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Montana Nurses Association reacts to $101 million donation to Montana State College of Nursing

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 20:20:28-04

On Monday, Montana State University announced a historic gift of $101 million to bring expanded training to nurses in the Treasure State. For some perspective on the current state of nursing in Montana and what’s needed for the future, MTN News turned to Vicky Byrd, CEO of the Montana Nurses Association.

Byrd has been a nurse in Montana for more than thirty years. She’s excited about the possibilities of better training for nurses in Montana.

“It’s always better to bring the resources here and train our own,” said Byrd. “We want to train the nurses that can stay in the state and often help attract them to rural places where help is so urgently needed.”

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Montana Nurses Association CEO Vicky Byrd

Byrd says over more than three decades of nursing, she’s discovered our men and women in the health care field need to not only have a passion for caring for others, but also in turn the best training and support possible for those nurses as well.

“They need the support,” said Byrd. “They need everything from a sustainable living wage to good benefits.”

Byrd says she’s excited about Monday's announcement at MSU. The generous financial gift will bring better training facilities to Montana campuses, as well as benefits to attract top-tier professors. She says now more than ever these developments make an impact, at a time when she says we are still very much in a pandemic. She says this is a time that’s taking a toll on nurses.

MSU Celebrates Gift to College of Nursing
Montana State University celebrates a historic $101 million gift from Mark and Robyn Jones, founders of Goosehead Insurance, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, during an event at MSU in Bozeman, Mont. The gift will support the MSU College of Nursing in meeting the future health care needs of Montana. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

“Moral resilience and burnout are very real,” said Byrd. “So let’s throw a pandemic on top of it and that’s just stressed our nursing staff even further. When our staff is suffering and we can’t staff our hospitals, the ones that suffer also are the patients.”

She says we need to do all we can to support nurses in the Treasure State and also keep them here to meet the needs of patients spread out in so many rural communities.

“We need to be investing in that and making sure that if they are in a very small rural town that they have a living wage that can sustain them. Plus, we need to make sure they have the tools to provide good care there in our small hospitals,” said Byrd.

Bottom line, she says Montana needs nurses and she’s happy to see every new resource to give them the care and training they need so that they can care for others.

We need all kinds of nurses really badly in the state of Montana,” said Byrd. “We need to support the ones we have and we need them to want to come here.”