Montana, one of the most sparsely populated states in the country, needs more rural healthcare providers. According to the Montana Healthcare Workforce, just one of Montana's 56 counties is considered urban. The remaining counties are rural counties that often lack sufficient numbers of primary healthcare providers. Twenty percent of the state's nurse practitioners currently practice in rural areas, but more are needed.
The Montana Healthcare Workforce provides information and support for nurses (and other healthcare workers) who want to advance their education. The organization also works to promote and expand graduate-level educational opportunities to working nurses. Financial support is available through the federal Nurse Education Loan Repayment program, which may repay a portion of a student's loans in exchange for essential service. MSN graduates who work as nurse faculty members or at certain rural clinics, hospitals or ambulatory centers may qualify for partial loan repayment.
Professional organizations for Montana's MSN-prepared and advanced practice nurses include the Montana Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the Montana Nurses' Association Council on Advanced Practice.
MSN programs for Montana nurses include:
- Montana State University. The MSN programs at Montana State give students a strong background in rural healthcare. Students are taught specifically about the healthcare needs and challenges of a rural population, and clinicals are often completed in rural settings. MSN courses are offered primarily online via phone or videoconferencing.
- Georgetown University. Though located in Washington, D.C., Georgetown University offers nurse practitioner programs that are accessible to nurses in Montana. Classes are web-based, and Georgetown faculty help students arrange clinical experiences close to home.