Highlights from Maine’s Healthcare Workforce Strategy

Maine's Department of Health and Human Services sent a recent update of the state's health care workforce efforts. Below includes highlights from that report. 

Many of the health care workforce initiatives are part of the Mills Administration's 
Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP) launched by Governor Mills to address Maine's workforce challenges, which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MJRP dedicated more than $300 million for workforce programs, including $20 million to directly strengthen Maine's vital health care workforce and improve health care for Maine people. 

Healthcare Workforce Attraction Campaign ($2.5M): DHHS led this public-private partnership that leverages additional provider funding in collaboration with the Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Healthcare Association, and the Maine Primary Care Association. The initial phase of the campaign focused on engaging young people in Maine to explore careers in the health care sector through development of a health care job board and multimedia outreach campaign that resulted in nearly 60,000 job views for positions in the health care sector and 700 applications to health care jobs.

Direct Care Worker Campaign ($3.5M): This statewide multimedia campaign promotes direct care and behavioral health career opportunities. The initial phase of the campaign Caring for ME rolled out in 2021 as a partnership with the Maine DOL. The current and future phases of the Direct Care Worker campaign are largely funded by FMAP dollars and will promote and elevate careers in Home and Community Based Settings.

Healthcare Training for ME Partnership ($8M administered by DOL, leverages other funding to MCCS): DHHS works closely with DOL, Adult Education (DOE), MCCS, and UMS to coordinate a centralized approach to health care career training opportunities and tuition funding. Healthcare Training for ME launched in April 2022 to connect current health care workers in front line patient-facing roles with funding for training to attain certifications and credentials they need to move up the career ladder, resulting in better retention rates and improved quality of care. Through the Healthcare Training for ME partnership, more than 4,000 individuals are currently enrolled in or completed free or reduced cost training to begin or advance their health care careers.

Credential Alignment ($2.5M): DHHS launched the Worker Portability and Advancement initiative to create a base credential usable by individuals in at least two current roles: Personal Support Specialist (PSS) and Direct Support Professional (DSP), with consideration also being given to developing a base credential for Mental Health and Rehabilitation Technician (MHRT) I.

Curriculum Redesign ($300K): Working in close collaboration with providers and training partners, DHHS is redesigning health care training curricula to standardize required certifications for front line positions such as DSP, MHRT, Behavioral Health Professional (BHP), and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) with college credit bearing courses and “stackable credentials.”

Provider Loan Repayment and Scholarship Fund ($4M administered through FAME): The Maine Health Care Provider Loan Repayment Pilot Program provides one-time funds to support rebuilding Maine's health care industry workforce. The program, funded through a combination of MJRP funds and funding allocated by the Legislature through the biennial budget, will attract and retain health care professionals in Maine by repaying outstanding student loans of selected participants who commit to living and working in Maine for at least three years. FAME will pay up to $25,000 per year or, in aggregate, the lesser of $75,000 or 50 percent of the recipient's outstanding loan balance. FAME also administers the Doctors for Maine's Future Scholarship as well as additional loan reimbursement programs for health care professionals through the Maine Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program and the Maine Dental Education Loan Repayment Program.  

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