Programs from Finance Authority of Maine offer scholarships and student loan relief to help Maine attract and retain nurse educators and health care professionals in medicine, dentistry, and behavioral health
Coopers Mills, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills today announced two initiatives from her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to attract and retain health care professionals in Maine.
The first initiative, offered through the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), provides student loan repayment assistance to health care professionals in medicine, dentistry, behavioral health, and nursing education. Under the initiative’s programs, health care professionals can apply for up to $75,000 in relief for qualifying student loan debt while nursing educators can receive up to $40,000. To be eligible, nursing educators or health care professionals must be working in Maine or must commit to working in Maine for at least three years.
The Governor today also announced that she is boosting funding by $2 million for FAME’s Doctors for Maine’s Future Scholarship, which awards up to $25,000 in annual scholarships to students enrolled in the Tufts University School of Medicine Maine Medical Center Maine Track Program and the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. The infusion of funding into the program will allow FAME to immediately increase the number of scholarships back to the historical average of eight per year and maintain that level of assistance for five years longer than would have been possible without the funding.
The Governor made the announcement at Sheepscot Valley Health Center in Coopers Mills. Since 1980, Sheepscot Valley Health Center has been serving residents of all ages from Coopers Mills, Jefferson, Somerville, Washington, Whitefield, Windsor, and other surrounding communities. Sheepscot Valley Health Center is a part of HealthReach Community Health Centers, a group of twelve Federally Qualified Health Centers located across Central and Western Maine.
“A strong, high-quality health care system is essential to the health of Maine people and the health of our economy. Health care provides meaningful, important work, and, as the pandemic has shown us, it’s work that’s more crucial than ever before. But for too many people, the cost of the education puts health care professions out of reach,” said Governor Mills. “These scholarships and loan relief programs will bring more Maine people – especially young people – into the health care workforce and enable them to live and practice in communities across our state.”
“The impact of COVID-19 on Mainers cannot be underestimated, and our health care workforce has been at the forefront from the very first case,” said Carlos Mello, Acting CEO at FAME. “These programs will help some of those who see health care as a calling to be able to continue to do this important work with less worry about student debt.”
“For many years, health care facilities across the state have grappled with a shortage of workers, a challenge that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “Attracting new health professionals, and helping others afford to teach the next generation of providers, will ensure that Maine people can continue to access quality health care long into the future.”
“The Mills Administration’s plan to invest in the health care workforce will enable providers to grow, innovate and transform care,” said Darcy Shargo, CEO of the Maine Primary Care Association. “Overcoming workforce shortages is the first step in ensuring greater access to primary and preventive care and ultimately improved health outcomes across the state.”
“Maine’s physicians thank Governor Mills for her commitment and vision to keep doctor’s offices open throughout the state during the pandemic,” said Andrew MacLean, CEO of the Maine Medical Association. “The uncertainty and unknowns posed by COVID-19 hit small community physicians harder and staffing shortages continue. The recruitment and retention efforts of the Governor’s Jobs Plan couldn’t come at a better time for patients across Maine.”
“With education costs for clinical training often outpacing other skillsets, student loan debt among health care workers is a significant burden for many. We need to do everything that we can to strengthen our health care workforce both now and in the future,” said Timothy Dentry, President and CEO of Northern Light Health. “The student loan repayment and scholarships provided by the Mills Administration through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan will help retain existing health care workers and recruit new workforce members in the future.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put tremendous pressure on every aspect of our health care system and has exacerbated a longstanding workforce crisis in Maine,” said Dr. Andy Mueller, CEO of MaineHealth. “The Doctors for Maine’s Future Scholarship program and the student loan repayment programs represent strategic and collaborative investments in debt relief for our future health care workforce that exemplify our vision of ‘Working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.”
To see full eligibility information and apply for the student loan relief programs, please visit FAME’s website. Applications are open now through September 1. To apply for the Doctors for Maine’s Future Program, students should contact their medical school.
This announcement marks the third part a broader $20 million effort from the Governor’s Jobs Plan to strengthen Maine’s health care workforce, which she first announced in October 2021, including:
- In April, Governor Mills announced Healthcare Training for ME, an initiative to connect individuals and employers with training for health care careers through programs such as adult education, community colleges, and public universities. Through the program, individuals and employers may receive tuition assistance to enroll in career training, or offer career training to their employees, at little or no cost. Maine’s Department of Labor is also creating health care career navigators to help people interested in health care fields determine the right career path for them.
- Last month, the Mills Administration launched two health care career campaigns to promote health care jobs as a pathway to a rewarding career, particularly for young people in Maine, as part of an initiative to address workforce challenges through public-private partnerships with providers.
- Bolstering access to health care by incentivizing rural health care organizations to offer clinical training and take on students for clinical rotations and residency programs.
Governor Mills also worked with the Legislature to make strategic investments in MaineCare rates that support providers in paying direct care workers 125 percent of minimum wage, and to deliver an additional $121 million in bonus payments for recruitment and retention of home- and community-based care providers.
The Governor, with the approval of the Legislature, is also providing two years of free community college to high school students from the classes of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 – which can help provide an affordable education to students interested in entering the health care field.
Later today, Governor Mills is also visiting Washburn Doughty in East Boothbay, touring Bigelow Labs in East Boothbay, and stopping by LCI in Nobleboro. The Governor’s events in Lincoln County come as she travels across the state. The Governor has visited Penobscot, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, Kennebec, York, Somerset, and Androscoggin counties.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.
It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.
For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) provides innovative financial solutions to help Maine residents pursue business and educational opportunities. FAME helps to lead the creation of good paying jobs by working at the nexus between economic and workforce development.