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February 21, 2024

UMaine Augusta's $1.75M medical lab training facility doubles student capacity

person looking into microscope Courtesy / University of Maine Augusta Medical lab training at UMA has filled critical roles at MaineGeneral Health.

A new medical lab training facility on the campus of University of Maine Augusta is nearly six times larger than an off-campus space that was used up to now, and is expected to double the program’s student capacity.

The $1.75 million project came in under budget, according to the school. Funding came from the University of Maine and several grants including the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan Grant.

The medical lab training program is a collaboration between UMA and the University of Maine Presque Isle. It’s the only clinical laboratory training program in Maine, according to a news release.

The expanded facility, in Robinson Hall at 37 University Drive, is expected to address workforce education needs as well as a significant need for medical lab training spaces in Maine and across the country. 

There are approximately 90 medical lab tech positions open in Maine, said Brenda McAleer, UMA’s associate provost and dean of the College of Professional Sciences.

Nationally, about 24,000 openings for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are projected annually over the next decade, because 40% of the laboratory workforce is within five to 10 years of retirement, said UMA President Jennifer Cushman, citing the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Up to now, lab training was done at MaineGeneral Health, a hospital in Augusta where the lab space is just under 800 square feet. Space constraints limited class size no more than 10 students at a time.

“The combined square-footage of this new space is around 4,500,” said Elisha Sirios, the training program’s coordinator.

Graduates from the training program “fill critical roles in our health care system as 74% of our current lab staff graduated from this program,” said Nathan Howell, president and CEO of MaineGeneral Health.

The program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

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