National Nurses Week began on May 6 and represents a time set aside each year to recognize these critically essential health providers for their dedication and service. As we move into the third year of a challenging pandemic that has driven thousands of exhausted nurses to leave the profession, there has never been a greater need for new professionals to enter the field.
Analysts at Montana State University released a study last week showing the total nursing workforce shrank by 1.8 percent from 2019 through 2021. But the study revealed that 1% of nurses 50 or older quit nursing, while 4% of those under 35 did so, worrying labor experts over the industry’s future. Simply put, more nurses are needed badly. One example of a new nursing student answering the call is Helena’s Berit Hansen, who is just finishing her first semester of nursing school.
Hansen has always been committed to people’s health and well-being in her career. Since fall 2020, she has served as the Health & Fitness Manager at Touchmark on Saddle Drive, a full-service retirement community. A certified Exercise Physiologist*, Hansen has a solid background in overall wellness; earlier this year, she implemented the Stay Active & Independent for Life—the first time SAIL was available in Montana.
“I’ve always been an active person, engaging in sports and fitness and wanting to help improve people’s health,” Hansen says. “This led me to pursue degrees in exercise physiology and now nursing.”
Learning about the nursing shortage in Montana and looking for an opportunity to make an even greater impact on the lives of others, she decided in January to pursue her longtime goal of becoming a registered nurse. “There is a shortage of nurses that is only going to get worse, so I figured now was the perfect time to go back to school.” She is now enrolled in the Helena College University of Montana while still serving the residents of Touchmark.
Hansen enjoys sharing her love of the outdoors with others (Her favorite activities are hiking, trail running, camping, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, and picnicking anywhere in the Montana mountains.) Lately, Hansen has been working with Nate Copps and the Prickly Pear Land Trust to build a partnership to benefit all who want to enjoy the outdoors, including those requiring ADA-accessible trails. This is just one more example of Hansen’s dedication to enriching people’s lives no matter their age, goals, or abilities.
*Hansen earned her M.S. in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Candidate Concentration in Geriatrics from Montana State University and completed her B.S. in Exercise Physiology from East Carolina University.
Touchmark values its nurses and thanks them for their dedication to serving residents and their families each day. To see additional examples of the impact nurses make in Touchmark communities, please visit our Facebook pages.