The Montana Action Coalition is the driving force transforming health care through nursing in our state. Our mission is to improve the health of Montanans by leading nursing practice through collaboration. The Montana Action Coalition is governed by a steering committee representing the diversity of nursing’s presence in Montana.



Our Education Council is charged with designing easier transitions for nurses wishing to continue their education without leaving their home settings, with the goal of attaining 80 percent bachelors of science in nursing by 2020.


Although several nursing schools use a common curriculum, barriers still remain for students to move fluidly into and across programs. The Montana Action Coalition is collaborating actively with state hospital associations, nursing programs and boards of nursing to advance pathways for a diverse nursing workforce to achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system. Kicking off this effort, directors of all Montana nursing programs met in 2011 to collaborate on increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses. This year in 2012, the Montana Action Coalition qualified as one of nine states to receive the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Academic Progression in Nursing Grant. This grant, along with our partnerships across the state, will accelerate our efforts to promote seamless academic progression and ensure nurses get the education they need to deliver high-quality patient centered care. 


Nurses bring a unique, important perspective to health care, higher education, business and policy discussions. Nurses at all levels must step up and contribute their valued perspective and identify how they can be leaders in health care change. Education and professional nursing organizations must provide leadership development and mentorship.


Our LEAD Council is focusing its work on expanding opportunities for nurses to lead change through collaborative improvement efforts. We understand that communicating the value of nursing leadership and building allies are critical to providing opportunities to nurses for leadership roles. To that end, our LEAD Council sponsored a statewide video conference February 2012 to discuss how nurses can become leaders as they advance health care change.  Acknowledging that nurses must also develop leadership competencies and identify opportunities to contribute their value, we are engaging partners to help nurses become leaders at all levels and across all health care settings.  


In our large, frontier state, access to quality health care is challenging. So it is important that Montana’s nurses practice to the full extent of their education and training. Changes to state laws support this, however, institutional barriers still exist. 


We are implementing strategies that improve patient access to health care services by leveraging partnerships with key stakeholders. With this network, our goal is to drive the necessary changes to regulatory and institutional barriers to ensure nurses’ ability to provide care across the state.

Interprofessional Collaboration

To ensure high quality, patient-centered care, nurses, physicians and other health professionals must collaborate in education and practice, and across all health care settings; however, Montana has no large health care university setting to apply interprofessional practice principles in education.


As we develop our seamless academic pathways with our partners and stakeholders, including physicians and other health providers, we will support the spread and implementation of models of interprofessional collaboration in education and practice. 


Montanans face unique diversity considerations; tribal customs influence how health care is provided and how nursing students learn. We are finding ways to provide the resources for our students who will return to their communities and provide culturally sensitive care. 


In addition to two of our tribal colleges providing nursing programs to students, we have partners such as Montana State University (MSU) that have sought innovative ways to help students obtain their bachelors in nursing. For example, MSU’s College of Nursing “Caring for our Own Program”, funded by the Department of Health & Humans Services Administrations (HRSA) Workforce Diversity grant, provides American Indian students with the additional support they need to pursue their bachelors or masters in nursing. Programs such as these will help Montantans fill their workforce supply concerns across this large, frontier state.


Effective deployment of the health care workforce requires information – data to tell us what kind of health providers we will need and with what skills. Yet major gaps exist in the workforce data we now have.


Through the Montana Healthcare Workforce Advisory Committee and the Montana Office of Rural Health’s HRSA grant, the Action Coalition is collecting the nursing workforce data needed to achieve our goals. Our advisory committee partners with an economist from the Department of Labor who provides the data analysis to our leadership charged with creating a statewide implementation plan to address the state’s workforce needs. Once developed, we will work to promote data-driven policy decisions that improve health care for patients and families in our state. 



Casey Blumenthal, Vice President, MHA…An Association of Montana Health Care Providers

Cynthia Gustafson, Executive Director, Montana State Board of Nursing

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