In an effort to overcome the critical shortage of healthcare providers in Aroostook County and to help address the statewide nursing cliff, the University of Maine at Fort Kent and the University of Maine at Presque Isle are collaborating to launch a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program in Presque Isle starting in Fall 2018.

Temporary lab space is being prepared on the UMPI campus to accommodate an initial cohort of 16 nursing students this fall. Permanent lab space and planned program and facility improvements designed to achieve an ongoing increase in nursing and healthcare education capacity and attract more students to Aroostook County are contingent on voter approval of Question 4, the University of Maine System Workforce Development Infrastructure Investment Bond on the ballot this November. The proposal includes more than $7 million in planned investments at UMFK and UMPI.

Designed for those who aren’t able to travel to Fort Kent to complete a Nursing degree due to family and work responsibilities, this new program will allow students to complete all four years of the BSN on the UMPI campus. Program participants will be UMPI students for the first two years, then transition as UMFK students for the remaining two years. They will still take all of their courses on the Presque Isle campus for their last two years, but those courses will be delivered by UMFK Nursing faculty and students will graduate with their BSN from UMFK.

Space is still available and area residents interested in a local career in nursing are encouraged to contact the UMPI Admissions Office immediately at 207-768-9532 or umpi-admissions@maine.edu.

The UMFK-UMPI collaboration comes at an important time in the nursing field in Maine. The 2016 Maine Nursing Forecaster projects that Maine will face a shortage of approximately 3,200 registered nurses by 2025. A major factor impacting that statistic is age. The median age of Maine nurses in 2015 was 49; at that time, 10,984 nurses in Maine were aged 45 or over, compared to only 7,764 nurses aged 44 and under. The Nursing Workforce Forecast projects that Maine will need to increase its number of newly-licensed nurses by 20 percent each year to solve the projected nursing shortage and avoid impacts on care levels.

In building this program, UMPI and UMFK faculty and staff worked closely to ensure that students will be able to complete their General Education courses at UMPI, including foundation courses in science. The goal is to seamlessly transition them into UMFK for their final two years of courses, which are predominantly live and online Nursing courses, as well as Nursing clinicals.

As part of the program, UMFK Nursing faculty will hold regular office hours on the UMPI campus to assist with program coordination, student questions, and advising needs. In addition, Dr. Erin Soucy will have a presence on the UMPI campus to ensure academic oversight.

UMPI is developing temporary lab space on campus for a Nursing suite in Pullen Hall. The lab will include four hospital suites to allow students to practice psychomotor and clinical nursing skills in a mock hospital setting. Each suite will have a hospital bed, bedside table, overbed table, human patient simulator mannequin, and related equipment, including a needle disposal system, glove dispensing system, oxygen, and an IV pole.

This information was submitted to us as part of a press release. If you would like to share your community news or event with our audience, please email newspi@townsquaremedia.com.