Flathead Valley is a magnet for adventurers and outdoorspeople of all stripes, and as the area’s popularity continues to bloom, this means more people out and recreating or living here.
Those basic facts are the main reasons Bozeman-based Best Practice Medicine, a company that focuses on teaching emergency medicine, has decided to open a new branch of its operations here: Where there are people, there is a need for effective emergency medical training.
“The need for this kind of training and education and the method that we deliver it in is a niche market, but it’s a very deep market,” said Best Practice Medicine CEO Ben King. “There’s an absence of really high-quality training and education.”
Best Practice Medicine opened a new campus location in Columbia Falls, staffed and ready to teach everything from basic safesitter-babysitting and stop-the-bleed courses to highly specialized critical care for those with 10 to 20 years of experience, and everything in between.
The key to BPM’s approach is staffing its programs with working clinicians or those who have extensive professional experience in the field of emergency medicine and an understanding of how to gear classes to best teach adults.
“Virtually everyone that works on our team is currently working clinically or has an extremely deep experience level and they are highly trained not just in the clinical expertise but in the adult learning pedagogy,” King said.
Brodie Verworn, the senior paramedic on staff at the Big Mountain Fire Department, will manage day-to-day operations at the Columbia Falls location for BPM.
“When Ben (King), Loren (Deichman), and Joe (Poole) started Best Practice Medicine, one of the main factors was that, in their experiences, they were seeing good clinicians making poor decisions due to a lack of quality education available to them,” Verworn said in a prepared statement. “This issue isn’t just localized to the Gallatin Valley — it exists everywhere. This local Flathead campus will help us serve even more people and improve and save countless lives in the process.”
BPM started five years ago in Bozeman, when the three founders were all practicing air medical critical-care providers and clinical educators. In many ways, the educational material used to train and recertify their cohort of professionals were outmoded or didn’t include the information that could help many emergency situations run more smoothly.
“For the most part we’ve been using the same techniques and the same teaching concepts as we use to train 14-year-old lifeguards, and we take that and we’re training paramedics with that,” King said. “We were disappointed that we weren’t really getting the access to the training that we felt we needed.”
“We hire — and it takes us a long time to hire and find them — people who have both the clinical chops and credibility and the adult learning and education knowledge,” he continued. “The craft of live-taught, meaningful education taught by mentors is being lost.”
That means building the ideal staff member. Currently, new hires start off in apprenticeships with mentors, and then they become the type of educators who are open to changing how they do things. This is a key aspect of BPM’s style, King said, because if there’s a better method, it should be learned.
“The environment that we’re in creates an opportunity for us to decide to do it differently,” King said. “People of all kinds of experience and skills of practice are capable of deciding to change what they’re doing.”
BPM has had a presence in the Flathead for a few years, though not the brick-and-mortar presence it has now. Previously, the company worked with a nonprofit called Simulation in Motion-Montana Inc., which operates three mobile simulation labs capable of delivering mobile classes.
They hadn’t planned on expanding a branch up here so soon, but the demand for the classes is there, King said.
“It’s a big deal for a company like ours that’s still very young and new to open a second location,” he said. “We’re really excited about what this means for our growth as an organization and for employing and providing career paths for people who are currently practicing.”
Class registration for Best Practice Medicine is currently open. For more information, visit www.bestpracticemedicine.com.