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Advocates: New Grads Will Likely Ease Maine's Nursing Shortage, But Bond Issue Still Needed

Patty Wight
Maine Public
Lisa Harvey McPherson of the Maine Nursing Action Coalition, flanked by USM nursing teachers and students, speaks in support Wednesday of ballot Question 4.

Maine's nursing shortage is expected to ease by 2025, according to new estimates from the Maine Nursing Action Coalition.  But advocates say if Question 4 on the November ballot isn't approved, it will be difficult to educate the thousands of nurses that will still be needed by then. The Coalition says that the projected shortage will drop from 3,200 to 2,700.  At a press conference at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Coalition Co-chair Lisa Harvey McPherson said the reduced shortage shows progress, but "the challenge before us is 2,700 new nurses in the next seven years, is a very big number."

McPherson says the Coalition supports a bond question on the November ballot that is designed to increase the number of nursing graduates.  Question 4 would authorize $49 million in bonds to the University of Maine System.  Twelve million would go toward constructing and updating nursing labs and classrooms.

The projected drop in the nursing shortage is attributed to an increase in the number of nursing graduates in the state. 

The president of OMNE Nursing Leaders of Maine, Peggy McRae, praised the progress in filling some of the gap, but "there are very real limits to how much more we can advance with existing resources," she said.

McRae and others at the news conference urged voters to approve Question 4 when they go to the polls next month.