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October 26, 2021

Mills sets $14M to help Maine recruit, educate health care workers

Gov. Janet Mills on Monday announced that the state will funnel $14 million in new funding to recruit and educate health care workers as part of the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan.

The plan consists of $4 million in financial support through scholarships and student loan relief, to allow more people to become doctors, nurses, behavioral health specialists, long term care professionals and others starting at the end of this year.

Under an $8.5 million initiative, a new “tuition remission” program will provide financial support to help employees attain advanced health care credentials. The ability to earn credentials while on the job will allow health care workers to advance in the profession, leading to better paying jobs for them and improved health care services, Mills said in a news release.

The state also is launching a new $1.5 million recruitment effort. Of that, $1 million will be dedicated to promoting the value of work in health care and encouraging young people to enter careers in health care. The other $500,000 will be dedicated specifically to promoting direct care worker jobs, such as aides for older Mainers or individuals with disabilities.

This effort will be supplemented by another $600,000 to launch Maine’s Health Care Career Navigators, who will be charged with helping people interested in health care jobs figure out the best career path for them.

Mills plans to get the initiatives in place before the end of the year, she said.

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the state’s effort to invest nearly $1 billion in federal pandemic-recovery funds to tackle three goals: immediate economic recovery from the pandemic; long-term economic growth for Maine; and infrastructure revitalization.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated Maine’s long standing workforce challenges in the health care sector. The health care sector has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, representing 12 percent of net job losses in Maine.

“The health care sector is one of Maine’s largest employers, putting thousands of Maine people to work in good-paying jobs protecting the health, welfare, and lives of Maine citizens. But for a long time now, health care facilities across the state have had to grapple with a shortage of workers and the pandemic has only made the problem worse,” Mills said.

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