Top Maine Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs
Maine is a very rural state and just as with many other rural areas, has a number of medically underserved areas. Yet, despite being rural, only 55.62% of people actually live in that area. Hence, although there is a nursing shortage in the state, it seems to be less severe than in other states.
At the same time, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has warned that the shortage of nurses in Maine could become far more significant over the coming years, particularly as the baby boom generation has reached retirement age. During the recession, many of those ready for retirement decided to remain in work for financial security. As a result, more people than ever are now retiring as the crisis has passed.
Unfortunately, this upcoming shortage of nurses could potentially affect the current Maine healthcare workforce very significantly. There are a number of federal initiatives in place to address this, including the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which is helping to turn the tide somewhat. In Maine, however, additional efforts are being made by state policy makers and nurse leaders in order to create a “preferred future” for the nursing workforce. One of the things they are focusing on is creating a larger workforce of nurse educators, because some 246 qualified applicants were not able to enroll in school due to a shortage of faculty staff.
There is a dire need for more highly educated nurses as well, with only 8% of the 23,073 registered nurses in the state being Advanced Practice Nurses. Hence, those who have a master’s degree are in particularly high demand. Additionally, the state is committed to ensuring the majority of its nursing workforce as at least a bachelor’s degree.
One issue that the state is facing is that the nursing salary, averaging at $56,000 per year, is 12% below the national average. Although the cost of living is also lower in Maine, this is a particularly worrying trend as it is making it difficult for employers to attract new staff. Indeed, the highest earning nurses are those who work in the private sector, including insurance companies, whereas the largest demand is in community care settings and hospitals.
The highest earning nurses in Maine are the cardiac catheterization nurses and the lowest earners are the medical surgery nurses. However, salaries have shown a significant trend of growth since October 2013, when they reached their all time low. This is hoped to attract new people to the workforce as well.