$1.6 million grant to expand training for rural Maine medical providers

Maine’s health system already faces staffing challenges, but it has been particularly difficult to recruit workers from rural communities across the state.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s health care system is facing staffing challenges; however, it is especially difficult for rural hospitals in the state.

Governor Mills on June 20 announced steps to ease the struggle in rural Maine by offering a $1.6 million grant program to expand medical education opportunities across the state.

The expansion provides $1.6 million through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to support the development of new medical residency programs or the expansion of existing programs in underserved areas of the state.

The funding encourages the expansion of clinical sites by paying supervisors and medical providers who host students, and can also provide students with support on essentials such as housing while they complete their training.

Dr. James Jarvis, director of clinical training at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC), said this grant could influence worker 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 to Northern Light EMMC for training.

“Most doctors practice within 100 miles of where they trained,” Jarvis said. “It is much more likely that they [rural hospitals] to be able to recruit these people to come and practice. »

This was the case of Natalie Ledue. She won a federal scholarship with an ultimatum: the scholarship would cover the cost 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 Sheepscot Valley Health Center. After her two years, she decided to stay in the community because she felt she had made a connection.

“I got to know my patients and my colleagues, and I feel quite connected to this community now that I’m here,” Ledue said.

The grant also supports training opportunities for a wide range of medical education or training programs including: nursing, certified practical nurses, behavioral health professionals, pharmacists, physical therapists, doctors, medical assistants, emergency medical services and dentistry.

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This grant program complements the Mills administration’s other health care recovery efforts. Governor Mills has allocated $4 million for health care scholarships as part of her Maine jobs and recovery plan, as well as $5 million in funding for Maine community colleges to double enrollment in their nursing programs.

Healthcare organizations that train students for the healthcare profession can apply for the grant. The Department of Health and Human Services is accepting applications until October 11.

If you are interested in applying, you can find more information here.

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