Senator Jon Tester was in Missoula Monday afternoon to visit St. Patrick Hospital and discuss a bill he has sponsored to help physical therapy students pay off their loans.

Tester has sponsored the Physical Therapist Student Loan Repayment Eligibility Act, which would allow physical therapists to participate in the National Health Service Loan Repayment Program.

After touring St. Patrick Hospital's physical therapy workout facility, Tester sat down with hospital administrators, a PT professor at the University of Montana and three physical therapy students to discuss the challenges they face in the program.

Student debt and living under the burden of increased costs in post-graduate programs was the main theme of the discussion.

Jon Tester discussion with physical therapy students

After the group discussion, Tester explained how the bill would help physical therapy students qualify for loan forgiveness by serving in rural areas for a specified time. He also addressed the pending sequester, saying there are several options on the table to keep from hacking at programs with a budgetary chain saw.The sequester amounts to across-the-board budget cuts that will strike in March barring an agreement on deficit reduction.

Senator Jon Tester