Governor Janet Mills announced this week a program that will include tuition help for future and current health care workers.

The plan aims to help bolster the invaluable health care industry, which has been hardest hit by the pandemic. Governor Mills said this week that health care workers have been the 'backbone' to Maine's COVID-19 response.

They've shown up on the frontlines for more than a year and a half to save the lives of Maine people, all while enduring risks to their own health and the added pressure and stress of the job. Their work is meaningful beyond words and crucial to the health of our people. Through these forthcoming initiatives, we want to make it easier and more affordable for people, especially young people, to pursue careers in health care and continue to move up the career ladder into higher-paying jobs because they provide tremendous opportunity to do life-saving work and make a good wage with good benefits.

One portion of the initiative would offer financial incentives, like scholarships and student loan relief, to people pursuing an education in health care. Those career paths can include studying to become doctors, nurses, behavioral health specialists, long-term care professionals, and others. The program will be backed by $4 million from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan.

Another program will help people who are already working in health care to achieve the next level in their career path, by developing new skills. This initiative will be backed by $8.5 million from the same Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and will provide financial support to help employees attain advanced health care credentials. The 'tuition remission' plan aims to help health care professionals move into better-paying jobs and improve the health care services available to Maine residents.

Still another section of this multi-layered program will use $1.5 million to recruit new people into the health care field. $1 million is dedicated to promoting the value of work in health care and encouraging young people to pursue the field. $500,000 will foster interest in direct care jobs, such as working as an aide to a person with disabilities. Another $600,000 will launch Maine's Health Care Career Navigators, which will help people interested in health care determine which career path is the best fit for them.

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