TUSM & Maine Medical Center Celebrate Third Class of "Maine Track MD" Students

Tufts Medical students Lauren Nadkarni (R) and Ann Cuttler Hicks hug after learning they will both be doing residencies at Maine Medical Center during Medicine Match Day. (Photo: Matthew Healey for Tufts University)

Program Trains Physicians to Serve in Underserved Urban and Rural Communities


Note: This news release was originally posted on now.tufts.edu.

BOSTON (March 20, 2015) – This year’s Match Day at Tufts celebrated the third cohort of students in the “Maine Track MD” program. A partnership between Tufts University School of Medicine and Maine Medical Center, the Maine Track MD program trains medical students interested in practicing medicine in underserved urban and rural communities in Maine where the shortage of physicians is acute. “Match Day” is when medical students across the country learn where they will begin their residency training following graduation this spring.

Of the 34 students in the Maine Track MD program, 24 (71%) matched in the primary care fields of family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, while five (15%) matched in surgical specialties. Ten will be at residency programs in Maine, while others will be moving to West Virginia, Tennessee, Minnesota, California or other states.

“Research shows that medical students who have experiences in primary care or rural settings are more likely to pursue careers in these areas,” said Harris Berman, M.D., dean of Tufts University School of Medicine. “The Maine Track MD students have an opportunity to practice in a community and experience what it is like to have a relationship with patients over nine months, much longer than is standard in medical school.”

The Maine Track MD program includes an option for students in their third year to spend nine months practicing in small towns and rural communities. This Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship replaces the standard rotations through various medical specialties. The clerkship provides students with hands-on training in settings that combine training in rural practice as well as at a major medical center.

“The campus for these students is the state of Maine,” said Peter Bates, M.D., chief medical officer at Maine Medical Center and academic dean for the Maine Track MD program. “Family practices, community hospitals, and Maine Medical Center all serve as training sites for these medical students. While not all graduates will match in Maine, their experiences in the Maine Track MD program will have far-reaching benefits for underserved communities in Maine. In addition, their residencies will give them a broader base of clinical experience, leading to improved care if they choose to practice here.”

Most counties in the state of Maine have federally designated shortage areas in primary care (communities with more than 3,500 people per one doctor to provide care). The Association of American Medical Colleges’ Center for Workforce Studies estimates the U.S. will face a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians and 46,100 surgeons and medical specialists by 2020.

The first class of 32 Maine Track MD students graduated in 2013. Ten of these graduates are in physician residency programs in Maine while the remaining are in Alaska, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and elsewhere. Two are in the military. Sixteen (50%) of the first graduating class were selected into residencies in primary care, including seven in family medicine. Another seven are pursuing surgical specialties.

The second class of 29 students graduated in 2014 with four doing residencies in Maine while the remaining are in Colorado, Maryland, Alaska and other states. Thirteen (46%) of the Maine Track students are in residencies in primary care fields. Another five students are pursuing surgical specialties.

The students begin in Maine for orientation; spend their first two years primarily on the Boston campus of Tufts, then move to Maine for most of the last two years of medical school. The unique curriculum of the Maine Track MD program emphasizes rural and small town practice.  As the cost of medical education can be a financial hardship, up to 20 legal residents from the state of Maine in each entering class may receive a $25,000 scholarship which may be renewed for subsequent years.

Background on the Maine Track MD program

In 2008, Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and Maine Medical Center (MMC) announced a partnership that established a new medical school program focused on addressing a critical need for both Maine and for the rest of the nation: training students for primary care careers, particularly in rural and other underserved areas. The Maine Track MD program has admitted up to a total of 36 students and will admit up to 40 students in the incoming class in 2015. Applications to the Maine Track MD program from legal residents of the state of Maine are given preference. Other applicants with strong ties to Maine (such as attending an undergraduate institution in Maine) and those with an interest in practicing in underserved urban and rural communities are also encouraged to apply.

Background on Match Day

In order to provide direct patient care, physicians in the United States must complete a three- to seven-year residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. National Match Day is the culmination of a process that begins each fall, when senior medical students apply to residency programs through a national computer system designed to optimize the rank-ordered choices of applicants and residency program directors. The results of the Match were released simultaneously today at noon to medical students across the United States.

About Tufts University School of Medicine

Tufts University School of Medicine is an international leader in innovative medical education. Ranked among the top in the nation, the School of Medicine is affiliated with six major teaching hospitals and more than 30 health care facilities. Tufts University School of Medicine emphasizes rigorous fundamentals in a dynamic learning environment to educate physicians, scientists, and public health professionals to become leaders in their fields; contribute to the advancement of the sciences basic to medicine through discovery, research, scholarship, and communication, and join with our partner institutions to provide the best care to individuals and communities.

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 2014-2015, is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in

1864, 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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