University Nursing Checkup: Maine’s Universities Drive Advancements Toward Five-Year Pledge to Double Nursing Enrollment

Enrollment push begins for expanded UMFK online RN to BSN Nursing Admissions letters in the mail for UMA’s new Rural Nursing Program $110,000 System grant to UMaine to fund nursing education lab at Machias campusUSM planning for investment for Nursing Simulation Lab expansion

Augusta, Maine — Maine’s public universities are making good on their pledge to double nursing enrollment over the next five years with investments and program expansions that are increasing nursing education capacity in Maine. Chancellor Page and the Presidents of the University of Maine System introduced the Maine University Nursing Workforce Plan last fall at the Wisdom Summit hosted by the Maine Council on Aging.

“Maine’s nursing shortage is projected to grow to 2,700 vacancies by 2025,” said James Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System. “Our universities are therefore expanding programs into underserved regions, offering new online nursing education and leadership learning opportunities for existing nurses, creating early college certificates to help high school students prepare for Maine health careers, and expanding partnerships with community healthcare providers to educate the nurses Maine needs to preserve access to quality healthcare in our communities.”

Apply Now for UMFK’s fully online RN to BSN Program:  The University of Maine at Fort Kent is expanding its fully online RN to BSN nursing program and launching an enrollment push for the Fall of 2019. The expanded program, developed in partnership with a global leader in technology-enabled education, provides nurses with an affordable way to complete their bachelor of science degree in nursing. Delivered in an accelerated, online format to meet the needs of working nurses, students can complete their program while maintaining full time employment. Students can apply at by August 20, 2019 and start the program on September 3rd.

Advancing more nurses to a BSN aligns with hiring preferences of healthcare providers who need more highly qualified nursing professionals to care for clinically complex cases. Providing more educational opportunities for existing providers also addresses the state need for more nursing workforce leaders and educators.
“We are pleased to be expanding an online RN to BSN program that is proven to work for career-focused adults who are already in the workforce,” said Erin Soucy, Dean of Undergraduate Nursing at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. “The expanded UMFK RN to BSN Online Program will provide nurses with better access to an affordable, quality Maine BSN completion degree that is trusted by providers and patients across the state.”

The University of Southern Maine is proceeding with plans to launch two fully online graduate programs in the Fall of 2020. USM’s will offer a Masters of Science in Nursing with a concentration in nursing education and a Masters of Science in Nursing with a concentration in nursing administration.  An entry point for RNs who do not hold a BSN/BS in Nursing will be established to provide existing Maine nurses with additional opportunities for education and career advancement.

UMA Bringing new pre-licensure nursing cohorts to Brunswick, Ellsworth, Rockland and Rumford:  The University of Maine at Augusta will be serving approximately 80 new pre-licensure nursing students this fall with the launch of its new BSN program. Maine’s nursing shortage is most acute in Maine’s rural coastal counties where 50% of the nurses are over the age of 55. UMA’s rural nursing expansion will bring new nursing cohorts to its centers in Brunswick, Ellsworth, Rockland and Rumford. Nursing education will also be available on the Augusta Campus.

“Our young family and our future are here in the Midcoast,” said Allie Feener, of Hope, Maine, who will be among the first nursing students enrolled in UMA’s Rural Nursing Cohort in Rockland starting this fall. “The expansion of nursing into Rockland means I can pursue my dream of becoming a nurse and having a career helping people in our community.”

UMFK / UMPI Nursing partnership expands Presque Isle cohort 50% in its second year:  Nursing education was expanded to the University of Maine at Presque Isle in the Fall of 2018, creating opportunities for 20 new nursing students in central Aroostook County. The partnership is expanding to enroll approximately 30 new nursing students in Presque Isle in the Fall 2019. UMPI will be investing over $500,000 in proceeds from the University Workforce Bond passed by voters last fall to improve healthcare classroom and laboratory spaces.

An Early College start to Maine healthcare careers:  The University of Maine at Machias and the University of Maine at Fort Kent have launched Maine Career Early College Certificates that allow high school students to explore and prepare for careers that lead directly to opportunities in Maine workforce.

High Fidelity Nursing Simulation Lab expansion at USM:  Proceeds from the University Workforce Bond passed by Maine voters in November are being invested in a nursing simulation lab expansion at the University of Southern Maine in Portland to increase enrollment. Final approval on the lab design is pending and the campus will be proceeding with the lab expansion soon. Nursing

Introduction Course Expanding To Lake Regional Vocational Center:  The USM School of Nursing is partnering with Lake Region Vocational Center in Naples, Maine, in the upcoming academic year to offer Introduction to Professional Nursing (NUR 100) to local students.  In what is known as dual enrollment, a qualified high school teacher from the center is supported by USM’s nursing faculty to deliver the course to students.
The students taking part in the class studied to become Certified Nursing Assistants as high school juniors in the center’s allied health program.  The early college partnership expands the curriculum options available to local students, provides an opportunity for students to earn free college credits, and strengthens the pipeline into Maine nursing careers.

USM hires new Associate Dean for its School of Nursing:  Dr. Brenda Petersen was hired last month to serve as the new associate dean of the School of Nursing at USM. She is an advanced practice nurse who holds a PhD in Health Sciences Leadership and is recognized as a visionary and innovative leader in nursing education. In 2018 Petersen was awarded the Beacon of Light Award for leadership, excellence, and community impact by the New Jersey State Nurses Association. Dr. Petersen joins USM with extensive experience in curriculum and program development, and she has served as primary investigator for close to a million dollars of grant funding related to college access, student success and innovation. $110,000

System grant for Nursing Education Lab in Machias:  The University of Maine System is providing a $110,000 grant to the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias to help fund a new nursing simulation lab at the Machias campus. Nursing education will be made available at the University of Maine at Machias in the 2019-20 academic year in partnership with the University of Maine School of Nursing. The first cohort in 2+2 Machias will begin at UMM in January 2020. Approximately 16 students who meet the UMaine School of Nursing admissions requirements will be admitted and, given academic performance, will continue the third and fourth years of their nursing studies at UMaine as they work toward a BSN.

$65,000 System grant for USM / UMA Clinical Immersion pilot project:  The University of Maine System is providing $65,000 to fund a clinical immersion pilot project that will provide 100 USM junior nursing students with individually-precepted hospital nursing clinical experience that more accurately mirrors post-graduation workplace responsibilities. Experienced clinical nurses will receive an educational stipend for participating in a preceptor education program being developed by nursing faculty at USM and UMA. The project will provide students with immersive, one-on-one mentorship experience that improves competency at the time of graduation while also decreasing the number of faculty needed per student cohort.  Expected provider partners include Maine Medical Center, Mid Coast Hospital, and Southern Maine Health Care. System grants are provided through the Strategic Resource Allocation Plan, a One University Initiative that has invested $31 million in administrative savings and excess investment income over six years into university priority projects including research, scholarship and workforce development.

Distributed 6/26/19
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