ELLSWORTH (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- The need for nurses in rural Maine, which is why the University of Maine system has a plan in place to double the number of nurses in the state.
The latest on the push was a roundtable discussion in Ellsworth on Tuesday afternoon. This was an opportunity for university officials and healthcare leaders to discuss the problems they face in rural Maine.
The average age of Maine's nurses are 55-years-old and many are reaching the end of their careers, like Debra Bumbaurgh who has worked at Maine Coast Hospital for 38 years. While she retired last year, she can't stay away from the nursing field.
"I love it, I love what I do. Which is probably why I'm still doing it." She said.
Although Bumbaurgh loves what she does, it doesn't come without challenges. Especially in rural communities. She began her career in Harrisburg, PA in a more urban setting, but was looking for a change of pace when she moved to Maine.
"I actually have to use more of my own tools, my own thought process my own ability, here. Because I don't have every machine under the sun." She said.
This is one of the many challenges of working in a rural setting, which is why the University Maine system is looking to bring schooling to these rural communities. This isn't to bring people from away, but to attract people that already live in the communities to the profession by making it accessible and affordable.
"Bring the educational programs to where people live now. We can help residents of the communities take the nursing programs and education, graduate and continue to live and serve in the community." Dan Demerritt of the University of Maine System, said.
This project was announced last month, and Tuesday, the University System kicked off rural nursing engagement in Ellsworth. This was a roundtable discussion where university officials and community healthcare leaders discussed what is needed in the rural communities.
Many of the local healthcare leaders in attendance are in need of nurses themselves and they want to help these new students get the best education they can, and also offer their hospitals as clinical locations.
"And so it's my hope that the nurses who take clinical at our hospitals will want to stay and work there." Dr. Tiffany Love, Regional Chief Nursing Officer at Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital, said.
Tuesday, the discussion kicked off a year-long discussion between rural Maine providers, community leaders and the schools to build awareness of the new program.