UMaine School of Nursing part of reestablished residency program to improve rural health care in Maine

A nurse practitioner (NP) residency program will be reestablished next year with the help of a $1.7 million grant to Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC), in partnership with the University of Maine School of Nursing, Harrington Family Health Center and Hometown Health Center in Newport.

The program, made possible by a U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration grant, has the potential to impact patients in at least five Maine counties — Penobscot, Somerset, Washington, Waldo and Piscataquis counties. PCHC last had a nurse practitioner residency program in 2014.

“NPs are experienced registered nurses who receive intensive graduate didactic education and clinical training in preparation to provide safe, high-quality, patient-centered, evidence-based care across the lifespan,” says UMaine assistant professor of nursing Kelley Strout. “Patients who require care from NPs in Maine are more likely to be on Medicaid, uninsured or underinsured, live in poverty, experience multiple chronic conditions, and/or substance use disorders compared to those in other geographic areas of the country. Currently, NPs are expected to assume the care of a full-panel of 700–1,200 complex patients with little to no on-the-job orientation or training.” 

The nurse practitioner residency program will provide an intensive clinical residency focused in primary care with robust, specialized didactic and clinical experiences aligned to meet the complex needs of Maine’s patient population, says Strout. “Long term, our residency program will aim to improve the first-year experience for new NP providers to reduce burnout and turnover, and ensure that patients in the state and region continue to receive the highest quality health care they deserve.”

The 12-month nurse practitioner residency program will begin accepting applicants in December, providing additional opportunities for UMaine graduate students in the School of Nursing’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program. Historically, UMaine has graduated between three and five NPs per year. Since 2017, in an effort to meet the state’s health needs, the School of Nursing increased enrollment with a goal to graduate 10 NPs annually. 

In 2018, 90 percent of NPs who graduated from UMaine lived and practiced in Maine. 

The residency program is designed to build a pathway between UMaine School of Nursing NP program and PCHC. Students in the final year of the UMaine graduate program will be invited to apply to complete their final year of required clinical rotations at PCHC and enter the residency upon graduation. UMaine students accepted into the residency will receive stipends to offset tuition and education expenses. 

In year one, UMaine NP students will be recruited to have an opportunity to participate in the development of the residency program. 

Two of the four nurse practitioner residents per year will be graduates from UMaine School of Nursing NP program. They will receive training in PCHC’s federally qualified health centers, as well as Hometown Health Center, serving Canaan, Dover-Foxcroft, Newport and Pittsfield, and Harrington Family Health Center, serving Washington County communities. 

PCHC will hire a residency director, who also will teach a graduate course in the UMaine School of Nursing NP program to further strengthen the academic-practice partnership, which will provide current and relevant training opportunities for students. 

A news release about the award is online.

In addition, a news release about nursing education initiatives statewide to address Maine’s nursing shortage is online.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745