MADAWASKA, Maine — An effort by Northern Maine Community College to stem a widespread nursing shortage and provide more nursing education opportunities for northern Maine residents will be promoted in the St. John Valley this week.
Officials from the Presque Isle college will join St. John Valley community leaders and representatives of health care organizations to launch the associate degree nursing program in a ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, at Madawaska High School.
More than a year ago, NMCC announced plans to deliver a two-year nursing program in the Valley. The college began offering core liberal arts courses to eight nursing students in the first St. John Valley group over the past 18 months. When the fall semester began, NMCC began offering its key nursing and clinical component courses to the students by videoconferencing technology.
The courses originate on the Presque Isle campus and are transmitted to the students in a Madawaska classroom. The delivery method of the nursing program in the Valley is similar to the way the college offers its program in southern Aroostook County at the Houlton Higher Education Center.
Jason Parent, director of development and college relations for NMCC, said the ceremony “is going to bring together everyone who has been instrumental in making this happen.”
Parent said the event will take place in the classroom used by the students and will allow the students and instructors to meet with key people at NMCC and some of the Valley’s long-term health care providers.
The health care facilities are serving as clinical sites for the students to complete hands-on work.
Also attending will be representatives from TD Bank, which contributed $100,000 to NMCC for the nursing program expansion.
“Through this initiative, Northern Maine Community College is working to fill two vital needs in northern Aroostook County: access to both health care and health education opportunities for people in the region,” said Larry Wold, president of TD Bank in Maine. “We are very pleased to assist with this effort.”
Tim Crowley, president of NMCC, said the college expanded the program after extensive study regarding the needs of the area.
Results of a survey conducted two years ago by the St. John Valley Adult and Community Education Collaborative among health care organizations in the Valley showed a high need for associate degree-level nursing and related health program offerings in the region.
The survey responses were confirmed, on a larger scale, during a statewide listening tour of rural Maine conducted by Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons.
The expansion of allied health education program offerings by NMCC was the first project to be funded through the TD Bank’s donation.
“Our efforts are designed to provide access to higher education and to meet a critical work force development need that will allow for area residents to fill local jobs,” Crowley said.
NMCC hired nursing instructor Sandra Pelletier of Fort Kent to work in Madawaska and supervise the eight students in the clinical sites. Along with being involved in clinical work, the new nursing students are helping to conduct in-home assessments of senior citizens. They will provide other services to the elderly, including a wellness event, in the coming months.