The first trained nurses in Montana arrived on a stagecoach in 1869. The five Sisters of Charity landed in Helena and the nursing profession began in Big Sky Country. This was twenty years before statehood.  Friday, May 6th is National Nurses Day and it kicks off Nurses Week. Because, seriously, they deserve much more than just one day. Nursing has always been a challenging profession but after the last two years of grueling COVID scenarios (with reports of nurses being threatened and attacked around the nation), we owe them our heartfelt thanks.

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Nurses Week concludes on Florence Nightingale's birthday, 5/12.

A quick refresher on Florence Nightingale (grade school history was a long time ago). According to Biography.com, she came from a wealthy British family and was born in Florence, Italy (hence the name) on May 12, 1820. She eventually became famous for drastically improving cleanliness in London hospitals during the Crimean war and went on to become a renowned philanthropist and nursing advocate. She was an original "social influencer" long before Instagram.

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An MSU nursing student, taking care of business. (Kelly Gorham MSU Photo)
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You likely know a handful of nurses in Billings.

Livability.com lists four of our hospitals in the top ten employers in Montana. According to Lauren Lewis, Public Information Officer at the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, there are 20,310 licensed nurses and LPNs working in Montana. Of those, 17,083 have Montana addresses. 3,093 of those list Yellowstone County as their primary address. Nursing and health care are obviously significant contributors to the Billings economy.

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Much respect to our Billings nurses.

I have huge respect for anyone who chooses to make nursing a career. It takes a certain personality to deal with people in pain. Not to mention:

  • grouchy old people
  • screaming little kids
  • pill seekers
  • drunks or drug addicts
  • abuse victims
  • patients with bodies mangled from accidents
  • suicide attempts
  • dementia patients
  • those on their death beds

The list is endless. They deal with ALL of that, combined with 12-hour shifts on concrete floors. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it.

My family has probably spent more time with nurses than most people. Like, literally hundreds of hours in hospitals with my little one. To the nurses who deal with sick children, I have a special spot of gratitude for what you do. Thank you so much.

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