ELLSWORTH – Vacancies in the state’s nursing workforce continue to grow, and the University of Maine System is taking steps to bring nursing education to the regions that need it most.
“We’re meeting with nursing leaders from local nursing homes and hospitals to talk about our plans to bring nursing to these communities,” said UMaine System Director of PR Dan Demeritt.
The plan will bring nursing education to Brunswick, Ellsworth, Machias, Rockland and Rumford. On Tuesday, university officials and healthcare leaders met in Ellsworth to discuss the expansion.
“I’m very happy that the university has made the offer to extend the class and as a result I have offered to extend our two hospitals as clinical sites,” said Chief Nursing Officer of Waldo and Knox Counties Dr. Tiffany Love.
Pending the approval of question four on next month’s ballot, USM will use 12 million dollars for nursing labs, classrooms and other investments to support students. The plan will also offer free tuition for students with the greatest financial need.
“It’s critical to reach people, to knock down barriers, whether it’s dollars or distance,” said Demeritt.
Demeritt and Dr. Love said they hope to keep people local through this plan, especially since attracting younger nurses to the rural areas of Maine can be a challenge.
“We don’t have to bring people in from away, but rather prepare the people that are already here for the jobs that we need them to fill,” said Demeritt.