Building Bridges to Grow our Future Workforce

two women smiling and talking to each other in a hospital hallway

Nurse Brianna Doty chats with a colleague at Maine Medical Center.

What surprised Brianna Doty most when becoming a registered nurse at Maine Medical Center was how much she would have an effect on peoples’ lives. “I didn’t realize all the opportunities there are in a 12-hour shift,” said Doty.

Doty participated in the New Graduate Nurse Residency Program, which was created nearly a decade ago to serve as an adjunct to the traditional clinical orientation experience to support new nurses. As the program has evolved, MaineHealth has recognized the increasing complexity of the evolving health care environment and the extreme challenges associated with recruiting and retaining nurses.

“The program bridges the learnings of the classroom with the reality of caring for patients on the floor,” explained Doty. “You can ask questions, apply and cultivate what you learned in class, and, in turn, learn to advocate for your patients, your team and yourself.”

Doty credits the program for providing her the confidence and patience for handling the variety of responsibilities of caring for multiple patients, along with envisioning the possibilities for a thriving, fulfilling career. “My colleagues and I can say to each other, ‘I see that too’ or ‘I feel the same way.’ We encourage and support each other to do our best work.”

Like many nurses, Doty was driven to a health care career by a sense of purpose, to make the world a better place. Empowering front line nurses to be part of the conversation and part of the solution is one of the ways MaineHealth is growing the practice of nursing and retaining nurses, according to Chief Nursing Officer Sharon Baughman.

Over the past couple of years, sustaining a robust workforce has become one of the primary challenges in health care. The shortage of available labor in the local market, and nationally, has only been exacerbated by the pandemic impact of more health care workers choosing to leave the profession for other fields or leaving the workforce altogether.

Attracting and Retaining Talent: Opportunities for Growth

“Our role includes ensuring we are attracting the best talent, making inroads for a warm ‘day one’ experience and securing a career path,” said Helene Kennedy, Vice President of Talent. “Ongoing career development is an important part of the whole package we offer at MaineHealth.”

Kennedy explained that in our recruitment efforts, we share what it is like to work here and what a difference it can make in peoples’ lives. The messaging, or MaineHealth’s “employer brand,” revolves around what we do and what we do for each other – changing lives for patients, supporting each other and promoting our fellow care team members’ fullest potential through development.

As one of the largest integrated health systems in Northern New England, MaineHealth provides comprehensive career services within a stable organization. “The unique value we offer is the many opportunities and how we support those opportunities with education, or opening doors with career navigation and pathways for growth,” said Kennedy. These efforts, along with expanded well-being programs and leadership development opportunities, are making an impact; MaineHealth has seen a 10% increase in external job applications over the past year.

Changing Lives

Learn more about one of the most dedicated and collaborative teams in health care. Our care team members care for each other as much as they care for our communities. Every day, they help and support one another in life-changing work.

Career Paths at MaineHealth

Listen to Monica Russo, Vice President of Ambulatory Operations for MaineHealth’s Southern Region, describe the different career opportunities presented to her by MaineHealth.

Monica Russo

Monica Russo

Summer Camp Experience Inspires Career

Taylor Harris, CCC-SLP, first became interested in a health-related career at age 15 after attending Franklin Memorial Hospital’s summer “Scrub Club,” a health careers exploration camp. She participated in the club’s engaging and interactive experiences that included CPR and first aid training, lab analysis, casting and simulation of an emergency response.

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Taylor Harris volunteering with students at summer Scrub Club.

After graduating high school, Harris continued her education at the University of Maine Farmington. Majoring in community health education, her program required a 12-week internship, which she chose to complete at Franklin Memorial Hospital.

“That experience not only exposed me to more interesting facets of health care, but to inspiring personal connections with professionals,” said Harris. “It wasn’t until I shadowed a speech therapist that I realized that was the profession I wanted to pursue.” She subsequently completed a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders at the University of Maine.

In 2018, Taylor returned to the familiar surroundings of Franklin Memorial Hospital to embark on a speech-language pathologist career.

Now Taylor enthusiastically volunteers her time for “Scrub Club” each summer to be a mentor for students and to help them explore their potential work interests. It’s her hope that their experiences create interest in the medical field and ultimately, a passion for rewarding careers in health care like she has achieved.

Talent Acquisition by the Numbers (Oct. 1, 2022 – July 31, 2023)

Current workforce development initiatives include partnerships with various educational institutions and colleges, and ongoing partnerships with organizations like Jobs for Maine Graduates. We use their outreach programs to further educate students, teachers and parents on health care career opportunities.

1 - Demands
Meeting the demands of today’s job market:

Nursing Graduate Program with a concierge onboarding focus – hired nearly 400 new graduate nurses

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2 - Bridge
New Bridge Program:

Helped transition both travel and other nurses into regular employment – over 130 nurses in the program

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3 - Pathways
Paving new career pathways:

• Hosted and trained 2,000+ learners, students and residents – partnering with local/regional educational partners

• Expanded recruitment outreach to “new Mainer” population with trainings and onsite coaching

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4 - Borders
Going beyond conventional borders:

Added 27 internationally-trained nurses and other clinical professionals to our care team, with an additional 28 in pre-arrival status

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5 - Retention
Focusing on employee retention:

Taking care of talent – our overall employee turnover rate has decreased.

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6- Sharing
Sharing the experience:

Total new external hires to date: Over 4,000 with 36% coming from care team member referrals. Our care team members are some of our best recruiters.

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Training Opportunities

MaineHealth supports professional development through a variety of programs including apprenticeships, paid training, tuition reimbursement, language skills and more. Learn more about training opportunities at MaineHealth.