Health Care Workforce Grant Successfully Trains 1,000 Workers Bookmark and Share

June 25, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 25, 2013
Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

AUGUSTA—The Maine Health Care Sector Grant, initially projected to train 400 people, has trained more than 1,000 Mainers for jobs as nurses, clinical nurse instructors, certified nursing assistants and allied health professionals.

According to the Preliminary Overview and Summery of Projects released earlier this month by the Maine Department of Labor, all original grant goals and objectives have been exceeded since the grant was awarded in March 2010. The grant program ends June 30.

The State Workforce Investment Board and the Maine Department of Labor has used this grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, to maintain and strengthen partnerships among Maine’s employer, education and workforce sectors to advance the development of a skilled health care workforce.

“Industry partnerships like this grant show how the government can leverage resources to help the private sector create and retain jobs,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Having better trained staff in our health care facilities benefits workers, patients and the community, as well as our hospitals and other care facilities. We want to replicate this effective model in other industries to increase the skills of our workforce and attract new businesses to Maine.”

Unemployed workers made up more than 25 percent of the total enrollment in the training program. The healthcare industry is the only industry in the state that continued to gain jobs during the recent recession. Employment in Maine’s health care sector is at an all-time high.

Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette noted that this grant was a collaborative effort, “This grant touched almost every aspect of the workforce development system: the employers, the community college system, public and private colleges and universities, adult education, apprenticeship, the local workforce boards, and others.”

“The project groups met regionally and statewide, sharing best practices,” she explained. “By using the best ideas, we were able to more than double the number of people trained, and we created a training infrastructure and built relationships that will continue to produce benefits. The success of this project is multifacted and will have a long lasting impact.”

The grant placed special emphasis on reducing the “bottleneck” created by the state’s lack of capacity to meet the demand for training nurses. It has increased both the number of qualified registered nurse (RN) clinical instructors and the availability and flexibility of clinical training facilities. It has also supported the training of clinical instructors in the use of simulation equipment. The Preliminary Overview and Summer of Projects notes that the projects helped improve retention rates of trainees and reduce turnover rates of new nurses and other health care staff.

For example, Mid Coast Hospital has experienced a reduction in their newly hired RNs’ turnover rate, falling from 22 percent prior to 2011 to zero since the grant-funded nurse-orientation program started.

Ashley Clark, a 22-year-old native of Brunswick, Maine, graduated in May 2011 with her RN, BSN from the University of Maine Orono. However, she found the job market for new nursing graduates in the state of Maine to be competitive. Clark applied for the Nurse Residency Program with the Mid Coast Hospital and was accepted into the program.

Clark said, “Many hospitals are unwilling to take on the cost of training a new graduate or are only able to hire a small number each year. Luckily Mid Coast Hospital received a grant, which enabled them to hire seven new graduate nurses and create a nurse resident program.”

“I was hired as a nurse resident for the medical surgical unit,” she explained. “For six months, the other residents and I attended classes and discussed our experi¬ences as a small community of new nurses. I am very grateful that this grant created the opportunity for employ¬ment, education and on-the-job skills training that otherwise would not have been possible. I will definitely carry forward the knowledge and friendships made during this program to my continued career in nursing.” Other health professions targeted by the grant include phlebotomist, medical lab technician, medical coding, radiology technician, respiratory technician, surgical technician, physical therapy assistant, occupational therapy assistant and pharmacy technician.

For more information on Maine’s healthcare workforce, visit the Center for Workforce Research and Information’s publications website at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/pubs.html and click on Maine’s Health Sector and Workforce, Trends-Projections-Challenges. This presentation details the current employment trends in the health care sector.

The Department of Labor administers Maine’s unemployment insurance system, is responsible for ensuring the safety of public employees and provides workforce development leadership and vocational rehabilitation services throughout the state. Under Governor LePage, the department has focused on connecting Mainers to jobs and helping businesses create jobs through strengthening our workforce development system, improving outreach to businesses and clarifying employment regulations.

-end-

The Preliminary Overview and Summery of Projects book includes summaries of the programs in each workforce area of the state with specific data and institutional impacts for particular hospitals and other health care and education partners. It profiles trainees and workers who have signed media releases. For information about the projects in your media market or to obtain a copy, contact Julie Rabinowitz, director of communication for the Maine Department of Labor, julie.rabinowitz@maine.gov.

More than one quarter of trainees were unemployed

Supporting documents

Ashley Clark, a registered nurse from Brunswick, Maine, participated in Mid Coast Hospital’s Nurse Residency Program, funded through the Health Care Sector Grant. The grant trained more than 1,000 health care workers across the state between March 2010 and June 2013.