$1.5 Million Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan Initiative to Promote Health Care Careers

By Ramona du Houx

May 16, 2022

The Departments of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Labor (DOL) are collaborating on the campaigns to promote entry-level and other health care jobs as stepping stones to rewarding careers, particularly among young people in Maine. The Caring for ME campaign was developed with input from stakeholders across the healthcare economy, with particular attention paid to input from direct care workers themselves.

The combined investment in the campaigns is $1.5 million, part of a broader $20 million initiative under the Governor’s Jobs Plan to promote health care jobs with significant funds from the American Rescue Plan.

“A strong, high-quality health care system is essential to the health of Maine people and the health of our economy,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This new campaign is the next step in my Administration’s work with our health care providers to recruit more Maine people – especially young people – into the health care workforce and move them up the career ladder. Health care provides meaningful, important work, and, as the pandemic has shown us, it’s work that’s more crucial than ever before. I encourage Maine people to explore whether a career in health care is right for you. We, and our terrific health care providers, stand ready to help.”

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.

DHHS has partnered with health care employers, associations, and Live and Work in Maine, a not-for-profit that markets Maine as a career destination, to launch a comprehensive marketing and outreach campaign to highlight entry level positions throughout the health care field, such as phlebotomy, certified nursing assistants, EMS, and medical office assistants.

The campaign promotes health care careers as diverse and rewarding and includes new website content that connects individuals with health care jobs in Maine, including through job openings, information about career paths, and personal stories of those in the field.

“There are many great entry points into the healthcare sector, leading to rewarding careers doing critical work,” said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. “These statewide initiatives will help Mainers decide whether health care is the right career for them, and provide a connection to resources, education, and training in an easy-to-access website.”

In a more targeted effort to attract and develop direct care and behavioral health workers in Maine, DOL, in partnership with DHHS, DECD and Pulse Marketing, has launched Caring for ME, a complementary campaign that includes social media advertising, in-person events, and a new website where individuals can explore careers, find job openings from the Maine Department of Labor’s Maine JobLink directory, and read stories that highlight the importance and meaningful nature of direct care and behavioral health work in Maine.

“It is exciting to see another one of the recommendations from the Commission to Study Long-Term Care Workforce Issues come to fruition,” said State Representative Jessica Fay. “The support and services provided by our direct care and behavioral health professionals is deeply important and rewarding work. It is critical that we raise awareness about how essential this work is and how pursuing jobs in this field can lead to a satisfying career, all while helping to alleviate the workforce crisis.”

Live and Work in Maine is already promoting the website with employers and will launch radio and streaming audio ads next week as part of a broad outreach effort that also includes social media, digital, mobile and television ads and in-person events. The campaign will be aimed at Maine youth, including current high school students, with components reaching out of state to young people in greater Boston.

“At MaineHealth, we have seen positive results from the statewide efforts driven by Live and Work in Maine and this will be another crucial tool in attracting and retaining the talent needs of today, as well as of tomorrow,” said Helene Kennedy, Vice President of Talent at Maine Health.

Informed by recommendations from the Commission to Study Long-Term Care Workforce Issues, an industry advisory council, and a survey of more than 700 current and potential future direct care workers in Maine, the Caring for ME campaign aims to attract more employees into a variety of settings within the field, such as Home and Community Based settings, long term care, and skilled nursing facilities, while educating workers about available training courses and multiple pathways to a long-term health care career.

The Administration’s investment in promoting health care careers was welcomed as essential for addressing worker shortages and creating entry points for more people to pursue opportunities in these critical fields.

“The pandemic has taken its toll on the health care workforce at a time when more caregivers are needed to meet demand. Maine is at a pivotal time in terms of our response to the staffing crisis,” said Angela Westhoff, President and CEO of the Maine Health Care Association. “These recruitment campaigns rest on the foundation that it takes a special person to be a caregiver and work in the healthcare field. Our caregivers are not only providing an important service, but are often the eyes, ears and voices of those for whom they care. MHCA is pleased to partner with the Administration on tangible recruitment and retention solutions, like the Caring For Me campaign and partnership with Live and Work in Maine, that will encourage more people to enter this noble field and provide clear pathways for advancement as well.”

“As an employer partner of Live and Work in Maine, we welcome the opportunity for continued collaboration with our health care colleagues to raise awareness of the career opportunities within our industry in communities we serve,” said Steve Amendo, Chief Marketing Officer at Martin’s Point. “There has never been a more important time to start a career in health care, and we look forward to the spotlight that this effort will bring.”

These campaigns are part of a series of initiatives from Governor Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to invest in the state’s health care workforce.

“Caringforme.org is a great resource and guide for anyone interested in pursuing a meaningful career in direct care or behavioral health while the partnership with Live and Work in Maine ensures young people learn about the great opportunities in healthcare more broadly,” said Brenda Gallant, RN, Executive Director, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. “These campaigns put Maine on the map as a state committed to workforce development for these critically needed professionals.”

Earlier this month, Governor Mills announced Healthcare Training for ME, an initiative to connect individuals and employers with training resources, such as adult education programs, community colleges, and universities. Individuals and employers may then apply to receive tuition assistance to enroll in training programs, or offer training to their employees, at little or no cost.

Upcoming programs include scholarships and student loan relief for individuals in health care professions and the creation of health care career navigators to help people interested in health care fields determine the right career path for them.

Separate from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Governor Mills worked with the Legislature to invest more than $700 million in this biennium in Maine Care rates, including rate increases to support paying direct care workers 125 percent of minimum wage.

Additionally, the Administration has provided $121 million to providers for bonus payments for recruitment and retention of home- and community-based care providers. 

For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.