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You may have many questions about the Idaho Rural Track. Here we answer as many of them as possible. Please contact us if you still have questions. (Click on a link below to jump to a specific section)


Program Beginnings: Who came up with the idea of training psychiatrists in SE Idaho?

Dr. Rex Force, the VP of Health Sciences for Idaho State University, envisioned the development of a rural psychiatry track in Pocatello, Idaho, associated with the ISU and the University of Utah.  Ted Epperly, MD, working with the Idaho State Board of Education, combined the proposed Idaho-Track in Pocatello into a bold and comprehensive 10 Year Idaho State GME Plan, including other types of residency programs.  Early work to move things forward included efforts by Dr. Bartel (U Health) and Drs. Dewey and Hatzenbuehler (ISU).


Development Team: Who was on the education team that created the Idaho-Track?

This program could not be developed without a collaborative effort from both sides.  The Idaho team was led by Dr. Jonathan Cree, a former family practice training director, and assisted by his team, Dr. Erwin, Dr. Ravsten, Brian Hickenlooper, and Rose Johnson. The Utah team was led by Dr. Gray, Vice-Chair of Training and Education, and the first Idaho-Track training director, Dr. Beth Botts.  The team included Glenda Evans, Geoff Erickson, and a small group of current psychiatry residents interested in helping us develop the program (Drs. Morris, McCoy, and Jenkins).  The team received support from Dr. Carlson, the training director for general psychiatry, and Jaime Bruse, the Program Manager for Utah psychiatry training programs.

Developing this program required much assistance from the University of Utah Dean of Idaho Affairs, Dr. Ben Chan, the Dean of Graduate Medical Education, Dr. Brad Poss, as well as Sharee Bracken, who is the Director of GME at the University of Utah.  Legal teams from both sides also assisted.


GME/ACGME Approval:  Process

The application for a “resident complement increase” to accommodate resident training expansion including the Idaho-Track, was approved by the University of Utah GME Committee at their monthly meeting on August 5th, 2019.  The Psychiatry Residency Review Committee (RRC) of the ACGME officially approved the expansion on September 12th, 2019.  The ABPN was consulted and the resident expansion reviewed/discussed.


Program Funding:  How will the program be funded?

The Idaho State Legislature passed legislation in 2018 funding the University of Utah at $60 K per Idaho-Track resident per year.  Idaho State University was also funded by the Idaho legislature for $250 K per year starting in 2017, to help with the cost of the Idaho-Track Associate Training Director, and other program administrative costs.  The Idaho-Track Education Team sought the assistance of Dr. Cannon, the George E. Whalen VA Associate Chief of Staff for Academic Affiliations, who helped the team apply for a federal resident training VACAA grant.  The Idaho-Track was awarded the VACAA grant in 2019, funding all VA rotations for Idaho-Track residents, in both Salt Lake City, and at the Pocatello VA CBOC Clinic.  Hospitals and Clinics in Idaho will help with funding.  The implementation team is working with the Portneuf Foundation and Idaho philanthropists who have interest in supporting this program.


Number of Residents: How many residents will train in the Idaho-Track?

The Idaho-Track will include three residents per year for a total of four years, equal twelve residents total when the program finishes four years of recruitment from 2020-2023.


First Residents Start:  When does the first Idaho-Track residents start training?

The first class are being recruited during the 2019-2020 interview season, and will start training on June 24, 2020.  Idaho-Track residents will move to Idaho for their final 2 years of training.  The first Idaho-Track residents will relocate to the Pocatello area to start their PGY-3 year on July 1, 2022.


Early Idaho Rotation Experience:  Will Idaho-Track residents get any Idaho training during the first two years?

The first two years of training will primarily be at current training sites in Salt Lake City, while the last two years of training will primarily occur in SE Idaho (Pocatello area) at a variety of training sites.  Interns are scheduled for 4 months of primary care.  The current plan is to have our Idaho-Track residents to rotate for one month on medicine at Portneuf Medical Center (PMC) in Pocatello as interns, and for one month at PMC doing inpatient psychiatry in their 2nd year of training.  This will give Idaho-Track residents a chance to work with interns and residents from the Idaho State University Family Practice program, and to develop relationships leading to improved sharing of ideas and consultations between both programs.


Housing Support:  For residents or medical students living in Salt Lake City, where do they live when they do a single rotation in Idaho?

Idaho State University has agreed to provide housing for our PGY 1-2 residents who do one rotation per year at Portneuf Hospital in Pocatello, but are living in Salt Lake City.  Housing will be in “married student housing,” which can be scheduled for availability by the training program.  There will also be housing available for medical student rotations.


Program Administration Location:  Where is the training program leadership located?

Dr. Beth Botts is the first Associate Training Director for the program.  She resides in Salt Lake City and works at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute.  She plans to help transition the role to a new Associate Training Director living/relocating to Pocatello, with considerable time prior to the first residents moving from Salt Lake to Pocatello.  The Associate Training Director reports to Dr. Paul Carlson, the General Psychiatry Training Director.  The Idaho-Track Coordinator will eventually be located in Pocatello, Idaho.  They report to the Program Manager in SLC, Jaime Christensen.


Administrative Roles: What are the roles of the Associate Training Director located in SE Idaho?

Separate from their training administrative role, the new Associate Training Director will need to supervise residents at more than one training site, until we can grow the faculty and have faculty on site for each rotation.  The Idaho-Track Associate Training Director and the Coordinator will report to the University of Utah General Psychiatry Training Director and Program Manager, respectively.


Malpractice Coverage:  How will malpractice insurance be covered when training in Idaho?

Yes – Idaho-Track residents are University of Utah residents, receive a University of Utah paycheck all four years, and have full malpractice coverage by the University of Utah.  Dr. Gray presented the issue of training residents out of state with Idaho Adjunct Faculty to Suzette Goucher and the University of Utah Risk Management Committee on July 12, 2019.  All three of the malpractice coverage requests were approved by the Committee: 1) University of Utah residents training in Idaho, 2) University of Utah medical students training in Idaho, and 3) current University of Utah residents rotating at future training sites in Idaho.  Months later, resident moonlighting in Idaho was also approved for malpractice coverage, as long as the supervisor was adjunct faculty and all charts were co-signed by the faculty member.


Student Applicants:  For medical students applying to the program, will students with Idaho connections have priority?

Yes – although the program is open to candidates from across the US, applicants who are “connected” to Idaho will receive priority.  Statistically, having a connection with the rural area where a resident receives training is the best predictor for retaining that psychiatrist after graduation.  Connections could include being born or raised in Idaho, having family in Idaho, spending considerable time in Idaho, attending school in Idaho, or via other relationships.


Interest in Program:  How much interest is there among medical school applicants for the Idaho-Track?

Among the 130 medical students invited to interview at the University of Utah during the 2019-20 interview season, 41 students have indicated an interest in applying to the Idaho-Track.  Among the 2018-19 medical student applicants, when surveyed, 31% expressed some interest in a (hypothetical) Idaho-Track


Didactics:  Will Idaho-Track residents have a full-day of protected didactics on Wednesdays just like the residents training in Salt Lake City?

Yes!  Having a protected “education day” is a time-honored strength of our program and helps us to attract some of the top medical students to our residency program.  Program rotation sites get the residents “uninterrupted” on the other days of the week, compared with other programs where residents leave each day for lectures.  Rotations pay 25% for a day of resident work, since they fund their proportion of the Wednesday lectures (1 day of clinical work = 8 hours clinical work plus funding for 2 hours of Wednesday’s didactics)


Tele-Didactics:  How will residents training in Idaho get all the didactic lectures they need?

State of the art video equipment will be available in both Idaho and the University of Utah.  We plan to use Zoom as the platform for the residents sitting in a group education room in Idaho.  We anticipate, as the Idaho-Track grows and adds faculty, that many lectures and learning experiences will led by Idaho-Track Faculty in Pocatello, and Zoom will be used for specialized areas of psychiatry.


Fellowship Following Residency:  What if an Idaho-Track resident wants to do a fellowship?

We encourage any of our Idaho-Track residents who are interested in applying for a Fellowship to apply.  Nationally, Child psychiatry training typically allows a resident to skip the last year of general psychiatry training to begin child psychiatry training.  The first year of child training can be “double counted” towards completion of general psychiatry.  However, the Idaho-Track is being designed as a 4-year general psychiatry program, so we strongly encourage residents to finish the program before beginning a child psychiatry fellowship.


Primary Training Sites:  What are the primary training sites in SE Idaho for the 3rd and 4th year of Idaho-Track psychiatry residency training?

The home base will likely be the VA outpatient clinic, which each resident will do 1-2 full days a week. Other primary sites will include Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello (CL service, and emergency psychiatry), Health West primary care clinics, Idaho State University student health clinic, the Idaho State Hospital, and private practice clinics supervised by faculty.


Electives:  What kind of electives are being developed?

There are a number of elective opportunities. These include the Human Development Center, research, Tele-psychiatry (through VA or Portneuf), Blackfoot (Fort Hall) reservation clinic. Other rotations in development could include the Women’s prison, HIV clinic, Suboxone clinic through Health West, ECT in Idaho Falls. For anything not available in the SE Idaho region, residents may be able to do specialty rotations back in SLC. For 4th years, “Jr. Attending” rotations will also be available. This will likely include both general and geriatric psychiatry. There is also possibly an opportunity to do further rural rotations in other areas of Idaho, and in Montana.


Psychotherapy Training:  How will psychotherapy be organized for the PGY 3-4 years?

Psychotherapy will be integrated into clinics, instead of setting aside a whole half day for only therapy patients. For each day in clinic, the resident will be expected to have one long-term therapy patient that they see weekly (average). We are working with the ISU Psychology department to further strengthen this experience.  We will hire a “Psychotherapy Leader” prior to our first residents moving to Pocatello, (probably a PhD) and they will oversee a wide variety of psychotherapy experiences (different types of therapy, wide range of patients, demonstration psychotherapy, group and individual supervision, other).


Fulfilling Graduation Requirements:  What must be completed in Salt Lake City during the first 2 years before moving to Pocatello?

All child psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, and addiction psychiatry must be completed in Salt Lake City prior to third year. This is due to less availability of board certified CA/ geriatric and addiction psychiatrists in the SE Idaho area. Resident will still be able to have experience in these areas in Pocatello but with general-trained psychiatrists.  Each resident will also be expected to complete a Quality Improvement project during their 2nd year.


Resident Salary/Benefits:  How are Idaho residents paid? What is the salary?

Residents are employed by the University of Utah all four years, and will be paid through direct deposit to the checking accounts on the 7th and 22nd of each month.

Salary for the 2020-21 academic year (typically there are yearly cost-of-living increases)

  • PGY-1 salary = $61,061
  • PGY-2 salary = $63,315
  • PGY-3 salary = $65,697
  • PGY-4 salary = $68,627

Total (Salary plus Benefits) (typically add 27% of salary for benefits)


On-Call Duties:  What will “On-Call” duties look like in Idaho for Idaho track residents?

The first two years of training will be similar for general psychiatry residents, regardless of Idaho-Track status. While all Utah psychiatry residents rotate at many different training sites, all Idaho-Track residents will spend some portion of their time (typically 30%) with our partner academic system at the VA Medical Center (PGY 1-2) and CBOC Clinic in Pocatello (PGY 3-4). Current PGY-3 residents in Utah have the requirement of multiple weeks of supervisory call, supervising junior residents. As there will be no PGY 1-2 residents in Idaho, the current plan is to have PGY-3 residents in Idaho to take an equal amount of call to their colleagues in Utah.  We suspect much of the PGY-3 Idaho call will be from home.  Like residents who continue to train in Salt Lake City, Idaho-Track residents will take call their 3rd year, but not in the PGY-4 (senior) year.


Funding – Safety Net:  What happens if there is a legislative funding crisis years from now?

We don’t see any funding problems in the future, but let’s say worst case scenario – the program faces closure many years from now:  Leadership at Idaho State University and the University of Utah School of Medicine are committed to make sure that each resident training in the program is supported through graduation.  The training program will continue to fund high quality rotations/education. There may be adjustments to training schedules, but we will not leave a resident stranded in the middle of a residency, even in a crisis. 


Health Insurance and Providers:  Can you describe Health Insurance Benefits for residents?

University of Utah health and dental coverage, basic life insurance, and long-term disability insurance will be effective on the resident’s hire date.  Current University of Utah health insurance is with Bluecross/Blueshield.  There are several in-network providers in Idaho.  Residents can go the Regence Bluecross/Blueshield website to identify available Idaho in network providers. 


Benefits Details:  What about other Benefits?

Detailed information about all available benefits will be provided to the residents upon hire, or information may be found on the University of Utah Benefits web site at www.hr.utah.edu/benefits.  

Below is the summary of resident benefits for Fiscal Year 2020-2021:

  • Three weeks (15 working days) of paid annual vacation, and one week (5 working days) of paid annual personal/professional development time which must be scheduled with the approval of the Program Director. Both vacation and personal/professional development time is non-accruing.
  • Choice of health insurance plans, including hospitalization coverage – premium costs are shared between the University of Utah and the trainee for health coverage for the trainee and family.
  • Group dental insurance for trainee and family at a nominal charge per month.
  • Group term life insurance up to the salary amount but not to exceed $25,000 at no charge. Additional life insurance may be purchased by the trainee.
  • Disability insurance for specialty-specific occupation with benefit equal to approximately 66.6% of monthly earnings up to $3,000/month (less benefits from other sources) and built-in cost-of-living rider. Basic policy paid by the University of Utah. Additional individual coverage may be purchased by the trainee.
  • Malpractice insurance is provided by the hospital for professional activities that are an approved part of the training program.
  • Utah Medical Association (UMA) membership provided for all trainees. Membership includes financial counseling and other benefits.
  • Other benefits, such as reduced tuition, bookstore discount, and others as offered to all University employees.

Research:  Can Idaho Track residents do research?

Absolutely. The program will allow remote research with professors/ physicians/ researchers at the University of Utah. Research with ISU adjunct professors/researchers may also be available.


Senior Project:  Do Idaho track residents do a senior project?

Yes. Like the general UT residents, a senior project will be required. However, the focus will be on rural mental health and presentation will be made to educate other general physicians in the SE Idaho area.


Resident Supervision:  How will supervision be done?

Per ACGME requirements, residents will be provided at least 2 hours of faculty preceptorship weekly, one hour which will be individual. This will be a combination of in person, tele-supervision, and phone until the faculty in Idaho is sufficient to provide all supervision in person.  PGY 1-2 residents are closely supervised in person, while PGY 3-4 residents always have supervision readily available, but have more autonomy.


Residents as Teachers:  Will there be teaching opportunities with medical students in Idaho?

The plan is to pair medical students with residents to develop “teaching teams” much like rotations in SLC. This will include medical students from the University of Utah as well as potential medical students on away rotations from other universities. Family practice residents from the ISU Family Medicine Residency rotate at Portneuf Medical Center with Idaho-Track psychiatry residents, including an inpatient psychiatry rotation for family practice.  We hope to have a lot of interaction between the Idaho-Track residents, and medical students, and family practice residents, giving ample opportunities for psychiatry residents to teach.


Moonlighting:  Will “moonlighting” be allowed?

We understand the burden of school debt carried by residents.  We anticipate PGY-3 and PGY-4 residents living in Idaho will need to moonlight.  Moonlighting requires the resident to be in “good standing” with the training program (E.g. not struggling with clinical rotations/in-training exams).  Moonlighting opportunities are now being developed in the Pocatello area, first with Portneuf Hospital.  Typically, our general psychiatry program does not have “on-call” duties for PGY-4 residents, which frees up senior residents for job application/interviews as well as Moonlighting opportunities, to reduce school debt.


Resident Evaluations:  How will residents, faculty, and training sites be evaluated?

Evaluations will be done using MedHub, the University of Utah’s electronic evaluation program.  Both residents and faculty will be given logins to access and complete evaluations.  Residents can see review their Training File or request a copy.  The evaluations are the same used by other general psychiatry residents.  Resident input is very important.  Residents evaluate each faculty supervisor and rotation.  Only “group” summary data of many evaluations are shared with faculty, to allow residents some degree of anonymity.


Workman’s Compensation:  What happens in the rare instance of a resident getting injured on the job?

Residents injured outside of University Hospital while at work should seek care at the hospital or medical facility where the injury occurred. The EMPLOYER'S FIRST REPORT OF INJURY form must be completed for worker's compensation insurance.  The University of Utah GME policy states, “Refer to “A” on how to obtain and process form.  (See “A” below)

“A. The residents working at University Hospital should contact the Work Wellness Center or the Hospital Emergency Room (during "off" hours) for care following a needle stick or any other work-related injury. The resident must fill out the EMPLOYER'S FIRST REPORT OF INJURY FORM. This form, necessary for worker's compensation coverage, may be obtained from the Hospital Emergency Room, the Work Wellness Center, or, online at: http://www.hr.utah.edu/forms/lib/E1.pdf. The form should be returned to the Work Wellness Center. NO CLAIMS WILL BE PAID UNLESS THIS FORM IS COMPLETED”

The Idaho Rural Track Training Coordinator, ISU Family Medicine Clinic, and Portneuf Medical Center will also have copies of this form. 

Elizabeth Botts, MD

Assistant Professor (Clinical) of Psychiatry

Training Director, Idaho Rural Track

Message from the Co-Chiefs

Contact Us

Jaime Christensen Program Manager Phone: 801-585-5387 Email: jaime.christensen@hsc.utah.edu

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