Montana’s physician shortage: U.S. Census projections indicate that we will have the country’s 4th oldest population by 2020. As our state ages, our health care needs continue to increase.
- 20,370 Montana residents live in counties without primary care physicians (about 2 percent of the population).
- 10 counties in Montana are without any physicians (MT Healthcare Workforce Statewide Strategic Plan, 2011).
- 52 of Montana’s 56 counties are classified as medically-underserved and health professional shortage areas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Nurses remain in high demand: Nurses are at the top of the list of Montana’s employment projections (2010-2020), with the highest projected worker needs.
- Montana will be short more than 2,100 nurses by 2020.
Nursing is important to the economy of Montana. It pays well and is the largest sector of the healthcare workforce. Nursing education programs are at capacity, and hundreds of qualified applicants are turned away every year. Schools report insufficient funding to hire new faculty as one of the biggest obstacles to filling vacancies. It is critical that schools have sufficient funds to hire the qualified faculty they need to expand capacity. Additional challenges with hiring faculty include:
- Aging demographic (average age 53)
- Lack of qualified applicants
- Montana salaries not competitive
- Nursing faculty need a master’s in nursing, which cannot be obtained in MT.