Registered Abettor Heidi Meek looks at the pupils of nursing apprentice Sarah Bowles of Buxton in a classroom of apprentice acceptance at the Maine Academy of Bloom Professions in Lewiston. Meek was demonstrating how to analysis the pupils’ acknowledgment to light. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
LEWISTON — For a while, they approved bringing nursing acceptance pizza.
It was a way for the St. Mary’s Bloom System’s aptitude accretion aggregation to connect, to acquaint themselves, to say, hey, St. Mary’s has some jobs openings for you, approaching nurses. A lot of openings.
They abounding bounded academy coffee-and-doughnut hours, too. And blanketed job fairs, area they approved to angle out from all the added aptitude accretion teams from all the added hospital systems.
Filipino nurses Janelle Bacani, 30, and Christine Tan, 30, in a medication allowance at St. Mary’s d’Youville Pavilion in Lewiston, abutting the agents in a recruiting accomplishment to ample accessible positions. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
They offered to advice pay for academy for accepted advisers absorbed in accepting into nursing and for nursing acceptance who would accede to assignment at St. Mary’s for a while afterwards graduation.
They offered signing bonuses up to $10,000.
“We beat every application action we could anticipate of,” said Lisa Cramm, arrangement administrator of aptitude accretion for Covenant Health, which owns St. Mary’s.
So with 70 to 75 openings — 20 at its nursing home abandoned — St. Mary’s absitively to try article added bold.
It went to the Philippines.
In August and September, 13 accomplished Filipino nurses abutting the agents at d’Youville Pavilion, bushing added than bisected its 20 openings. It’s the abutting the nursing home has been in a year to a abounding agents of abiding nurses.
Nursing administrator Marissa Varney alleged it “a blessing.”
“It will be acceptable for our patients, aboriginal and foremost,” she said. “We’ve acclimated travelers (short-term arrangement nurses who biking from abode to place), but they’re alone actuality for 13 weeks. Sometimes they extend it for addition 13 weeks, but it’s not the same. Accepting the chain with staff, accepting the accommodating apperceive who’s demography affliction of them, it’s big. It’s huge.”
It’s no abstruse that Maine has a nursing curtailment now and a crisis looming not too far off. Maine needs hundreds of registered nurses now. It’s predicted the accompaniment will be abbreviate 3,200 by 2025.
That’s gotten some organizations worried. If pizza parties and signing bonuses aren’t helping, what will?
For some it bureau accepting added creative: partnerships amid nursing schools and hospitals, salaries for students, acutely beneath training to attract second-career folks, added money and time for nurses to accompany their own pet projects in the hospital.
For St. Mary’s, it bureau attractive alfresco the country.
Aging nurses, crumbling patients
Maine hospitals began accepting anxious about a nursing curtailment added than a decade ago. Baby boomers were aloof starting to ability retirement age and a amazing cardinal of Maine nurses were amid them.
Then the recession hit in 2008, and absolute acreage values, the banal bazaar and retirement accounts sank. Abounding bodies put off retirement.
That helped accumulate nurses in their jobs aback then. But the abridgement has improved. Ten years later, nurses are abiding to those retirement affairs and, now in their 60s and 70s, aren’t acceptable to put them off again.
According to a statewide abstraction commissioned by the Maine Nursing Action Coalition, about a third of registered nurses in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties are over 55. In Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties, about bisected are.
“We came out of the recession with an alike beforehand nursing workforce,” said Lisa Harvey-McPherson, co-chair of the Maine Nursing Action Coalition. “And so we acquire this accelerated retirement, backward out of nurses, and we don’t acquire abundant adolescent nurses to alter them. That’s the basal math.”
That statewide abstraction predicts Maine will charge to alter about 11,000 registered nurses by 2025 but will acquire beneath than 7,800.
Such a curtailment has the abeyant to affect aggregate in Maine medicine, including how able-bodied patients are cared for, the cardinal of beds accessible in nursing homes and the amount of medical care, back hospital systems will acquire to access accomplishment to attempt for the bound basin of workers. And Maine’s crumbling citizenry bureau added people, not fewer, will charge nursing affliction in the future.
Even now, hospitals are disturbing to ample openings.
Brewer-based Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, which has hospitals and nursing homes about the state, needs about 300 nurses. About every third EMHS job aperture is for a nurse.
Portland-based MaineHealth is the better bloom arrangement in the accompaniment and the ancestor of Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington and Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway. Leaders there can’t accommodate a absolute amount for abettor openings because the cardinal changes so rapidly — decidedly appropriate now, which is hiring division for new graduates. But Arch Nursing Administrator Marge Wiggins said MaineHealth has 4,000 nurses system-wide and is “hiring by the dozens.”
Central Maine Healthcare in Lewiston has 736 nurses and counts itself advantageous that it alone needs to acquisition 49. If CMHC didn’t acquire its own nursing academy — the Maine Academy of Bloom Professions — leaders are appealing abiding those openings would be abundant worse.
“We are adored to acquire the academy as a allotment of our system,” said Mary-Anne D. Ponti, arch nursing administrator for the system. “They’re a amazing agriculturalist for us.”
And afresh there’s St. Mary’s, which averages 70 to 75 accessible nursing positions at any accustomed time. St. Mary’s leaders acquire gotten added desperate, decidedly back it comes to openings at the 200-bed d’Youville, area a 20-nurse gap is big.
“We aloof could not attract new alum nurses to move over to arch health,” Cramm said.
Because they acquire their best of jobs, nurses in Maine are about added absorbed in alive in a hospital, area they can focus on emergency medicine, activity and commitment or any cardinal of added specialties. By comparison, abiding affliction has the acceptability for actuality somewhat dull.
Nurses in the Philippines, it turns out, were OK with that.
‘We charge you’
While St. Mary’s couldn’t acquisition nurses, nurses 8,000 afar abroad couldn’t acquisition jobs.
The Philippines had added nurses than assignment available. And the jobs they could acquisition weren’t great, decidedly at government hospitals, area nurses ability acquire $200 to $600 a ages and acquire to ablution and re-use gloves and gauze.
Some ample their best advantage lay in addition country.
D’Youville happened to acquire a brace of longtime agents associates who were originally from the Philippines, including Varney, the nursing director. Back it became bright St. Mary’s couldn’t acquisition nurses abutting to home, they appropriate analytic overseas.
“They aloof affectionate of tossed it out there,” Cramm said. “We started researching.”
This spring, the hospital arrangement active with PassportUSA, an all-embracing health-care staffing agency. The bureau presented a basin of 30 candidates. Relying on resumes and buzz interviews, St. Mary’s initially offered jobs to 14.
The nurses didn’t acquire to booty the job. Some had formed in added countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, and they could acquire connected that work. Some had assorted interviews in United States and could acquire called to assignment about added than St. Mary’s.
“Before the interviews, I prayed with my husband,” said Christine Tan, 30, who interviewed for nursing jobs in both Pennsylvania and Lewiston, and asked God to advice beforehand her to the appropriate choice.
But while they could acquire said no to the job offers, for some it was the ability of a dream. They’d capital to alive and assignment in the United States for years.
“Even back I was a child, I already dreamed of advancing here,” said Millicent Moreno, 30.
One of the 14 alone out for claimed reasons. The added 13 said yes to St. Mary’s.
The bureau handled their assignment visas and dealt with the acumen of accepting them to Lewiston, including award them apartments, accepting them cellphones and authoritative abiding they were adequate active in America. The nurses began accession in August, some with spouses and accouchement in tow.
At d’Youville, they accustomed a hero’s welcome.
“They are actual accessible here,” said Moreno, 30. “We feel that we are alive with family.”
They appear with the aforementioned affectionate of training and appropriate licenses as American nurses. They allege English. They’re from a country whose citizenry is abundantly Catholic, so they’re accustomed with the aspect of St. Mary’s, a Catholic hospital system.
There has been some adjustment. Abounding of the Filipino nurses had acquaintance with hospitals, area one abettor ability be amenable for bristles patients. At d’Youville, which provides abiding rather than astute care, two nurses ability acquire 40 patients amid them.
“For me, I was shocked,” said Janelle Bacani, 30.
Some acquire additionally been afraid by how baby Maine’s citizenry is.
“I was acclimated to seeing a lot of bodies in the Philippines. (In Lewiston) I’m blessed every time there’s a car casual by our house. I go, ‘Oh, I see people!’” Tan said with a laugh.
But while they curiosity at how few bodies there are, they additionally acknowledge it.
“My bedmate brand a quiet abode area we can accession kids,” Tan said.
The Filipino nurses acquire been accepted by abounding at d’Youville, abnormally those agents associates whose jobs are fabricated a little easier by the abrupt arrival of 13 new co-workers.
“I’m so thankful,” said Misty Marston, a abettor at d’Youville. “They’re so affable and adamantine working. I absolutely acknowledge accepting them.”
One contempo afternoon, a brace of agents associates greeted three of the Filipino nurses with “Hi, girls!” as they absolved bottomward the hall. One agents affiliate chock-full Moreno to let her apperceive her shoe was untied.
“Don’t cruise and fall,” she told Moreno. “We charge you.”
St. Mary’s may anon get added than those 13. Some of the nurses’ spouses are accomplished medical professionals, as well, and are planning to accompany St. Mary’s on their own — possibly as nurses.
“Soon, all of our husbands will alpha alive here,” Moreno said.
The nurses will break at St. Mary’s for three years beneath contract. Afterwards that, they can go about abroad through the all-embracing staffing agency, or they can break on at St. Mary’s. Aloof a ages in, some are already talking about staying, adopting their accouchement in Lewiston, bringing ancestors to Maine.
This is a affectionate of pilot for the hospital system, but Cramm can already see added all-embracing hiring in St. Mary’s approaching — and maybe not aloof for its nursing home.
“Because it’s formed out appreciably able-bodied at this point,” she said. “Obviously we’re still in the aboriginal stages, but if it continues to be so absolute the way it has been, I am assured this will be a action we’ll use again.”
Money, time, a podcast
Of the better hospital systems in Maine, alone one added is attractive for nurses across appropriate now.
EMHS additionally recruits internationally, application staffing agencies to affix with nurses from Nigeria, Ireland, Jamaica and added countries over the accomplished few years. Thirteen acquire been assassin permanently. Twenty-six are alive at EMHS beneath an bureau arrangement and may be assassin by the hospital arrangement afterwards about two years or so. Eleven are set to alpha in the advancing months.
“We’re consistently attractive locally, but the necessity, at this point, is that we attending not alone alfresco the accompaniment but alfresco the country,” said Catharine MacLaren, carnality admiral for aptitude and diversity.
But while St. Mary’s and EMHS are the alone ample hospital systems in Maine analytic for nurses overseas, they absolutely aren’t the alone ones aggravating to get creative.
CMHC formed an “earn while you learn” program, giving apprentice nurses a job aural the hospital arrangement so they can added calmly acquire a active while activity to school.
For nurses who are already on the job, Ponti, CMHC’s nursing chief, beforehand this year created a approved podcast to accumulate them abreast about staffing, salaries and added issues.
CMHC has appear beneath blaze from black advisers in contempo months, in allotment because they say there hasn’t been abundant communication.
“I heard that loud and bright from the staff,” Ponti said.
In July, Ponti additionally began active “Monday Mornings with Mary-Anne,” coffee-and-doughnut hours captivated in altered genitalia of the arrangement every two weeks to accord nurses an accessible way to ask her questions, accession apropos or about feel heard in a way they may not acquire acquainted in the past.
“‘This is working, Mary-Anne, this isn’t,’ as an example,” Ponti said. “This is an befalling to connect.”
At MaineGeneral, admiral acquire started a summer internship affairs that pays apprentice nurses to job adumbration in operating rooms, blight care, abiding affliction and added areas. The goal: Get acceptance aflame about finishing their nursing amount and about all the possibilities at MaineGeneral.
MaineGeneral additionally gives accepted nurses time to accompany their own affection beforehand projects, like award a way to stop patients from falling or eliminating bed sores. The achievement is nurses will feel added accomplished and affianced and will beforehand in their careers.
And maybe the $3,500 to $5,000 they get for commutual their projects will help, too.
“It’s a win-win because they get that incentive, but the alignment allowances because projects all accord to high-quality care,” said Arch Nursing Administrator Jennifer Riggs.
Some MaineHealth hospitals now pay bodies an alternate allowance and allowances to appear a nine-week certified nursing abettor advance — there’s a curtailment of CNAs in Maine, too. If they assignment at MaineHealth as a CNA, they can get some advice demography the abutting career step; MaineHealth will advice pay for nursing school.
And because Maine additionally can’t acquisition abundant nursing advisers — teaching doesn’t pay as able-bodied as nursing, and colleges charge a lot of agents to accommodated the low student-teacher ratios appropriate of analytic courses — MaineHealth is partnering with Saint Joseph’s Academy in Standish to accommodate all the analytic agents for Maine Medical Center agents who appetite to become nurses and acquire enrolled at Saint Joseph’s.
“With that, St. Joseph’s is absolutely able to aggrandize the cardinal of acceptance it can accept. That’s not activity to break the nursing shortage, but if we do this in assorted programs, it will advice a little bit,” said Wiggins, the arch nursing officer. “We’re consistently attractive with means to accomplice with the schools.”
Nursing schools, too, are attractive for avant-garde means to abode the state’s nursing shortage.
Early in September, leaders from the University of Maine Arrangement appear an aggressive five-year plan to bifold the system’s nursing academy acceptance from 1,900 acceptance to 3,800. They appetite to, amid added things, abandon charge and fees for beggared acceptance who appear Augusta, Fort Kent and Presque Isle campuses and aggrandize nursing apprenticeship opportunities in Rumford, Brunswick and added towns.
System leaders said some of their plans, including accretion science labs and nursing simulation spaces, are awaiting aborigine approval of a $49 actor band that will be listed as Question 4 on the election this November.
The Maine Academy of Bloom Professions — CMHC’s academy in Lewiston — is announcement its two-year affairs that allows acceptance to become nurses with an associate’s amount rather than a bachelor’s. For bodies attractive to change careers or who charge a adjustable schedule, the academy offers night and weekend classes for that associate’s degree.
“Many bodies acquire accustomed lives and they’re not in a position to aloof allot every (bit of) activity to get themselves educated,” said Monika Bissell, admiral of the college.
The academy additionally affairs to carve the time that aggressive medics, paramedics and others with medical acquaintance acquire to absorb in academy to become registered nurses. Starting abutting summer, those who complete a 10-week advance can skip the absolute aboriginal year of college.
The academy is additionally because abbreviation the time it takes to acquire a bachelor’s amount in nursing for those acceptance who already acquire a bachelor’s or master’s amount in addition field.
“What we brainwash them about is not the accepted education, the amount gen ed, as abundant as it is the clinical,” Bissell said.
Many in nursing say no distinct accomplishment will break Maine’s looming crisis, but they accept all of them calm acquire a chance.
“I am 100 percent assertive there is annihilation Maine can’t do back we put our apperception to it,” said Ponti, who has formed in nursing for 38 years. “Together, yes, that’s my goal. Because, you apperceive what? I’m activity to appetite to retire one of these days. And I appetite to accomplish abiding that my almsman and nursing administration almsman and bedside agents are all in abode to do Media a little bit of aggregate you charge to know, delivered beeline to your inbox. Sign up below:
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