UMW grad Justinn Marshall was accepted into the University of Washington's regional medical education program.

Her father has dealt with chronic illness most of her life, and Marshall has spent a great deal of time with him in hospital rooms since she was a young girl.

Her connection to medicine is personal and now medicine will turn into a career path that she hopes will bring her full circle back to her rural Montana roots.

Her father has dealt with chronic illness most of her life, and Marshall has spent a great deal of time with him in hospital rooms since she was a young girl.

The Saco, Mont., native and fifth-year University of Montana Western student recently was accepted into the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI) regional medical education program with the University of Washington School of Medicine. 

“Being around my dad and being in hospitals a lot sparked my interest in medicine,” said Marshall.

WWAMI is a partnership between the University of Washington and the participating states to educate a fixed number of medical students from and for their state. As part of being accepted to the WWAMI program, Marshall also will be a TRUST scholar. TRUST stands for the Targeted Rural and Underserved Track. She will go through a special curriculum designed to connect students with underserved communities.

“Since I grew up in Saco, I saw firsthand how underserved rural communities can be and there is a physician shortage in those areas,” said Marshall. “It can be a huge challenge in a small community to access quality healthcare.”

Marshall is currently majoring in biology and human and health performance at Montana Western and will graduate this spring. In her five years at UMW, she has had a 4.0 and competed for the rodeo team in breakaway tying, team roping and goat tying. She made it to the College National Finals Rodeo twice.

She attended Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont., before transferring to Montana Western her sophomore year for a variety of reasons. Her sister and brother-in-law had graduated from UMW, and Marshall was attracted to the block schedule.

“I really liked having one class at a time and the small class sizes,” said Marshall. “It’s been very nice to get to know my professors. Also as a student athlete, the block schedule makes it much easier to plan my day.”

Marshall said she started to really consider medical school after one of her professors approached her.

“Dr. Steve Mock told me he really saw my potential to be a physician in class one day,” said Marshall. “After that, I started researching medical school and what it would take to get accepted. Dr. Mike Morrow also helped do research and really encouraged me to apply for med school.”

Marshall also did 100 hours of shadowing at Dillon’s hospital while she attended school to cement her certainty about pursuing a career in medicine.

Morrow said Marshall is on of UMW’s most talented biology students.

“She has an amazing ability to balance her academics, collegiate athletics, volunteer activities, family and active social life,” said Morrow. “Not many students can juggle so many activities at once. Of course, this is why Justinn was accepted into the prestigious Montana WWAMI program. Justinn's tremendous abilities and the high level biology education that she has obtained here at Montana Western have given her the tools necessary to succeed in this very demanding field.”

She will spend the first two years of her medical education in Bozeman, Mont., attending WWAMI classes in partnership with Montana State University. After that, Marshall will complete two years of clinical rotations mostly in Montana before completing a four-year residency. 

After completing the WWAMI program, Marshall then hopes to return to rural Montana and give back to communities who inspired her to embark on her medical career in the first place.

“Her preparation and hard work have been recognized by the WWAMI selection committee and I couldn't be prouder of Justinn,” said Morrow. “I am very excited to see where medical school and her future career as a physician take her.”