BUTTE, Mont. – Today Governor Steve Bullock was joined by Montana Tech Chancellor Donald Blackketter, Montana Department of Labor & Industry Commissioner Pam Bucy and Montana Tech Director of Nursing Karen VanDaveer for a tour of their nursing program, which recently added a four-year nursing degree. The tour was followed by a roundtable discussion on efforts to prepare Montana students for the high-paying jobs of the growing health care industry.
“Montana’s health care industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds and as a result is creating more high-wage jobs for our students,” said Governor Bullock. “In the coming years we will see thousands of new high wage jobs being added to this industry, which will only strengthen Montana’s already vibrant economy.”
Montana’s health care industry is one of the state’s fastest growing (2.8% annually since 1990) and is expected to continue rapid job growth in the future as Montana’s aging population continues to demand more healthcare services and Montana’s overall population grows. Employment projections produced by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (MT DLI) suggest that the industry will add roughly 1,300 jobs every year until 2024.
Nurses will be in particularly high demand, with over 700 openings per year for registered nurses, nursing assistants, and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. These are good paying Montana jobs with an average annual salary for a registered nurse at $61,810.
“With a growing demand for skilled workers in the health care industry, we must prepare today’s students for the high-paying jobs of the future,” said Governor Bullock.
At the roundtable, Governor Bullock and Commissioner Bucy discussed the early successes of the HealthCARE Montana Program. HealthCARE Montana is a collaborative project to train, recruit, and retain healthcare professionals throughout the state, based on ongoing input from the healthcare industry regarding their workforce needs.
Through the project, nearly 100 nursing and allied health faculty from Montana’s two-year and four-year colleges have come together with Montana’s healthcare industry employers to completely redesign this State’s healthcare curriculum. This will lead to the creation of a common nursing curriculum at 8 two-year colleges including two tribal colleges.
HealthCARE Montana is also increasing opportunities for on-the-job training by developing healthcare apprenticeships across the state in both urban and rural hospitals, and clinics. In addition, the Montana Department of Labor & Industry and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education are refining standards for specialty nurse aide apprenticeships in geriatrics and dementia care due to strong employer interest.
The HealthCARE Montana Program can be accessed at www.HealthCAREMontana.org.