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With 38 new graduates in 2017, now nearly 170 medical students have graduated from Tufts Medical School through an innovative program that seeks to address Maine’s physician shortage
PORTLAND, Maine – Maine Medical Center (MMC) held a special celebration on Saturday, April 29 to recognize the fifth and largest cohort of “Maine Track” program students graduating from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston next month. The class of 38 will begin their residencies this summer, including 14 at MMC and a handful in four other New England states.
“One component of Maine Medical Center’s mission is educating tomorrow’s caregivers, and the Maine Track program is an investment in that mission that is beginning to pay dividends for all Mainers,” said Peter Bates, M.D., MMC’s Chief Academic Officer. “Each of these graduates is making a commitment to understanding and in some cases practicing rural medicine, and that will have a huge impact on helping our communities to become the healthiest in America.”
The Maine Track program is a partnership between MMC and Tufts that was formed to help address the shortage of doctors in Maine, provide financial assistance to aspiring medical students from Maine and to develop an innovative curriculum focused on community-based education. Program participants are not required to practice in Maine, but about half of do, according to Bates.
Now, after five years of cohorts have passed through Tufts, the program’s first graduates are beginning to practice medicine after completing residencies that typically last three or four years. From the original 2013 Maine Track cohort, nine physicians are now practicing medicine in four Maine counties.
The need for physicians to practice in Maine – especially in rural areas – is significant as the state’s aging population requires additional health resources. The effort to attract more doctors to Maine could receive a boost if LD 503 is passed. The bill, currently in committee with the Maine state legislature, would appropriate $16 million as a one-time allocation from the state’s General Fund for the establishment of an endowment to continue the Doctors for Maine’s Future Scholarship Program. The Maine Track program is funded through public and philanthropic contributions.
“The Doctors for Maine’s Future program is a strategic investment in our future health care workforce and health of our communities,” Bates said.
The annual Maine Track celebration marks the local recognition of medical school students who will graduate from Tufts on May 21 in Boston. For some of these students, the Maine Track program was instrumental to realizing their dreams of becoming a doctor.
“I take great pride in the fact that I am from Maine. At one point in my life I was fairly certain that I would have to leave the state to pursue my dream of being a physician,” said Dylan Wingfield, a native of Brewer, Maine who will graduate from the Maine Track program next month and go on to complete his residency in anesthesiology at MMC. “It feels good to know that by staying in Maine I will be helping to address the state’s health care challenges.”
About the Maine Track Program
The Maine Track Program was established through an educational partnership between Tufts University School of Medicine and Maine Medical Center with three primary goals in mind: to address the shortage of doctors in Maine, especially in our rural areas; to offer Maine’s brightest students the financial means to pursue a career in medicine; and to develop an innovative curriculum focused on community-based education. This unique partnership offers a rigorous training program focused on the needs of Maine while also giving students firsthand experience in local communities throughout the state. This approach creates more than just a pipeline of new physicians; it lays the foundation for a future where every Mainer has access to excellent medical care.
About Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center (MMC), recognized as the number‐one ranked hospital in Maine by U.S. News and World Report for 2016‐2017, is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in 1868, MMC is the state’s largest medical center, licensed for 637 beds and employing nearly 6,500 people. MMC's unique role as both a community hospital and a referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world‐class biomedical research center. As a nonprofit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23 percent of all the charity care delivered in Maine. MMC is a member of the MaineHealth system, a growing family of health care services in northern New England. For more information, visit www.mmc.org.
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