Maine’s health care system already faces workforce challenges, but recruiting workers in the state’s rural communities has been especially difficult.
AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine’s health care system faces workforce challenges; however, it is especially difficult for the state’s rural hospitals.
Governor Mills announced steps on June 20 to alleviate the strife in rural Maine by offering a $1.6 million grant program to expand medical education opportunities in the state.
The expansion will bring in $1.6 million through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to support the development of new medical residency programs or expansion of pre-existing programs in underserved areas of the state.
The funding encourages the expansion of clinical sites by paying supervisors and medical providers who admit students, and can also provide students with support with essentials such as housing as they complete their education.
dr. James Jarvis, the director of Clinical Education at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC), said this grant could impact employee recruitment.
Maine’s only medical school at the University of New England is in Biddeford. Medical students can only travel as far north as Bangor at Northern Light EMMC to train.
“Most doctors practice within 100 miles of where they trained some,” Jarvis said. “It’s much more likely that they [rural hospitals] be able to recruit those people to come and practice.”
Such was the case with Natalie Ledue. She earned a federal scholarship with an ultimatum: The scholarship would cover the costs of her master’s degree as long as she worked in a rural community for two years after graduation.
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She worked as a nurse practitioner at Copers Mills at the Sheepscot Valley Health Center. After her two years, she decided to stay in the community because she felt she had formed a band.
“I’ve gotten to know my patients and my colleagues, and I feel quite committed to this community now that I’m here,” Ledue said.
The scholarship also supports educational opportunities for a wide variety of education or training programs in the medical field, including: Nursing, Certified Nursing Assistants, Behaviorists, Pharmacists, Physical Therapists, Physicians, Physicians Assistants, Emergency Medical Services, and Dentistry.
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This grant program joins other efforts to restore health care by the Mills administration. gov. Mills has allocated $4 million in health care grants through its Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, as well as $5 million in funding to Maine community colleges to double enrollment in their nursing programs.
Healthcare organizations that train students in the healthcare profession can apply for the subsidy. The Department of Health and Human Services is accepting applications through October 11.
If you are interested in applying, you will find more information here.
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