Rocky Vista University welcomes first students to Billings

BILLINGS — Rocky Vista University in Billings is accepting its first batch of students.

The newly built university is Montana’s first physical medicine university and has 50 students who come to Billings to tour the brand new medical facility.

They will also have some persuasion about why they should choose Billings, Montana.

“We’re really excited to welcome them,” said Jaime Sparling, director of admissions at the university. “We plan to show them around Billings via trolley. We want to show them Zimmern Trail and the other universities we will be collaborating with, some of the great routes. We are also very happy to show them the hospitals. I am hoping that ‘they will be able to see the mountains in the distance.’

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Beyond the beauty of Big Sky Country, there is an impressive 138,000 square foot medical campus that is already attracting top candidates with 1,400 applicants to date. Fifty have been accepted and only 80 places remain for its inaugural class of July 2023.

“We’re going to have so many great spaces for them: our library, our simulation lab, our cadaver lab, our manipulative medicine lab, and we’re going to have virtual reality,” Sparling said.

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Equally impressive will be the program tailored to meet the health needs of rural Montana.

“There’s a great need here in Billings and Montana,” Sparling said. “There is quite a shortage of doctors and we hope that students will fall in love with Montana and want to stay here and serve here.”

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And while the new Billings campus is finishing construction, RVU’s existing campuses in Colorado and Utah are going from strength to strength.

“Our other two campuses have the highest pass rates on board exams of any (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) school in the country and we have over 98% match for residency,” Sparling said.

RVU is busy producing brilliant doctors like Samuel Pollack, a Laurel native who attends the Utah campus. He graduates in May after completing his rotation at RiverStone Health in Billings, then he is in residency.

“When I was 5, I decided I wanted to be a brain surgeon, which you know, everyone has a brain surgeon, an astronaut. But I kind of stuck with it,” said said Pollack. “I ended up choosing family medicine because I love connecting with people.”

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But he also enjoys working under the microscope.

“I did a lot of work with bacteriophages. I isolated a few viruses there. One I named after my wife Emma. This one, not that important. The one I named after a meme, I named it #yoloswag and it ended up going pretty viral. But it’s romantic to name the lowest form of life after you.”

All kidding aside, RVU’s growth plan calls for many more spouses, families, and individuals to move to Billings as peak enrollment reaches 640 students by 2028, with half of those students in class. and the other rotating.

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