Division of Licensing and Certification

Update: November 25, 2019

Increasing the number of CNAs in Maine through collaboration

TheMaine Registry of Certified Nursing Assistant and Direct Care Workers (the "CNA Registry"), in partnership with the Maine State Board of Nursing and other key stakeholders, has been working for the past year to increase the number of active Certified Nursing Assistants ("CNA") in Maine. The work group identified barriers faced by out-of-state CNA applicants who are looking to work in Maine and implemented changes to reduce those barriers. This effort will help to address the state's health workforce challenges, which is a top economic priority of Governor Mills, a central issue for the Department of Health and Human Services, and the focus of the Long-Term Care Workforce Commission, on which DHHS Commissioner Lambrew serves.

DHHS's Division of Licensing and Certification maintains a CNA Registry (the "Registry"), per state and federal requirements. Over the last eight years, the Registry has included approximately 14,000 active CNAs in the state. Following the work group's review and revision of eligibility criteria for listing of CNAs trained out of state, the Registry has increased the number of out-of-state approvals to 1,200 this past year. The Registry now includes 15,118 active CNAs.

As part of the barrier review, CNA Registry and Board of Nursing found that nationally CNA course standards require a minimum of 75 hours of study, while in Maine the requirement was 180 hours of study. Additionally, outdated eligibility requirements relating to minimum training hours and years of experience resulted in the exclusion of recently certified out-of-state CNAs who met training standards, but had not yet completed 3 years of work, as well as experienced CNAs whose original training programs were fewer than 100 hours.

These Maine specific standards often resulted in out-of-state applicants having to retake a CNA course in Maine. Consequently, the Registry only approved 100 to 125 out-of-state CNA reciprocity applications annually, limiting the ability of health care facilities and agencies to bring in out-of-state temporary staff to help address workforce shortfalls.

DHHS's Division of Licensing and Certification also launched a new online Registry in May 2019. This change allows CNAs to apply and renew their licenses at their own convenience. With an increasing number of individuals opting to use the online portal, application processing times have dropped from 4-5 days to an average of 2 days.

In June, new regulations also went into effect to offer greater clarity on the waiver, appeal, and disqualification processes, and to update the Registry content. Additionally, these rules expand the scope of the Registry to include Direct Care Workers. The net effect of these changes is a more concise and effective tool for employers to make hiring decisions.