; Russell Ollerton, Half Moon Bay, CA; and Kimiko (Koko) Urata.

For decades, three states – Montana, Wyoming and Alaska – have consistently reported suicide rates that are, or are among, the highest in the country. These are also the only states without residency programs to train psychiatrists. Rural areas in Montana and throughout the region face a mental health crisis due to high suicide rates, isolation and a lack of mental health care resources and providers.

Considering these needs and with the support of a $3 million grant awarded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Billings Clinic created in 2018 Montana’s first-ever psychiatry residency program. Called the Montana Track at Billings Clinic, this program is a regional track of the University of Washington Psychiatry Residency Training Program. The Billings Clinic Foundation is conducting an endowment campaign to provide ongoing support for the residency.

The program will include a total of 12 residents across all four years of the residency curriculum. After completing medical school, residents will spend their first two years in Seattle, Washington, and complete the final two years at Billings Clinic with elective rotations in areas throughout Montana.

Through the residency, psychiatrists will train to become change agents in the rural communities they serve by uncovering and nurturing their passions, teaching evidence-based clinical skills and inspiring innovative approaches to closing gaps in community-based systems of mental health care.

Residents will be integrated into Billings Clinic Psychiatric Services, which includes Montana’s largest outpatient psychiatric practice, a 44-bed inpatient psychiatric unit serving children and adults, and the state’s most comprehensive behavioral health team made up of 12 psychiatrists, five nurse practitioners and one physician assistant.