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We've got another great set of insights from a 3RNet member! This time, Terri Perrigo shares some of what she knows and loves about her home state, Montana.

Name: Terri Perrigo

City, State: Helena, Montana

Organization: Montana Hospital Association

How long have you lived in Montana? Why do you choose to live there? 

I am a fifth generation Montanan. My family homesteaded here before Montana earned its statehood. I choose to live here over other states because I really appreciate the open skies, the rugged beauty of the landscape, and seeing deer and other wild life on a daily basis (I live a few miles outside of town). I enjoy some of the many outdoor activities (hiking, skiing, canoeing, scuba diving – yes! Lake & river diving and trail running). It truly is a way of life! There are no other states that compare. Many of my coworkers have lived in Montana for 30+ years. 

What are the best cultural events that happen in Montana? Montana has a multitude of cultural events! Rodeos, state & county fairs, collegiate and high school sporting events, Pow Wows, Mid-week community get togethers with bands & vendors in the parks, Farmers Markets, Music Festivals, Shakespeare in the Park, fishing tournaments, and group wilderness hikes are just a few!

A common favorite is the Chokecherry Festival that takes place in Lewistown, Montana. Helena has an amazing symphony that hosts The Symphony Under the Stars which is a great community event. There are also a lot of music festivals around the state! The Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulfur Springs attracts crowds from all over!

Why should a health professional choose Montana over surrounding states?
Once you are part of a Montana community, you are part of the community “family”.  Montanans look after each other and are generally kind people, ready to lend a hand. If you want to be involved in the community there are always opportunities to do so – our small rural/frontier community events practically run on volunteers. There are so many outdoor activities that a person can enjoy: from hiking to fishing to mountain biking. There is a little bit of everything for everyone. Even if you are not really into the outdoors, Montana has an amazing music and art scene. In small hospitals in Montana, you have the opportunity to be a jack-of-all-trades. The job is constantly evolving and no two days are alike. 

What loan repayment programs does Montana have? Anything that makes those programs unique? Montana has numerous loan repayment programs available to healthcare providers. The Montana Rural Provider Incentive Program (MRPIP) and State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) are two loan repayment programs for providers who are interested in working in areas with healthcare provider shortages. For more information see: https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/primarycare/SLRP. Additionally, Montana has 384 NHSC approved sites for providers interested in applying to the NHSC. See: https://connector.hrsa.gov/connector/. Most of Montana’s counties are currently HPSA designated, as a result the NURSE Corp program is an additional program available for registered nurses and nurse practitioners. 

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in your state? Montana welcomes both Primary Care Providers and Specialists to work in health professional areas. Each year the window opens for the 30 Slots (10 for Specialists and 20 for Primary Care) on October 1. Providers are required to provide face-to-face service in a Primary Care HPSA. For HPSA information see: https://datawarehouse.hrsa.gov/tools/analyzers/HpsaFind.aspx. For more information about Montana’s J-1 program see https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/primarycare/j1-visa-program.  

Are healthcare professionals valued in Montana? Healthcare professionals are extremely valued in Montana. They are welcomed into the community and the community truly relies on them. 


Why do people travel to Montana? I have hosted meetings for out-of-state participants and everyone comments on the beauty and openness of the state, as well as the friendliness of the people. The beauty of Montana is unlike any other. There is such geographical diversity in the state from the Rocky Mountains in the west, the plains in the northeast and the badlands in the southeast. Every small town has something unique to offer and the people are second to none. The recreation opportunities are abundant and include hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, biking, boating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, ice fishing, four-wheeling, and more! 


What sports teams does Montana have? Montana is a huge supporter of our collegiate and high school sports. We have the longest standing rivalry west of the Mississippi - Montana State University vs University of Montana! We also have baseball, hockey, roller-derby and more! There are four Montana baseball teams in the short-season Single A Pioneer league. The Great Falls Voyagers are affiliated with the Chicago White Sox. The Missoula Osprey are affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Billings Mustangs are affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds. The Helena Brewers are affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers.

What is your favorite local food? Montana has fantastic food! The Butte pasty is hands-down my favorite! It is hard to beat a Montana beef steak though! Another local favorite is the Staggering Ox which is a sandwich that originated in Helena and has expanded across the state. There are also fantastic local coffee shops and Helena has amazing Italian restaurants!

What is Montana best known for? Montana is best known for our recreational activities, national parks, and agriculture.

What is the biggest misconception about Montana? There are many misconceptions about Montana. Many people believe that we do not have electricity or running water and that we ride horses everywhere. This is just simply not true. We do have running water, we do have Wi-Fi and we do not ride our horses to work. Our hospitals also provide exceptional care and truly invest in the wellbeing of their patients. I find that people think the rural-ness of the state somehow denies us of modern technologies.  Not true!

What are the biggest industries in Montana? The biggest industries in Montana are agriculture, tourism, forestry, and healthcare.

How is the weather/climate in Montana? We have all four seasons with drastic temperature differences. You need to be prepared to handle all four. Spring is short and sweet with rain and sunshine, with grasses and trees blooming and the frequent afternoon thunderstorm. Winters can be brutal (below zero degrees, lots of snow & lasts up to six months), but Montana embraces this season with skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing and other winter activities. Summer is hot and short without a lot of precipitation, but relief is easily found among the numerous lakes and forests. Fall is cool and beautiful with the bounty of changing colors and elk bugling. The weather can be extreme and change pretty often. But living in the northwest, I am grateful that we do not have cockroaches, blackfly, chiggers etc. or high humidity which can exaggerate how hot or cold it “feels” versus the actual temperature.

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