Update: March 7, 2019
Maine's Public Health Nursing (PHN) Program provides vital services and supports to vulnerable populations both in the home and in the community. PHNs routinely provide maternal and child health support and education, adult health services, communicable disease control and refugee health services. Additionally, PHNs offer professional expertise within community and stakeholder groups, facilitate immunization clinics, and play an active role in protecting our communities in the event of disaster.
The Department will share regular updates on their critical work here, as we continue to rebuild and revitalize the PHN program.
DHHS has hired 12 nurses and nurse supervisors since September 2018. In total, the program has a current staff of 29 PHNs working throughout the state, and our reinvigorated hiring efforts continue.
A number of recruitment efforts are currently under way:
- Maine CDC developed "hot cards" to assist in the direct recruitment of qualified nurses. These business card-style cards are provided to PHN staff for distribution and are available at regional offices to encourage area nurses to apply for open positions.
- The PHN program is collaborating with the state's Bureau of Human Resources on weekly social media postings highlighting open positions.
- PHNs continue to regularly attend career fairs, most recently on March 7 at the University of Southern Maine.
- PHN is advertising in the American Nurses Association Journal to specifically target registered nurses. Additionally, available PHN positions will be posted on the ANA's online platform.
- The program is also running radio and digital ads to target recruitment in rural areas of the state. The radio ads can be heard here: www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/public-health-nursing/stakeholders.shtml
Updating Job Descriptions
PHN revised and reissued job descriptions for the positions of Public Health Nurse I and II. Those job postings can be viewed on the DHHS Jobs page here: www.maine.gov/dhhs/jobs
These new job descriptions provide a more robust outline of the duties and responsibilities of PHNs, with a focus on the core competencies and public health functions of the program. They are tailored to attract nurses who are interested in public service – a key component of public health nursing.
The new job descriptions resulted from stakeholder input, as part of the Department's ongoing efforts to engage the community in the program's rebuilding.
On February 21, DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew convened a stakeholder group to discuss the Department's strategic plan for the program and the best path forward to ensure it meets the needs of the state.
The discussion included how to better support public health nurses in the communities they serve, and the next steps required to put the PHN program on a path toward long-term success.
Representatives from state agencies, Maine hospitals, community partners, front-line public health nurses, and other interested stakeholders were in attendance.
Commissioner Lambrew also has convened a meeting later this month with public health nursing staff to gain further insights into their perspectives on the program's future.
Reorganizing the Program
The Department has reorganized the program to recognize it as its own division within the Maine CDC in an effort to signal to both internal and external parties the importance of PHN and its role in DHHS. Most recently, PHN oversight was consolidated under the program director to ensure a focus on meeting the mission of the program as dictated by statute. This most recent plan also ensures PHNs will be available statewide once capacity is adequate, and that nurses will have access to office space and supports within regional DHHS offices.
Improving the Referral System
Following the meeting with stakeholders, PHN received significant feedback surrounding the current referral system, and ways in which it could be improved. PHN is in the process of reviewing the system, known as CradleME, to identify gaps and solutions. For example, PHN is working with area hospitals to increase communication so providers know that when they refer a patient, appropriate follow up with that patient occurs. Additionally, the PHN program is working to review the current referral forms for the system, and looking to expand the information collected to ensure referrals receive all necessary supports and services by the appropriate agency.