Healthcare continues to be a growth industry in Montana, even as other sectors of the economy slow down. Primary care providers are desperately needed in the rural parts of the state. Almost half - 47 percent - of Montana's population reside in rural counties, but many rural counties lack adequate primary healthcare coverage. Of Montana's 56 counties, 40 are officially considered Health Professional Shortage Areas; 12 counties have no primary care physicians at all.
Nationally, 20 percent of all nurse practitioners practice in rural areas, so it's possible that NPs will provide primary care coverage in the medically underserved areas. Many of Montana's 500 plus nurse practitioners already live and work in rural areas, but more are definitely needed.
The average annual salary for a nurse practitioner in Montana ranges from $77,000 to $81,000.
Nurse practitioner programs for Montana nurses include:
- Montana State University. The master's-level family nurse practitioner program at Montana State includes a special emphasis on rural nursing, issues of rurality and rural healthcare systems. The program can be completed in two or four years.
- Georgetown University. Though located in Washington, D.C., Georgetown University offers two online NP programs that are accessible to nurses in Idaho. Students can select either a Family Nurse Practitioner program or the Nurse Midwifery/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner program. Classes are web-based, and Georgetown faculty work with students to arrange clinical experiences close to home.
- Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing. The Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing is physically located in Kentucky, but the school, a leader in distance education, has long helped graduates become nursing leaders within their home communities. Frontier offers a master-level, community-based Family Nurse Practitioner program that provides a strong emphasis on the business of primary care. The school also offers DNP-level Family Nurse Practitioner and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner programs.