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Doctor affiliated with the University of Montana leaves role after spreading misinformation

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A medical doctor with the University of Montana’s physician training program has concluded his employment with the university after several of his social media posts were flagged for misinformation.

Dr. Justin Buls was employed by the university through its Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana program as the Kalispell site director. There are six resident students based in Kalispell, according to program director Dr. Rob Stenger.

Buls

Dr. Justin Buls

“Dr. Buls’ employment with the Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana concluded yesterday, on Nov. 30,” said UM spokesperson Dave Kuntz. “The decision was mutual.”

Buls was subject to “timeouts” on Facebook for spreading misinformation regarding the COVID pandemic. In one post, he called for Dr. Anthony Fauci to be “executed for the crimes he has committed on humanity,” according to initial reporting by the Daily Montanan.

On his Facebook page, Buls likened mask requirements in schools to child abuse. At least four of his posts within the last year have been flagged by independent fact checkers for false or partly false information.

At one point, Buls’ profile picture on Facebook displayed a swastika made of syringe needles.

After controversy surrounding Buls’ posts surfaced in November, the university distanced itself from his sentiments.

“We expect our faculty, staff and physicians-in-training to act professionally in all settings and provide health care in accordance with the best available scientific evidence,” Kuntz said last month.

The UM program is affiliated with the University of Washington’s Wyoming-Washington-Alaska-Montana-Idaho Family Medicine Residency Network, which also condemned Buls. Dr. Frederick Chen, director of the Family Medicine Residency Network at UW, told the Missoulian last month that it “unequivocally follows” guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in terms of vaccine efficacy and mask use.

“His opinions expressed through Facebook and by any other means regarding the effectiveness of vaccines and masking are solely his own and in no way reflect the beliefs of the WWAMI Family Medicine Residency Network,” Chen said.

Buls confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that he and UM had parted ways.

"I was not fired. I was not let go and I did not resign," Buls said in the written statement. "Both parties involved mutually agreed that the relationship had become untenable."

Buls is the third UM employee to leave this semester amid controversy.

Earlier this fall, Paul Kirgis stepped down from his position as UM law school dean after allegations that students at the school were discouraged from reporting sexual harassment and assault. Kirgis resigned shortly after a student-led walkout in October.

Former computer science professor Rob Smith also resigned from his position this fall after coming under fire for his controversial blog and YouTube channel, where he made troubling statements regarding gender, Muslims, underage girls and individuals who are LGBTQ.

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