Summer 2018

Right on Track

A look at the successes and future of the Maine Track program, a partnership between the School of Medicine and Maine Medical Center.

By Courtney Hollands

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Illustration: Brian Taylor

In the mid-2000s, Maine was facing a dire physician shortage—and, with few state residents applying to medical school, there seemed little hope of reversing the trend. At the same time, Tufts University School of Medicine was looking to grow its class size to meet the growing demand for physicians to care for an aging U.S. population. Enter the Maine Track program: a partnership between the School of Medicine and Maine Medical Center that launched in 2009. The program offers scholarships to qualified Maine students and a curriculum focused on rural, community-based education designed to train and keep doctors in the Pine Tree State. It’s been a resounding success—so much so that the school and the hospital just signed on for another ten years of partnership.

40% Increase in Maine applicants to medical school overall since Maine Track started—the sixth highest growth rate in the country.

13 Number of eligible Maine Track graduates who are practicing in Maine, with many more nearing the end of their residencies and fellowships.

50% Share of Maine Track graduates who pursue a primary care–related specialty.

Below, we hear from some of the graduates now practicing in Maine and from Peter Bates, one of the program’s lead architects. For more on the Maine Track program, visit medicine.tufts.edu/mainetrack.

Please note, all numbers are as of press time.

 

A Founder Looks to the Future

Illustration: Brian Taylor

From his earliest days planning the Maine Track program, founding academic dean Peter Bates of Maine Medical Center knew it had to offer a signature educational experience if it was to fulfill its mission. “We had to familiarize students with the challenges and the pleasures, really, of practicing in a rural state,” he recalled, “so that it would be imprinted on their development and encourage them to practice here.”

To that end, during their third year, about half of the Maine Track class heads to a nine-month Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships at 10 community hospitals around the state (the other half stays at Maine Medical Center, the 11th LIC site). “This kind of distributed medical education model is perhaps a little harder to do than keeping everybody in the teaching center in a big city, but it can be done very well,” Bates said. Students in the program get to develop relationships with patients, while local physicians and other clinicians get an opportunity to teach and mentor students—a boon to recruitment and retention at the LIC sites. School of Medicine Dean Harris Berman thanked Bates in his 2018 commencement speech, calling him “instrumental in developing the Maine Track program, and in making it the success that it is today.” Bates, for his part, points to the truly collaborative effort among his many colleagues in Boston and Maine.

In July, Bates retired from his positions as senior vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer at Maine Medical Center, but Maine Track will continue under interim academic dean Robert Bing-You, the hospital’s vice president of medical education. Over the program’s next decade, Bates hopes even more LIC sites will come on board, and that all the locations will consider participating in clinical research and providing residency programs to create a pipeline for rural positions (such as the internal medicine residency now offered by Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway). “These additions will make these fully fledged academic centers in their own right,” he said, “and part of Maine Medical Center and the School of Medicine’s already strong partnership.”

 

Tufts Graduates Practicing in Maine

Illustration: Brian Taylor

AMANDA MCDONOUGH, M13

Obstetrician and gynecologist, Maine General Medical Center’s Alfond Center for Health, Augusta, Maine

“Rural care is quite unique. I rotated very close to my hometown of Standish, which was an incredible experience. The providers were so aware of their patients as whole people; they understood family dynamics and how limited resources affected some patients. Rural primary care almost convinced me to do family medicine, but then ob-gyn won my heart.”

 

Illustration: Brian Taylor

JASON HINE, M13

Emergency medicine specialist and attending physician, Southern Maine Health Care, Biddeford and Sanford, Maine

“I first heard of the Maine Track program through my career counselor at Colby College, where I did my undergraduate studies. It really was the perfect combination of a well-resourced, respected medical education in a large urban setting and the peace and natural beauty of Maine-based living. It was a no-brainer.”

 

Illustration: Brian Taylor

JOHN L. DAGGETT JR., M14

Primary-care internist, Milo Family Practice, Milo, Maine; Hospitalist physician, Mayo Regional Hospital, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine

“There is a great need in Maine for
physicians of all specialties. This is especially true in the more rural parts of the state. It was great to train in Maine because the network of providers is very collaborative, so I knew wherever I ended up practicing, that network could be utilized.”

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