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February 15, 2017

Maine faces a looming shortage of nurses

Courtesy / Saint Joseph's College
Courtesy / Saint Joseph's College
Saint Joseph's College in Standish has received a $1.5 million challenge grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation to address critical shortages in Maine's nursing workforce. The initiative is timely, given the latest Maine Nursing Forecaster showing the state will be down more than 3,000 nurses by 2025 if steps are taken to increase capacity for in-state training.

The latest Maine Nursing Forecaster predicts that the state will be down more than 3,000 nurses by 2025.

Maine Public reported that the forecast says the solution is to increase capacity for in-state nursing education and recruit out-of-state nurses.

St. Joseph's College in Standish is already moving to address critical shortages in Maine's nursing workforce, thanks to a $1.5 million Harold Alfond Foundation challenge grant that was announced in January.

The Alfond grant will be applied toward the creation of a new Center for Nursing Excellence at Saint Joseph's.

A substantial portion of Maine's nursing workforce, 43%, is at or approaching retirement age. The crisis is more pronounced among nursing educators, with 74% reaching retirement age, according to information from St. Joseph at the time of the announcement.

Early in 2016, the University of New England said it was also tackling health care education from a different angle, with the establishment of an online graduate degree program in health information technology.

Bangor Daily News reported that Maine now graduates about 970 nurses per year, adding that state officials announced plans Tuesday to increase nurse-training opportunities within Maine, including a Maine Summit that will be hosted by the LePage administration and the University of Maine system in the coming months.

The newspaper also reported that state Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, co-chairwoman of the Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, is sponsoring a bill to enhance the National Nurse Licensing Compact, which allows nursing licenses to cross state lines.

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