Several Internal Medicine Residency Graduates Remain To Serve Rural Patients

Jul 5, 2017

Dr. Sierra Gross, in white coat, consults with an ICU nurse on a patient.
Credit Jackie Yamanaka

One of the first graduates of the internal medicine residency program at Billings Clinic will join a practice in Sheridan, Wyoming this fall.

The residency program was created to increase the number of primary care physicians to serve patients who live in rural areas.  The program was designed to train internists to care for complex medically ill patients in a rural environment, this includes working in a rural community. Each resident spends one month working at Central Montana Medical Center in Lewistown, Mont., and one month at Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Sheridan, Wyo.

At first, Dr. Gross didn’t think she would be one of those physicians who would chose to practice in a rural area, but she says was eager to find out where a rural medical practice could lead.

Dr. Gross:  It wasn’t until I experienced my first rural rotation in Sheridan where I knew yet this was where I need to be.  

Q - You did a rural rotation in both Lewistown, Montana and Sheridan, Wyoming. When you got there did you feel that you had that support network, that peer-to-peer that team approach that is now so common in medicine?

Dr. Gross:  I did. They were very welcoming and knew a lot about me before I got there. They were prepped so it made an easy transition to build those relationships, to have that interdisciplinary team work together so I didn’t ever feel like there was a delay. But there is a lack of resource in the sense of not enough subspecialties that you would find in one place like such as in Billings Clinic, however those sites have built really good relationships with the Billings Clinic team so it was easy to get a hold of them, it was easy to communicate and if I needed help from a subspecialist I felt confident enough that I could get that help from back in Billings.

Q - Because you are from a rural community, Fallon, Nevada, was there any disappointment you didn’t come home and practice medicine?

Dr. Gross: I wouldn’t say disappointment but ye  my parents would have loved that I come back home though they’re very excited and know that I am pretty passionate about this region and the community and even from just talking to them after my exposure down in Sheridan and they knew how much I loved the community and the hospital and my future colleagues that they knew it was the right fit for me. 

I think that they’re just as excited and they’re eager to come visit Sheridan and see it all has to offer.

Dr. Gross was among 10 physicians who  graduated June 23, 2017 from the first three-year internal medicine residency program at Billings Clinic. Of those, six will practice in a rural area:

  • Noelle Thomas, MD, who will practice at Billings Clinic in Billings, Mont.
  • Kale Knudson, MD, who will practice at Billings Clinic in Billings, Mont.
  • Sierra Gross, MD, who will practice at Big Horn Mountain Medicine in Sheridan, Wyo.
  • Sindy Byington, MD, who will practice at St. Luke’s Magic Valley in Twin Falls, Idaho.
  • Giorgios Hadjivassiliou, MB BS, who will practice at University of Alabama in Birminham, Ala.
  • Brenda Nyamogo, MD, who will practice at McClaren Medical Group in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
  • Reno Terribilini, MD, who will practice at UCLA – Entertainment Industry Medical Group in Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Malathy Tharumarajah, MC, who will practice at McClaren Medical Group in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
  • Michael Barton, MD, completed the one-year program and will continue training in a subspecialty residency program.
  • Chris Lin, MD, completed the one-year program and will continue training in a subspecialty residency program.

Billings Clinic established Montana's first Internal Medicine Residency program in 2014. The program is supported by funding from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.