Fort Kent

Northern Maine Medical Center opens mentor opportunity for student nurse anesthetists

FORT KENT, Maine — Northern Maine Medical Center is working to minimize the effects of the demand for health care professionals in its service area by creating partnerships with colleges and universities and offering clinical opportunities and onsite mentoring for students. One such partnership was established last year with the University of New England’s nurse anesthesia program.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for virtually every category of health care professional will continue to increase over the coming decade. The bureau report says that the job outlook for nurse anesthetists suggests a 31 percent increase in demand, which is due partly to recent healthcare legislation and aging of the baby boomer generation.

Andrea Bouchard, RN-BSN, CRNA and manager of Northern Maine Medical Center’s surgical services said, “The partnership [with UNE] provides the opportunity to expose future CRNAs to our facility, our clinical practices and our community. Many students are looking for opportunities in independent practice, which can provide an excellent education opportunity for the student to develop skill while practicing in an independent CRNA model.” 

Senior students who come to the hospital from University of New England’s anesthesia program have met rigorous requirements such as meeting a 3.0 grade point average or better and completion of a minimum of two years of critical care nursing experience. Prior to arriving at Northern Maine Medical Center, students have completed a majority of their specialty rotations in cardiac, thoracic, pediatrics, obstetrics, neurology, general, gynecology, urology, regional and ambulatory. 

According to Bouchard, as independent providers in a rural setting, CRNA’s encounter a variety of critical clinical presentations throughout the hospital where they work as a member of the team and utilize their expertise and clinical judgement to ensure that patients receive optimal outcomes. 

CRNAs provide acute, chronic and interventional pain management services, as well as critical care and resuscitation services; provide anesthesia in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists and other qualified health care professionals; order and evaluate diagnostic tests; request consultations; and perform point-of-care testing.

“Experiencing an independent CRNA model such as this one at NMMC is an opportunity to experience the difference from the anesthesia care team model which includes an anesthesiologist,” said Ryan Dixon, a senior anesthesia student, is currently completing a two-month clinical rotation at Northern Maine Medical Center

Dixon said that the independent model allows more opportunity to build rapport with patients, not only in the operating room but also throughout the surgical experience.  

According to Bouchard, the partnership serves as a retention strategy for existing staff, creating mentoring benefits such as: sharing knowledge with a young professional, obtaining personal satisfaction from making a difference to the career development of others, enhancing their own personal clinical and interpersonal skills and hearing fresh perspectives from future healthcare professionals. 

“Working with students is a great way to stay current. Students are immersed in current literature, new practices and research in the field of anesthesia,” Bouchard said.

Northern Maine Medical Center is planning to continue to welcome more anesthesia students during their senior rotation, between January and August of each year. 

Submitted by the Communications Office of Northern Maine Medical Center.

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