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Updated: December 15, 2022

$2.25M shot in the arm for rural health care workforce

medical professional holding syringe Photo / Pixabay Three Maine organizations will receive a combined $2.25 million to expand training and career opportunities for health care professionals in rural communities across the state.

Three Maine organizations will share $2.25 million in new state and federal funding to expand training and career opportunities for health care professionals in rural communities across the state.

The awards are funded in part by $1.6 million from the governor's Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, which will be used to recruit and support clinical supervisors, known as preceptors, in rural health systems, and to expand graduate medical education programs in Maine. 

“Rural Maine is my home. I care deeply about the people who live there, and I want to ensure that they have access to high-quality health care services,” Gov. Janet Mills said in Tuesday's announcement. “This investment builds on our efforts to recruit and train more people to enter the health care workforce and to strengthen our health care system in the long term for the benefit of Maine people.”

The funds, administered by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, will expand training opportunities for doctors, nurses, social workers and other health professionals in rural communities and encourage aspiring health care workers to launch careers in Down East, northern and western Maine, where health care providers are in great demand. 

Grants include $950,000 for Maine Health to expand graduate medical education opportunities for physicians-in-training at hospitals and physician practices in rural and underserved communities; $475,000 to the University of Maine System; and $175,000 to Standish-based Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

UMaine System will use its grant money in part to place more students who are pursuing a master's in social work in rural health care sites, while Saint Joseph's will develop and implement new rural clinical preceptorship programs for students in its undergraduate and graduate nursing programs.

Building-ME Network

In a related move, the Mills administration is awarding $650,000 to fund the Building-ME Network project, which aims to create a statewide system to streamline clinical placements for trainees and preceptors in rural communities.

Those placements will cover a variety of positions and specialties, ranging from entry-level clinical support and laboratory staff to physicians, behavioral health providers, emergency responders, and dental health providers.

For that project, MaineHealth is partnering with Northern Light Health, the Maine Hospital Association and several other provider groups. Funding is through a federal grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"At a time when hospitals and provides across the state are facing unexpected workforce shortages, expanding our training programs through statewide projects that bring multidisciplinary groups together to collaborate is critical," said Sally Weiss, vice president of workforce policy and strategic initiatives for the Maine Hospital Association.

"These initiatives supported by the Mills administration will strengthen and grow Maine's rural health care workforce for years to come."

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