Alan W. Thomas, Mark Johnston, Sarah Kragelund, Thomas D. Hall, and Blane from the Billings Clinic

We are ecstatic to have received so many submissions for our Celebrating Montana Healthcare Careers: National Rural Health Day Contest this year. We would like to recognize the students who participated in this contest, and the healthcare workers they interviewed. Each week we will post five submissions. Thank you to everyone who participated! 

Neidra ThomasName: Alan W. Thomas

Student: Neidra Thomas, 10th grader from Sentinel

Challenges: Patients often believe that since we live in a rural community that the treatment being provided is not sufficient enough. Another problem is that the volume of patients with certain, specialty requiring cases, especially those who require a specialized surgery, will need to be referred elsewhere to receive appropriate care because of a lack of doctors who can treat the patient.

Benefits: Benefits of working in a rural community are that a doctor can have much stronger and better connections with their patients. Another benefit is that doctors usually know the other doctors, who referred the patients so they can ask questions about a patient’s medical history directly from the referring doctor.

Neidra is interested in a career in Oncology or Cardiology.

Ashley McFarlandName: Mark Johnston, who works as a Physical Therapist at the Billings Clinic

Student: Ashley McFarland, grade 11 who attends the Billings Career Center

Benefits: Works in a small town, gets to teach people proper workouts and routines.

Challenges: Salaries are a lot less in Montana compared to bigger cities.

Haley Burckhard

Name: Sarah Kragelund, who  is Sentinel High School’s social worker

Student: Haley Burckhard, a sophomore from Sentinel High

Benefits: The benefits of working in a rural community are that since everyone kind of knows everyone we can be resourceful and help each other out.

Challenges: Challenges of working in a rural community are we have a lot of access to guns and alcohol, we find it hard to ask for help on certain things and have limited providers.

Tenzin Karchungtsang

Name: Thomas D. Hall, O.D, who works at Montana Family Vision Care

Student: Tenzin Karchungtsang, a sophomore at Sentinel High

Benefits: You get to know and be more active and a part of your community. You also get to spend more time with your patients and know more about them. You sometimes might get paid more for working in these rural communities even though it’s not always about the money. Overall just getting to spend more time and taking care of my patients is a plus for me in working in a rural community.

Challenges: Seeing if you make enough money to benefit or support your family. Resources of your equipment would be hard to get sometimes. Checking if you have enough patients to work in a rural community that we live in. Also sometimes there aren’t any specialist in Missoula for certain medical treatment so you might have to take on that role.

The career path that Tenzin is interested in is a pediatrician or a dermatologist.

Baylee Van Dyke

Name: Blane , my favorite nurse who works at Billings Clinic and gives me my allergy shots every Tuesday !

Student: Baylee Van Dyke, who is currently a senior in high school. Baylee attends Billings West High School and the Career Center.

Benefits: Blane’s response for the benefits of working in a rural community was that the nurses are able to work together more closely and get to know their patients and build a relationship with them. Other than that he didn’t really have much more to say other than he loves his job.

Challenges: Blane says the challenges of working in a rural community are working with unhappy patients. Because most patients come from long distances they tend to take their frustrations out on the nurses.