While Montana may not be on everyone’s travel bucket list, there are a lot of reasons to visit the state. Whether you’re an adventure junkie, or want to experience some of the United States’ most pristine landscape, Montane offers a lot. Before you cross Montana off your “must-see” travel list, learn more about the state known as Big Sky Country.
If you’re coming to Montana to see a lot of hustle and bustle, keep driving. Geographically, Montana is huge—the 4th largest state within the United States. Population wise though, is another story completely. Just over a million people call Montana home, making it the 43rd most populous state. All that space without a lot of people help give Montana its nickname “Big Sky Country.”
If you’re interested in taking a trip into Canada during your time off, Montana will get you closer. But be aware—its biggest cities, Billings, Bozeman, Butte and Missoula are still a good distance away. Montana is so large that a trip from Billings to Calgary is still nearly a 9 hour drive.
Speaking of Billings, it’s Montana’s only city with more than 100,000 people. Three other cities have more than 50,000 people, Missoula, Bozeman and Great Falls. If you’re looking for travel nurse jobs in Montana and want a rural refuge, you’ll likely find it here.
Montana is north, which can mean it’s cold. In the winter months, the average daytime temperature is about 28 in January, but can get up to 85 in July. Even in the summer though, the temperature greatly cools down at night. It can snow year round, so bring a coat, no matter what month you’re there. Fun fact—the lower 48’s coldest temperature on record happened in Montana. In January 1954, it got down to 70 degrees below zero. Brrrrr.
Obviously, Montana is a small state, at least population-wise. So what would bring someone to Montana? We can’t answer that for everyone, but we guess it’s the landscape. Montana is home to Glacier National Park and three of Yellowstone’s entrances are even located in the state. Other National Parks include Big Hole Battlefield, Bighorn Canyon National Rec Area, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and the Nez Perce National Historical Park. Whether you’re a history buff or just really love seeing the beauty of our country’s national parks, Montana will have something for you.
Hospitals in Montana are on the smaller side, just because of the state’s population. There are no Trauma I hospitals, though facilities in Missoula, Billings and Great Falls are all Trauma II hospitals. If you see any travel nurse jobs in Montana at the Billings Clinic, know that it was named as one of the safest hospitals in America in 2013. It’s also the area’s largest independent hospital and serves patients from Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota.
There are fewer than 20 hospitals in Montana and patients typically need to travel to one of the bigger cities if they need specialized care. Aside from the largest cities of Billings, Missoula, Bozeman and Great Falls, the towns of Browning, Kalispell, Havre, Butte and Helena all have smaller hospitals.
Working as a Montana travel nurse means you’ll get to know your coworkers. Since most facilities are small, people who work travel nursing jobs in Montana report a closer connection with both travelers and staff nurses and often keep in touch once the assignment is over. Because of the state’s lower population density, Montana travel nurse jobs are plentiful, so if Big Sky Country is on your bucket list, let your recruiter know.
Like everywhere else, the pay for Montana travel nursing jobs can vary by facility, specialty and even time of year. Before you sign a contract for travel nurse jobs in Montana, work with your recruiter to understand exactly what your contract includes. Things like pay, reimbursements, time off and even which shift you’ll be working should all be spelled out in your contract for travel nurse jobs in Montana.
Before you can take travel nursing jobs in Montana, you’re going to need a license. Lucky for nurses, travel nursing in Montana is easier because Montana is a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. This means that if your nursing license is issued from a compact state, Montana will accept the license without any additional paperwork. Wondering if your state is a part of the NLC? Thirty-seven states currently participate.
But what if your license is from a different state—what does this mean for travel nursing? Montana requires all applications to submit a fingerprint background check. New applicants who hold a current nursing license from another state can choose to ‘credential by licensing.’ In this case, your current license needs to be in good standing, plus you must submit a $30 fingerprint fee, and a $200 application fee. Montana recommends that all nurses apply online, though paper applications are allowed. Timing can vary, but reports say that takes less than two weeks for your license to be approved in Montana if you go this route.
When you do have a Montana nursing license, you’ll need to renew it every two years. Renewing can be done online at the BON website and costs $100.
With all its space, Montana is an outdoor person’s paradise. If you like to fish, you can expect to catch trout, salmon, walleye, northern pike, bass and catfish. People come to Montana from all over the world to experience the fishing, made famous in the early 1990s starring Brad Pitt called A River Runs Through It. After seeing that movie, everyone wanted to visit Montana to go fly fishing.
Fishing is a big part of Montana’s tourism economy. More than $5 billion comes in each year from out-of-staters traveling to Montana to take advantage of the fishing. Are you a fishing newbie? Don’t worry, there are plenty of guided tours and experienced guides who will make sure you come home with the perfect catch.
Hunters can also find plenty to do. Mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and white-tailed deer are all plentiful in Montana and the populations can be kept in check by hunters. Just make sure that you follow all local laws and get a permit before you attempt to do any hunting and make sure that you’re not trespassing on someone’s private land.
What if you’re not into hunting or fishing? Don’t worry—there’s still plenty for a travel nurse in Montana to do. Downhill skiing, snowboarding and cross county skiing are all options and there are plenty of developed ski areas that are open to the public throughout the state. Or rent a snowmobile and take off on one of its maintained trails. Feeling a little more adventurous? If you’re an experienced snowmobile rider, consider one of the unmaintained trails—just make sure you bring along a buddy and let someone else know where you are. Cell service can be spotty and the last thing you want to do is get in trouble on an unmaintained trail. In addition to the elk and antelope, it’s possible to come across black bears, bison, mountain lions and wolves. Eek.
Of course throughout the state, you’re going to find chain staples, but to really experience a location, you should try to enjoy local restaurants as much as possible. The locals working at the hospitals, at your hotel or even in the grocery stores will be able to give you personalized recommendations so don’t be afraid to just ask for their advice. In the meantime, here are a few that we’ve heard of in the bigger cities.
In Billings, locals recommend The Burger Dive for its burgers and milkshakes. People Magazine listed it as Montana’s must try restaurant in October 2017 and Man Vs Food on the Food Network declared it the burger champion in November 2016. It seems the hype is well deserved. One of its best known burgers is the “I’m Your Huckleberry” burger, with huckleberry hatch chili barbeque sauce, goat cheese, bacon, roasted red pepper mayo and arugula, all served on a locally baked bun. Thirsty? There are more than 20 different shakes to compliment your meal.
In Great Falls, check out the Sip ‘N Dip Tiki Lounge where mermaids swim around behind the bar. GQ Magazine even named it the #1 bar on earth worth taking a plane trip for—how’s that for an endorsement? Who knew mermaids were real and living in Montana?
Headed to Bozeman? Check out Montana Ale Works. It was voted “Best of Bozeman” and for good reason. The brewery makes its own beer and you can find it on tap, as well as to go in six packs. It also serves a variety of other local beers, which makes it a great place to do a taste test or two. Not into beer? They also have a huckleberry (sensing a theme here) and passionfruit margarita and foods like morel toast with local wild foraged morel mushrooms and local cherry tomatoes, as well as a bison tri tip, New York strip or even bison potstickers. How’s that for local?
Finding temporary housing in Montana can be a challenge at times. The sparsely populated area, plus the strong tourism industry can mean that it’s not easy to find a place to stay during your assignment. Before you take travel nursing jobs in Montana, check into housing. Some people choose to stay in a hotel, while others rent a full cabin or just a room in someone else’s home.
No matter where you choose to stay, know that because of the climate in Montana, it may be difficult to find a place that has air conditioning. Heat, however, is a given. No matter what type of housing you choose, it’s not a bad idea to ask if you need special tires on your car, especially in the winter. Your car might be fine, or you might realize that you should have upgraded to a four wheel drive with all-weather tires.
Is Montana calling your name? If so, connect with a Triage recruiter today and see what jobs Triage currently offers in Big Sky Country.