Top Montana Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs
Montana is expecting a nursing shortage that is significantly affecting the ability to deliver good quality nursing care within the state. Various specific problems exist in the state that all need to be addressed in order to meet the growing demand for healthcare amongst the residents. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nationwide nursing shortage will be 19% by 2020 if trends continue, and Montana is set to meet if not surpass this.
One of the biggest problems in Montana is that there are insufficient nurse educators. Although the three schools accredited with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing offer highly competitive courses, the waiting lists are long. Some 300 qualified applicants were unable to enrol and many others have been on waiting lists for well over a year.
The biggest impact of the shortage of nursing staff is found in the rural communities in Montana. There are some 55 medically underserved areas in the state, affecting 51.9% of the population. Not only do the people in the more rural communities of Montana find it difficult to attract high quality nursing staff, those who live in these areas who have an interest in the nursing profession are finding it difficult to find degree programs that are suitable for them.
Montana is addressing these issues and has put several excellent initiatives in place. Candidates for pre-licensure nursing are gaining more opportunities to find training, often by traveling to neighboring states, which is being supported by Montana’s government. Additionally, more and more online programs are being made available as well.
At present, 30% of the healthcare workforce in the state is made up of registered nurses. However, their average age shows that they will soon be reaching retirement age and they will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Additionally, insufficient nurses are Advanced Practice Nurses, holding a master’s degree. This means that the job outlook in Montana, particularly for those with a high degree of education, is very good.
Unfortunately, the average salary for a registered nurse in Montana is just $54,000, which is well below the national average. But it should be noted that those with the highest degrees of education enjoy much higher salaries. Furthermore, initiatives are being put in place to make the career more interesting, including bonus programs and options of having student debt repaid. There is also a strong variation in salary depending on where in Montana the nurse is employed.