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Maine Technical College System

News Release
Maine Technical College System Receives Gift to Expand Nursing Programs

FOR RELEASE: Friday, April 12, 2002
CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

Augusta, ME – The Maine Technical College System has received a $173,000 gift from the Betterment Fund to expand associate degree nursing programs in Aroostook and Somerset counties, and provide scholarship aid for nursing students, Maine Technical College System President John Fitzsimmons announced today.

The Technical College System will combine the gift with a special State appropriation of $80,000, which was approved by the Legislature last year, for a total of $253,000 targeted to health care education and scholarships.

“Enrollment limits and affordability are two of the major hurdles we face in educating more nurses,” Fitzsimmons said.  “These funds will allow us to expand access to nursing programs in northern and central Maine, and help ease the financial burden for second-year students during their final stretch,” he said.

Northern Maine Technical College (NMTC) in Presque Isle and Kennebec Valley Technical College (KVTC) in Fairfield, will each receive $100,000 over the next two years to add new sections to their nursing programs – each serving an additional eight students. The funds are intended as seed money.  Technical College officials are working to obtain permanent funding through partnerships with health facilities, State revenues and other sources.

The special State appropriation to support health education was sponsored by Senator Susan W. Longley. “The nursing shortage is verging on a crisis for many Maine hospitals and health facilities,” said Senator Longley.  “This State appropriation – along with this gift – will help provide some immediate relief for these communities.”

NMTC held a press conference this morning at the Houlton Higher Education Center, where the new nursing section will be offered.  College leaders were joined by legislators and officials from Houlton Regional Hospital.  The hospital is partnering with the college to provide clinical sites and scholarships.

KVTC will expand its nursing program at its Fairfield campus.  The region served by the college encompasses eight hospitals, 30 extended care facilities and 11 clinics and hundreds of physicians’ offices.

Both colleges’ ADN programs have transfer agreements with several universities and Husson College, for students who want to continue on for a bachelors degree.

The gift from the Betterment Fund will also help fund thirty $2,000 scholarships (15 next year, and 15 the following year) for second-year Technical College nursing students who commit to working for at least a year at a participating Maine health facility.  Half of the scholarship amount will be funded by the Betterment grant, and the other half by the student’s employer.  (The first group of scholarship applications are now being processed.)

“The second year often presents great financial challenges for students. This scholarship will help assure that our students can complete their program full time and get into the workforce as quickly as possible,” Fitzsimmons said.

Last fall, the Technical Colleges received about 700 applications for 175 first-year openings.  Expanding capacity is particularly challenging since professional regulations require a faculty-to-student ratio of one to eight in clinical settings.

Along with KVTC and NMTC, the other Technical Colleges that offer ADN programs are: Southern Maine Technical College in South Portland; Central Maine Technical College in Auburn; and Eastern Maine Technical College in Bangor.  Washington County Technical College in Calais has a unique collaboration with the University of Maine at Augusta, to make nursing education more accessible to residents of Washington County.