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Our members know their states! Learn more about beautiful, unexpected Big Sky Country from our Montana members Terri and Belinda!

Name: Terri Perrigo, 3RNet State Manager
Belinda Begger, 3RNet Administrative Professional II

City, State: Helena MT 

Organization: Montana Hospital Association

How long have you lived in the state? Why do you choose to live there?
Terri:  I've lived in MT for almost 50 years. I chose to live here because my family used to travel from my small hometown in northern Wyoming to Billings MT to shop. It was so exciting, such a big deal and there were no speed limits at the time.  My mom used to set the cruise to 90 in our big old Lincoln Continental and listen to 8-tracks of Tom Jones and/or Englebert Humperdinck. We'd all sing along.   We'd stay in a hotel and eat out. It was so fun. I always wanted to move there. I stay because I've raised a family here and continue to love the wide-open spaces; the mountains, rivers, and streams; shopping in Billings, and the backroads of Montana.

Belinda: I've lived in Montana for almost 40 years. I initially arrived in Montana because my dad got his first civilian job in Helena after he retired from the Army.  After a short stint in North Dakota, I returned to Montana when I married my husband and lived here ever since. We love this State and wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

How is 3RNet impacting Montana?    
The new automated weekly candidate referrals function has resulted in almost 6000 candidate referrals made to eleven MHA Connections full members since January 2020. It has also increased the number of Montana facilities posting and the number of MT job opportunities posted.

What are the best cultural events that happen in Montana?   
Pow-wows, rodeos, historical re-enactment sites, county fairs, farmers markets, craft fairs, and festivals. In the bigger cities also symphonies, art museums, theatres, university-sponsored events, etc. 

Why should a health professional choose Montana over the surrounding states?
If they like the great outdoors: mountains, rivers, hiking, camping, hunting, boating, fishing, mountain biking, trail riding, and great sight-seeing there is no place better than Montana.  

If they like good quality of life where they can raise their kids with good schools, parks, churches, friends, and a hometown feel, Montana's small communities are the best.  One to ten thousand people may not sound like a lot, but those places are alive—they have an active downtown, they have an economy, they have hospitals, city/county government, tourism, etc. The bigger cities are great too; and it is not unusual to see your neighbors from your small town in the big city doing some shopping, dining, and entertaining just like you!

What loan repayment programs does Montana have? Anything that makes those programs unique?
We have the Montana State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) which provides loan repayment assistance to healthcare professionals providing outpatient healthcare services in designated HPSA's at approved NHSC sites.  

We also have the Montana Rural Physician Incentive Program (MRPIP) that provides loan repayment assistance to physicians who serve in rural communities or populations that are medically underserved. 

We also have the Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program (MINIP) which provides loan repayment assistance to registered nurses employed by the Montana State Hospital or the Montana State Prison. 

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in Montana?
Montana is not a big user of the J-1 Visa Waiver program.  We typically don't even use ten of our Conrad 30s.

Our healthcare professionals valued in Montana?
Yes, they are valued. I don't have specific examples but I do know most of the small critical access hospitals (25 beds or less) I visit have employee recognition boards in the hallways and newsletters, special parking, prizes, etc. where they recognize their workers. I also know how much healthcare workers and facilities mean to residents of small communities, not only in economic terms but in availability and quality of care.

I also believe Montanans value the big hospitals and the economic benefit and healthcare expertise they bring to those communities.  Montana has a few regional healthcare centers people are referred to from all over the state for medical procedures and treatment.  

Why do people travel to Montana?
Lately, we've been overwhelmed with people traveling to Montana to try to escape COVID. Our lakes, vacation rentals, campgrounds, national forests, and highways are packed full of out-of-staters. Way more than usual, and a lot of brand new boats, motorhomes, toy haulers, and trucks are bringing them in. Houses are being bought sight-unseen within 24 hours of listing by out-of-state buyers.  Facilities say they've had more interest than usual in employment. They say people want to leave wherever they are and come to Montana where COVID isn't so bad and there are big open spaces to social distance.  

In normal times though, people come to Montana to see Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. They come to fly fish on our blue-ribbon trout streams, hike, and camp in our majestic mountains, hunt big game and birds, boat on our beautiful lakes and enjoy the great outdoors.

What sports teams does Montana have?  
The University of Montana Grizzlies and Montana State University Bobcats are the two main university teams. There are many other community college teams supported as well. There are no professional sports teams here. 

What is your favorite local food?
There are a lot of local favorites I like. German cabbage burgers, Indian fry bread, breaded and fried rocky mountain oysters, walleye, funnel cake, Butte pasties, Flathead cherries, Lincoln MT jerky, pigs roasted in a pit, Norwegian lefse, Greek gyros, Montana huckleberries, and scrumptious prime rib to name a few.

What is Montana best known for?
Probably Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale.  

What is the biggest misconception about Montana?

A few continually come up.  No disrespect meant to anyone or anything by my comments here!

Visitors think we are "cowboys and Indians" like in the John Wayne westerns. 

Visitors think they can get anywhere in the state in a couple of hours.     

Visitors think Montanans are still behind the times regarding technology. 

Visitors are surprised at the lack of cell/internet coverage in parts of our state.

Visitors think the nice bison/elk/bear will be friendly and want to be in their selfie. 

What are the biggest industries in Montana?
Agriculture, Tourism, Healthcare, Forestry, Energy, Manufacturing and Mining

How is the weather/climate in Montana?
Usually, it is wet in the spring, hot and dry in the summer and early fall, and frostbite cold in the late fall and winter.

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