For healthcare providers who want meaningful work in a beautiful setting, Western Montana is an ideal destination for locum tenens assignments. This article is the second of our “Locum Tenens: Montana by Region” series, designed to provide insight into the areas that we staff. Read on to learn about travel in Western Montana, a must-work destination for locum tenens who are interested in rural and remote assignments.
Western Montana is a sought-after destination for locum tenens providers for numerous compelling reasons. From almost anywhere in the state you will see prominent mountain ranges reaching towards the sky and beautiful forests expanding for hundreds of miles. Wonderful towns with many amenities and impressive restaurants are spread across the region, along with state-of-the-art medical facilities to provide outstanding care to every patient.
Why You Should Work in Western Montana
Western Montana can be a great place for healthcare workers to work as locum tenens providers for several reasons. The first reason is the phenomenal flexibility you will find in the length of locum assignments. Some jobs in Western Montana are as short as a couple of days, others last as long as 3-6 months. No matter what timeframe or duration of work you are looking for, there are options in Montana.
The second reason to work in Western Montana is the communities. Beautiful views in every town, so close to nature and working with some of the kindest people you will ever meet. Our providers who have the privilege of working in Montana often make life-long relationships in these communities.
Finally, the most obvious reason to work in Western Montana: the outdoors. Western Montana is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, offering a myriad of thrilling recreational opportunities amidst its awe-inspiring landscapes. Surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains and boasting crystal-clear lakes and meandering rivers, this region beckons adventurers to explore its natural wonders. Hiking through lush forests, fishing in pristine rivers, camping under the Big Sky, and skiing down powdery slopes in winter are just a glimpse of the experiences that await. Whether you seek solitude in the wilderness or the camaraderie of fellow outdoor enthusiasts, Western Montana promises an unforgettable journey of discovery and a chance to connect with nature in its purest form. Visit Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, raft the Yellowstone river, and ski Big Sky or Bridger Bowl. No matter what recharging in the outdoors looks like for you, there is a lifetime of activity waiting in Western Montana.
Healthcare Facilities in Western Montana
The work you’ll find in Western Montana as a locum tenens provider will typically fall into one of two categories: Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) and primary care clinics. Providers working at a CAH will typically wear many hats, with inpatient rounding and primary care appointments alongside walk-in patients and the occasional emergency. Emergency call is almost always part of the schedule when working at Critical Access Hospitals.
Assignments at Critical Access Hospitals vary widely in duration. Some jobs are as short as a weekend, most are rotations that last one or two weeks. Many of our locum providers build relationships with specific sites and rotate with them regularly.
Our other common facilities are family medicine clinics either in larger towns or tribal communities, where the work is especially rewarding. Those jobs tend to have much more time off as regular business hours are kept with some flexibility in daily schedules available. In these settings, providers will see primary care patients in an outpatient clinic, wellness center or school-based clinic. Assignments in tribal communities are almost always 3-6 months in duration with providers commonly extending to stay even longer.
Western Montana Climate and Geography
Western Montana is a region known for its diverse climate and awe-inspiring geography. Nestled amidst the Rocky Mountains, this area offers a remarkable experience as each season unfolds, bringing distinct weather patterns and breathtaking landscapes.
During winter, Western Montana transforms into a winter wonderland, blanketed in a glistening layer of snow. The region experiences cold temperatures, with average lows dipping well below freezing. Snowfall is common, especially in higher elevations, providing ample opportunities for winter sports enthusiasts. Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and even ice fishing become popular pastimes during this season. When traveling to Montana in wintertime, you will need to be prepared for snow and very cold temperatures with your clothing and vehicle choices.
Spring in Montana takes its time, with regular snow well through March and into April in many parts of the state. When the snow does melt, wildflowers bloom across the region to create the most beautiful time of year there. Through the spring season, be prepared for occasional snowfall. It could be 60+ degrees one day, then snowing the next. Sometimes those temperature swings even happen in the same day!
Summer is a time of warmth and sunshine, making it an inviting season for outdoor adventures. With temperatures reaching into the 80s and 90s, locals and visitors alike embrace the great outdoors. The region becomes a playground for hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and kayaking enthusiasts. The sparkling lakes and rivers offer an ideal setting for fly fishing and other water-based activities, while camping under the clear night sky completes the quintessential Montana experience. As the days lengthen, the possibilities for exploration seem endless.
Fall temperatures fluctuate, with cooler mornings and evenings and mild afternoons. This season invites visitors to partake in scenic drives, capturing the beauty of the changing foliage. Fall also marks the start of hunting season in Montana, attracting hunters from near and far. For those seeking a more tranquil experience, nature walks and wildlife photography amidst the breathtaking fall scenery provide a sense of serenity and connection to the earth’s cycles.
Travel through Western Montana
When traveling to Montana from out of state, you will typically fly into Missoula, Billings or Bozeman and then rent a vehicle for the drive to your destination. When doing this, there are several things to keep in mind.
First, Montana is a large state with long distances between towns, so it is important to plan accordingly and allow plenty of time for travel. It’s also important to be aware of the weather conditions, especially late fall, through the winter, and early spring when roads can be snowy or icy.
Here are six tips for a safe and enjoyable road-trip experience across Montana:
- You will need a reliable SUV or other vehicle with four-wheel drive. If our team is renting your vehicle for you, we will ensure you have an appropriate vehicle available to you.
- Pack a map or GPS device for any road travel, as well as a phone charger and extra batteries. Cell phone coverage can be spotty in rural areas, so it is important to have a backup communication method.
- In addition to your extra devices, at least a full day’s supply of food and water for longer drives is necessary.
- Keep track of your gas mileage and plan your trip according to where the next gas station is. With hours between stations in some cases, you will want to keep a full tank of gas in your car and always ensure you have enough to get to your next fill-up.
- Be aware of wildlife on the roads, especially at dawn and dusk when they are most active. Hitting a large animal like a deer or elk can be very dangerous and cause significant damage to your car.
- Take frequent breaks and stretch your legs, especially during long drives. Montana has some stunning scenery, so take advantage of pullouts and scenic overlooks to take in the views.
Culture of Western Montana
Western Montana has a rich history of brave pioneers settling unforgiving land, and proud Native American tribes like the Blackfeet and Crow before them. The population of the region is now predominantly white, with a small percentage of Native Americans, Hispanics, and other groups. Many German and Irish immigrants settled in the area during the late 19th and early 20th century to work in mining and agriculture. The people of Western Montana are known for their strong work ethic and self-reliance, due in part to the region’s pioneering roots. The region has a long history of farming, mining, and many residents continue to work in these industries today.
In recent years, especially since the COVID-19 Pandemic, Western Montana has seen an unprecedented boom in tourism and new residents moving in from around the world. Cities like Whitefish, Kalispell, Bozeman and Missoula have developed very quickly with housing costs skyrocketing. The allure of Western Montana’s natural wonders, such as Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, has drawn tourists from around the globe. The influx of visitors has stimulated the hospitality industry, leading to the establishment of hotels, restaurants, and recreational businesses.
While some communities have thrived economically, others have faced challenges in adapting to the changing economic landscape. Remote rural areas like the ones our company staff have grappled with limited resources and infrastructure, making it harder for them to keep pace with the more developed regions. This has resulted in disparities in income levels and access to essential services, which has exacerbated the “brain-drain” effect taking place across the country as areas urbanize. In this context, the importance of our company’s work is emphasized. The benefit even one great medical provider can have on a small, aging community in this region is enormous.
What To Do in Western Montana
As mentioned above, the greatest pastime in Western Montana is to spend time in the great outdoors. There are 14 ski resorts in Western Montana, and even more nearby in North Idaho and Western Wyoming. Many of these ski resorts transition to Mountain Biking parks during the summer months. There is no off-season in Montana when it comes to outdoor recreation. For those interested in a slower pace, Western Montana has world-class fishing and hiking. You will not find a place in Western Montana that doesn’t have breathtaking trails within an hours’ drive.
Besides the many opportunities outdoors, Western Montana has a burgeoning restaurant and brewery-scene, especially in the larger towns. Also, a unique and vibrant arts scene can be found in towns like Missoula, Bozeman and beyond. Check out the Museum of the Rockies to learn more history of the area and see some amazing dinosaur fossils. There is also a strong rodeo culture across Montana and many natural hot springs resorts.
Those who haven’t been to Western Montana before are shocked at what stunning natural beauty is available with such easy access. If you are a medical provider and would like to make money while you travel this beautiful area, Wilderness Medical Staffing is that locum tenens company for you! When you are ready to work locum tenens (or permanent) assignments in Western Montana, reach out to us! We’re happy to get to know you better and discuss if jobs in this unique region of Montana could be right for you.
Additionally, if you’re looking to hire locum tenens in your medical practice and are located in Montana, Wilderness Medical Staffing would be proud to partner with your team and find the right fit for you!