Montana State University

Medical history conference to focus on public health nursing

March 25, 2010 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- The challenges of public health nursing in Montana and the West will be explored in this year's Medical History of the West conference to be held the afternoon of Friday, April 16, in Bozeman.

Historians, public health officers, public health nurses and other experts will address the 10th annual conference to be held in the corporate room of the Stadium Club at South 10th Ave. and Kagy Boulevard. Attendees should go to the west side of the Montana State University football stadium and take the elevator to the Stadium Club.

Among the conference speakers is Hollis Lefever, a retired family physician who was a Northern Pacific Railroad doctor in the 1950s. He practiced in Glendive for four years, then moved to Lewistown where he was the only doctor on call for hundreds of miles. As the youngest physician in Fergus County, he was designated the county health doctor and formed a partnership with the county nurse.

Another conference speaker is Tammy Matt, a community health nurse for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes since 1998. She is also the Native American representative on the executive board for the Montana Public Health Association. Among the other speakers is John Tkach, a Bozeman dermatologist who edited and published Medicine in Bozeman, Montana in 1982, a snapshot of one day in the life of the medical community. He is interested in the history of public health going back to the 1840s and the leprosy colony in Hawaii.

The medical history conference is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register by April 9. They can write the WWAMI Medical Education program at 308 Leon Johnson Hall, P.O. Box 173080, Bozeman, MT 59717-3080; send a fax to (406) 994-4398 or e-mail

The conference is sponsored by the Volney Steele Endowment for the Study of Medical History, the WWAMI Medical Education program at MSU and MSU's Department of History and Philosophy.

The conference schedule is:

1:15 p.m. -- Registration.

1:30 p.m. -- Welcome by Jane Shelby, executive director of Health Sciences.

1:40 p.m. -- Talk on "Becoming Professional: Public Health Nursing in the United States," by Rima Apple, professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published extensively in women's history, the history of medicine and nursing, and the history of nutrition.

2:45 p.m. -- Talk on "Public Health Nursing: The Early years," by Jo Ann Walsh Dotson, chief of the Family and Community Health Bureau at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and the Title V director for Montana.

3:10 p.m. -- Break.

3:30 p.m. -- Talk on "Lillian Wald: The Original" by Ellen Leahy, health officer for the Missoula City-County Health Department.

4 p.m. -- Round table discussion. Participants will include Dotson, Leahy, Lefever, Matt and Stephanie Nelson. Nelson has worked in the field of public health for 30 years. She was a community health nurse, nurse practitioner and health officer before her recent retirement.

4:30 p.m. -- Talk on "Constance W. Crist: Public Health Nursing in Bozeman, 1926-1929" by Tkach.

6 p.m. -- Wine and cheese reception.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or