"Why am I doing this?" Those thoughts were running through Sue Walla's mind last winter, while driving on icy roads during her weekly 300 mile round trip that covered 13 counties in eastern Montana. As a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Sue was based in Glendive at the Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center, but her job took her all the way to Wolf Point in northern Montana each week.
She started looking at new positions online, wanting to stay in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wyoming and found the open position here at CCMH. "I sent in my resume and then Karissa (CCMH Physician Recruiter) called and said they were very interested in me," says Sue. "I had traveled through Gillette before because I used to live in Denver, but didn't really know much else about it. When my husband and I came down for the interview, were very impressed with the organization and the town. Everyone was so nice to us."
"I looked online at how many nursing positions were open at the hospital," said Sue. "This is usually an indication of how the organization treats it's staff." Another plus for Sue was that fact that she had worked with Deb Tonn (Vice President of Patient Care Services) in Sydney, MT about 15 years ago. "I knew this was a good organization to work for, or Deb wouldn't be here" she said.
Sue has been a Nurse Practitioner for about five years, and applies a nursing perspective to her work, educating patients about their illness and how it relates to brain chemistry and medication. "I'm looking forward to blending the nursing piece into the unit," said Sue. "I'm thrilled to have doctors and support staff to work with. There were no psychiatrists east of Billings; I was like a lone wolf out there. So, it's a treat for me to have them now".
Sue is currently taking courses to enable her to see children as well as adults, and is now seeing both inpatient and outpatient Behavioral Health clients.
Sue and her husband Larry have three grown children, with a strong history of military service. Sue and both sons enlisted within six months of each other in difference branches of the service. She plans to keep her property in Glendive, staying in Gillette during the week and traveling home on weekends when the roads are good.
"I've been in a lot of places," said Sue. "Military hospitals, big city and rural hospitals, and this is one of the best run civilian organizations I've seen. Employees are treated well, and that's a biggie for all nurses."