The state of Montana is an ideal location to get your start in rural and remote locum tenens work. If you’re interested in dipping your toes into locums work, you’re likely looking for shorter assignments in a location with easy travel access. In this article, we will illustrate what you can expect on a locums assignment in Montana, and lay out some steps you can take to become qualified for Montana locum jobs.
The state of Montana is a simple day’s flight from anywhere in the contiguous US, and assignments there range anywhere from a couple of days to a few months in duration. We also tend to schedule the same provider to return to locations many times if the fit is good. In most Montana locations, you will have plenty of RNs, CNAs, and lab techs on-site for support.
The accessibility, the short duration of assignments, and the great support staff are all great reasons to consider Montana for your first locums job, but the #1 reason our locum providers return to Montana, again and again, is for the people they meet. If you’re interested in practicing meaningful medicine, there is no better place to do it than small-town Montana. You will build strong relationships with amazing colleagues and the grateful patients you care for. Of course, the reason most people want to visit Montana is its vast beauty. You will not be disappointed.
The Montana Landscape
Montana is a vast state, stretching across the Mountain West. The state’s Western and Eastern regions are distinctly split by the Rocky Mountain range that runs out of Alberta Canada down through Montana and Yellowstone National Park. In the Rockies and to the west, forests and mountains dominate the landscape with some of the most dramatic views in the world. The Western region of Montana sees many tourists every year and has become very developed in the past few years. Immediately east of the Rockies lies the beginning of the Great Plains that stretch far past Montana’s eastern border with the Dakotas. Central and Eastern Montana is ranch country. Montana is often known by the slogan, “Big Sky Country,” which can be seen first-hand through the large expanses of land and lack of buildings in most of the state. Most towns in this part of the country are very small with wide distances between them, hours apart from each other in some cases.
Locum Tenens in Rural Montana
Many small towns in Montana depend on locum tenens healthcare providers to meet their staffing needs. Where some facilities in more populated parts of the state would depend on full-time providers with occasional fill-in from locums, many towns in rural Montana simply do not have sufficient staff living in town. For that reason, many WMS providers are pleased to rotate through the same communities over and over through the years and develop strong relationships with their patients. Our company specializes in facilitating these relationships, where the locum providers get the flexibility they want without ever feeling like a transitory substitute. At the same time, our clients get to keep their hospitals fully staffed with the absolute best medical providers available!
Types of Healthcare Facilities Locum Tenens Work at in Rural Montana
While Montana has every type of major healthcare facility in less rural areas like Missoula, Billings, and Bozeman, in smaller towns and villages, you’ll typically find positions available in three main types of facilities: critical access hospitals, rural health clinics, and clinics on Indian Reservations.
Critical Access Hospitals
Because Montana is so vast, much of its health infrastructure relies on critical access hospitals (CAH) that are equipped with an emergency room and a small number of inpatient beds. These critical access hospitals are typically the one-stop shop for all medical care for patients in that community, and they will travel to nearby cities for any specialized care they need. At Wilderness Medical Staffing, we specialize in sourcing well-rounded providers who have a high level of emergency medicine experience to staff these critical access hospitals. We are the premier Montana staffing agency for work in critical access hospitals.
If you are interested in practicing meaningful medicine with us in Montana as a locum provider, you should know what qualifications are required of medical providers in that context. First, you will need your Montana state professional license as either a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or physician.
Second, you will need at least 2 years of experience in emergency medicine. If you have experience working in rural or remote emergency settings, even better! Every CAH in Montana will require you to keep up your BLS, ACLS, PALS, and ATLS lifesaving certifications. (Learn more about all of these certifications here.) Unlike some other states, the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) certification is required. (We sometimes host ATLS courses, so be sure to talk to our team if you’re interested in taking one.)
Once you meet those criteria, you will be qualified for a Montana job opening for a CAH assignment! These locum assignments tend to be very short and flexible. The duration of assignments range anywhere from a few days to a few weeks at a time. For that reason, pursuing Montana locum jobs at a critical access hospital is a great choice for those medical providers who aren’t yet ready to jump into locum tenens work full-time.
Rural Health Clinics
Sometimes, CAH facilities will oversee rural health clinics. These clinics focus on primary care and they must be located in rural, underserved areas of the country. The staffing usually consists of APPs working with physicians, with an APP staffed at least 50% of the time.
To qualify for these positions, you’ll need to meet most of the same requirements that you’d need working in a CAH, but you may not need emergency-specific experience, depending on the facility. Since many of these facilities primarily focus on primary care, pediatric experience is sometimes preferred.
Indian Reservations are governed by Native American tribal nations, which are one of the populations in American with the largest disparities in healthcare. At Wilderness Medical Staffing, we place healthcare providers at multiple Indian Reservations in Montana, which helps to bridge the gap between Native Americans and high-quality healthcare.
These sites tend to involve more clinic-only primary care positions than critical access hospitals, and some positions are at school-based clinics, giving providers an opportunity to work in pediatric medicine, as well. If you have experience in outpatient primary care or family practice, these kinds of positions may be a great fit for you!
There is rarely a better opportunity to do life with an indigenous community and make beautiful connections. Assignments at Indian Reservations tend to be much longer, with most facilities in these contexts requesting a minimum 3-month commitment. If you’re looking for a Montana job opening and have the desire to commit to multiple months of consistent work, locums work on an Indian Reservation is an ideal choice!
Additional Documentation to Work as a Locum Tenens in Rural Montana
To be qualified for any of our jobs in Montana, you will need to be licensed in that state. You can find a licensing guide for Montana on our “Helpful Tools” page. Your license will typically be active within about 4-5 weeks from the day you submit your application. If you’re a physician assistant, you will also need a supervisory agreement with your collaborating physician before starting work. No need to worry about that as you apply for licensure though. Our company will organize the supervisory agreement and cover the cost of it once you’re confirmed for your first assignment with us.
Montana’s easy licensing process, low cost, and fast processing time are just one more reason to consider working there to start your locums journey!
Montana Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate (ICEC)
When practicing medicine as a locum tenens provider with WMS, you are operating as an independent contractor. The state of Montana requires that all independent contractors have a certificate of exemption for workers’ compensation. The ICEC is Montana’s certificate of exemption and essentially works like a business license. This is Montana State law and the ICEC must be obtained before you can begin working with Wilderness Medical Staffing. You will need to complete an ICEC application, get it notarized, and send it to the State of Montana. When you sign on for your first Montana assignment, our operations team will work with you to secure that before you start work.
Wilderness Medical Staffing specializes in staffing locum tenens providers in rural and remote areas. That is why we are unquestionably the ideal company to turn to for locum jobs in Montana. If you’re interested in escaping the noise of city life or want to work in a warm community where you can see the impact you have, please email us at [email protected] or peruse our job board to see what Montana has to offer! We look forward to hearing from you when you are ready for your next adventure.