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Our members know their states! Learn what makes the blue skies and broad spaces of Montana the best from our member, Terri!

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 have lived in Montana for over 40 years. I grew up in northern Wyoming and moved to Billings, Montana, the “big city”, when I finished high school. I got a great education at both MSU-Billings (formerly Eastern Montana College) and UM in Missoula.  

I will never leave Montana. The lifestyle is casual and the people are unpretentious. There are lots of wide-open spaces and blue sky. I enjoy the western life—from ranching to farming to rodeos to county fairs and everything in-between. I take advantage of Montana’s great outdoor recreation opportunities and do a lot of hiking, camping, fishing, boating, hunting, and skiing. There is a lot of history here: Lewis & Clark; Butte America; gold, silver and copper mining; settlers arriving by steamboat on the Missouri River; wars with native people trying to protect their homeland, and cattle drives. This is a short list: it goes on and on. There is also a lot of cultural diversity, and I enjoy visiting our numerous Indian reservations working with tribal members and their families. Montana schools are great and the quality of life here is outstanding. Montana people, including the kids, have a good work ethic. You do not have to drive far to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban communities; and likewise, you do not have to drive far to get to an urban community to take in some shopping, fine dining and cultural events. My kids were born and raised in Montana, as were my grandkids; and they all still live here. Montana is my home.  

How is 3RNet impacting Montana? 

3RNet impacts Montana by providing a free nationwide job-posting site for our healthcare facilities, many do not have resources for outside recruiters or journal advertising. 3RNet registrants can apply for jobs they may not know about otherwise. It gives our facilities nationwide exposure. It also allows Montana workers to see what healthcare jobs are available around the state and in others. 3RNet is one of the main sourcing tools used in my organization, and most candidates I refer to member facilities are from 3RNet. A number of 3RNet candidates have been hired by Montana facilities. Also, 3RNet provides resources for employers regarding recruitment and retention, and many of our healthcare facilities have taken advantage of the online training provided through the 3RNet Recruiting and Retention Academy. 

What are the best cultural events that happen in Montana? 

Powwows, Sweet Pea Festival and Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, Butte’s Montana Folk Festival, the Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Western Music Rendezvous in Lewistown, rodeos, Shakespeare in the Parks, Farmers Markets, city band concerts, symphonies, winter carnivals at ski resorts, Festival of Nations in Red Lodge.       

Why should a health professional choose Montana over surrounding states?

Because of the quality of life and outdoor recreation opportunities; and because they will become valuable members of the communities and healthcare facilities they live in and work for. 

What loan repayment programs does Montana have? Anything that makes those programs unique?

Montana offers a variety of loan repayment programs to incentivize healthcare providers to practice in our beautiful state. The Montana State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), which reflects the National Health Corps Service’s (NHSC) rules, offers awards of up to $30,000 towards student loan debt in return for a two-year commitment at an NHSC approved site. The program opens annually on October 1, and closes on December 31. A list of eligible healthcare provider types, NHSC approved sites and the application can be located at https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/primarycare. Each year approximately nine new awards are issued.

Additional programs specific to Montana include the Montana Rural Provider Incentive Program (MRPIP) and the Montana Institutional Nurse Incentive Program ( MINIP). For more information about how M.D.s and D.O.s can apply to the MRPIP program see https://mus.edu/Prepare/Pay/Loans/MRPIP.asp. The MINIP focuses on assisting full-time registered nurses employed by the MT State Hospital or MT State Prison. Find more information about the MINIP at:   https://mus.edu/Prepare/Pay/Loans/MINIP.asp

Montana has 203 NHSC approved sites for primary care providers to work at and apply to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program. Many of the areas face significant shortages and have competitive HPSA designation scores. 

The Montana Primary Care Office serves as a go to contact for loan repayment programs and HPSA scores. Contact the Montana Primary Care Office at 406-444-3934 or email at bkincheloe@mt.gov.

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in Montana? 

Montana welcomes 10 specialists and 20 primary care specialists to practice in HPSA designated areas each year. Rarely do Montana’s Conrad 30 slots fill up and exclude interested providers. Nearly every county in Montana is a HPSA designated area. See https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/primarycare/-shortage-area-designations for more information. Montana has over 48 hospitals with wonderful support networks eager to welcome new providers in their communities. For more information about the J-1 Visa Waiver Program Guidance, contact the Montana Primary Care Office at 406-444-39354 or email at bkincheloe@mt.gov. 

Why do people travel to Montana?

To see Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, camp, hunt and fish, visit family and go to college.      

What sports teams does Montana have?

Montana does not have any professional sports teams. However, Montana does have a great rivalry between the university sports teams from MSU Bozeman (go Cats) and UM Missoula (go Griz); and since many Montanans are alumni from these schools, the stadiums are always full and lively for these events.

What is your favorite local food?

Indian tacos and fry bread, trout and walleye, steak and prime rib, cabbage burgers, fresh corn on the cob, Rocky Mountain Oysters, Flathead cherries, Wheat Montana cinnamon rolls, huckleberries, and always a pasty (pass’ tee) from Butte.

What is Montana best known for?

Yellowstone Park, wildlife, Glacier Park, Evil Knievel, Custer’s Last Stand, beautiful scenery, Missouri River, less than 1 million people total, sapphires, silver and gold mining. 

What is the biggest misconception about Montana?

That it is OK to get close to wildlife in national parks and forests to take pictures, pet them, etc. Every year people get gored by buffalo, attacked by moose and elk, and eaten and/or mauled by bears because they got too close. Also…Native Americans do not live in tepees.  

What are the biggest industries in Montana?

Livestock and agriculture, healthcare, travel and tourism, timber and mining. 

How is the weather/climate in Montana? 

Cold winter, hot late summer and early fall; and when we get spring and early summer, it rains, snows, hails, gets to 90 degrees, etc. Our weather is unpredictable. We get a lot of snow, and below zero temperatures are the norm. We do not really have tornado or hurricane activity, but we do have forest fires and floods.

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