Class of nurses enter the Aroostook County workforce

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 9:28 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - NMCC is addressing the current nursing shortage in Aroostook County with their Licensed Practical Nursing program, which is funded and supported by the Maine Department of Labor. 23 students had their pinning ceremony on September 15, marking the completion of the 2023 course.

“There is already a tightness in the labor market for healthcare jobs, which is the largest sector in Maine,” explains Samantha Dina, the Director of Special Projects for the Maine Department of Labor. “As our Mainers age the need to provide high quality care is going to continue to grow.”

An LPN is a nursing certification that is between a CNA and an RN. This 9-month program aims to keep healthcare workers in the field by advancing individuals in their career. “It opens up a lot of new job opportunities as well as new salaries,” says Cole Johnson, an LPN student at NMCC. “There is a lot of home help where I live and a lot of nursing care and nursing homes that require a lot of LPNs and RNs.”

Tim Crowley, the President of NMCC, explains that the program sets students up for a job after graduation. “Healthcare providers are talking to these students while they’re in their clinical rotations before they get to this point,” Crowley says. “I would guess if you ask this class when they’re on the stage how many have a job today, that 95% will raise their hand.”

Crowley explains that many of these students will stay and work in Aroostook County after gaining their certification. “[I’m] real excited about this class that’s graduating, getting ready to enter the job market and help with the shortage of nurses in our area . . . most of these students are going to stay right here which is another benefit of this program.”

At least 18 nurses will join the Aroostook County workforce from the 2023 LPN class, which will positively impact local facilities that employ LPNs. According to Allison Folsom, the Practical Nursing Program Coordinator, agencies in Aroostook County previously did not hire many LPNs. “There is such a big nursing shortage and luckily for we’ve had a lot of local facilities have started hiring LPNs,” says Folsom. “I think because of this program place that may not have hired LPNs before are realizing how they can incorporate LPNs into their healthcare facilities.”

In addition to job opportunities, this program encourages students to further their healthcare education in Aroostook County, especially if students decide to pursue a Register Nurse certification. Jovelyn Latour, an LPN student at NMCC, explains that she is interested in pursuing more education after gaining some hands-on experience. “I’m also planning to enroll in the nursing program since LPNs are given a standing or advantage to be accept on the ADN program at NMCC, but we need at least a year of experience, and after that I’m going to try and apply,” Latour says.

Jessica Picard, the Communications Manager for the Maine Department of Labor, recommends that people who are interested in furthering their education in healthcare visit the Healthcare Training for ME website for additional free resources. The Maine Department of Labor hopes that offering affordable education to healthcare workers will not only improve the healthcare sector in Maine but will address the nursing shortage in Aroostook County.