MAINE, USA — With a dire need for nurses in Maine, community colleges across the state are expanding their nursing programs.
Community colleges will double current nursing program capacities from about 240 graduates per year to 480 graduates per year.
The expansion will allow for new night and weekend nursing programs across seven campuses.
“I hope this will do two things. I hope that for the nursing industry in Maine, it will fill workforce shortages, which have been experienced, which obviously the pandemic hasn’t helped, and that we can help relieve some of that by providing more nurse employees. And I hope for the students it is a way to get a viable income,” Central Maine Community College President Betsy Libby said.
Two and a half million dollars of state funding was matched by Northern Light Health and MaineHealth to help create the expansion.
One faculty member said she feels this will bring support to nurses in the state who have been through a lot these past couple of years.
"This is going to provide hope to the nurses that are still at the bedside and working really hard. So this is a way to say to them, 'We know you are still there and working hard and we are hoping to support you by giving you our best students,'" Heather Rushmore, an Eastern Maine Community College faculty member, said.
Plans for the nursing expansion include:
Central Maine Community College: Adding 40 new nursing students annually by using the existing lab space on nights and weekends. Hiring eight new nursing faculty, simulation tech and simulation coordinator positions.
Eastern Maine Community College: Adding 12 new students at WCCC, up to 12 new students at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, and another 24 new students in expanded summer start and evening programs. Hiring two full-time faculty, two adjunct faculty, and simulation lab staff. Purchasing equipment.
Kennebec Valley Community College: Adding eight new students in fall 2022 and an additional eight students in fall 2023, for a total of 56 seats. Hiring additional faculty and a clinical coordinator.
Northern Maine Community College: Adding eight new students in 2022-2023 and an additional eight students in 2023-2024, for a total of 48 seats. Hiring additional nursing faculty members, a simulation operations specialist, and purchasing additional equipment for the simulation laboratory. Adding support for students to increase retention.
Southern Maine Community College: Adding 42 new students in a new evening nursing program at the South Portland campus and hiring six new nursing instructors. Doubling nursing capacity at the Midcoast Campus in Brunswick, with a new nursing cohort starting every year instead of every other year.
Washington County Community College: Building a new WCCC nursing program while partnering with EMCC to provide an opportunity for a cohort of 12 students starting next academic year. Hiring at least two new nursing instructors and immediately adding a new health occupational certificate program to prepare future nursing students to enter the new WCCC program. The new nursing program's anticipated launch date is 2023 at the Calais location.
York County Community College: Launching a new nursing program with 32 seats in fall 2022. Hiring four full-time faculty.