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Maine Med and Tufts Create Medical School Program

02-06-2008 08:20 PM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: Maine Medical Center

A ceremonial signing celebrates the unique partnership between Maine Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine. From left: Amy B. Kuhlik, MD, Dean of Student Affairs, Tufts University School of Medicine; Michael Rosenblatt, MD, Dean, Tufts Un

A ceremonial signing celebrates the unique partnership between Maine Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine. From left: Amy B. Kuhlik, MD, Dean of Student Affairs, Tufts University School of Medicine; Michael Rosenblatt, MD, Dean, Tufts Un

A “uniquely Maine” curriculum and reserved slots for Maine students

Imagine a medical school program run as a partnership by Maine’s largest hospital and the prestigious Tufts University School of Medicine. Imagine a “campus” that stretches from Boston to Portland and beyond, to rural Maine. Imagine 20 seats in each class reserved for Maine students at subsidized tuition levels.

That’s just the beginning of what a unique partnership between Maine Med and Tufts University School of Medicine will bring to Maine. The students will spend their first two years at Tufts, then move to Maine Medical Center for the entire clerkship period in year three and portions of the monthly rotations in year four. The students will be jointly recruited and selected for a unique curriculum that will be co-governed and led by MMC and Tufts. When they graduate, each student will receive a combined diploma from MMC and Tufts.

Twenty of the 36 seats will be reserved for legal residents of Maine, students attending Maine colleges or students from adjacent New England states or other locales deemed similar to Maine to encourage participants to establish medical practice in Maine. The unique curriculum, or the “Maine track”, will emphasize rural and small town practice, and break new ground in its approach to teaching safety, quality, and team-based care. Students in this track will also have the option of pursuing dual degrees, such as MD/MBA, MD/PhD, and MD/MPH.

“This is not the usual affiliation between a medical center and a medical school,” says Vincent S. Conti, MMC President and Chief Executive Officer. “This is a true partnership, co-developed and equally governed and managed by the two organizations. It is a unique approach to find a solution for what is becoming a national crisis: a lack of physicians, specifically primary care physicians, and especially in rural areas.”

Tufts has a strong track record of training Maine physicians with more than 300 Tufts doctors now living in Maine, of which 60 are currently on staff at the Maine Medical Center,” commented Tufts University School of Medicine Dean Michael Rosenblatt, M.D. “Although this is a new agreement, our affiliation with Maine Medical Center began in the 1930’s and 1940’s when Tufts students, funded by the Bingham Program, rotated to Maine hospitals. We are excited to re-establish and revitalize this important relationship.”

The partnership is the result of months of planning and negotiation by an Undergraduate Medical Education Steering Committee and three different medical schools. The hospital moved forward with Tufts because of what committee chair Peter Bates, M.D., MMC’s Chief of Medicine, described as the “perfect match of needs and philosophy” between the two institutions.

“This partnership allows both parties to contribute to a unique outcome that neither could achieve on its own,” Dr. Bates said. “This is a rare historical opportunity to boost medical education in Maine and do it in a fiscally responsible manner, as contrasted to creating an entirely new medical school. Our teaching physicians will have faculty appointments at Tufts, and there will be a dedicated dean and other staff for the program. This program will allow greater access to a high quality medical education for qualified Maine students.”

“The importance of developing robust and dynamic relationships with teaching hospital institutions and their real-world ‘classrooms,’ where our medical students first experience caring for patients, cannot be overstated,” said Amy B. Kuhlik, M.D., Dean of Student Affairs at Tufts University School of Medicine. “Maine Medical Center is a new and enthusiastic partner in our efforts to train student-physicians. The academic structure of the agreement enables each partner to contribute to the medical curriculum and student experience. It is a partnership in the best sense of the word.”

Plans are to seek grant support, philanthropy, and state funding to subsidize tuition for the Maine students in the program. Both MMC and Tufts have committed to aggressively pursuing support that will allow Maine students to attend without an unusual financial hardship.

The partnership between the two institutions will extend beyond medical education. Opportunities for collaboration include signature clinical programs and research. Tufts has active research programs in genomics, clinical research/evidence-based medicine, regenerative medicine, drugs, and biologics, which offer a good fit for the Maine Medical Center Research Institute.

MMC has long had affiliations with medical schools (including Tufts, until 1980). In these more traditional arrangements, third and fourth year medical students have come to the hospital for rotations through various services. The hospital has provided the educational opportunity, but the medical school has had full responsibility for recruiting and selecting the students, designing the curriculum, and managing the program. MMC’s current affiliation with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, will end in 2011, when the first MMC/Tufts students arrive.

MMC also has an active postgraduate medical education program, with 207 physicians in 18 residencies and fellowships. It has long been known that many physicians tend to establish their practices near where they complete their residencies, and historically some 25-30% of MMC’s residents remain in Maine (in some specialties, such as psychiatry and geriatrics, half of the residents remain in Maine). In a similar manner, it is hoped that medical students in the Tufts/MMC program will favor MMC residencies as they continue their training.

The federal government predicts that by 2020 – only a few years after the first graduates of the MMC/Tufts program enter practice – the United States will have a shortage of more than 24,000 physicians. That prediction was cited in a report from Pricewaterhousecoopers released in July 2007, that included a recommendation for educators and providers to work together, “forging alliances to provide not only education but required financing” to address the shortage. The same report noted that the problem will be most acute in rural areas and in primary care specialties.

Contact: Wayne Clark, (207) 662-4405
Maine Medical Center
22 Bramhall Street
Portland, Maine 04102

Contact: Christine Fennelly, (617) 636-3707
Tufts University School of Medicine
136 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02110

Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center (MMC) is a non-profit community hospital for the people of central and southern Maine, and is the premier tertiary care center for northern New England. The hospital provides comprehensive inpatient services in all medical specialties. Centers of excellence are being developed in cancer care, heart care, children’s services, and other areas building from existing excellence in multi-disciplinary services. MMC is also a teaching hospital, with active programs in undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate medical education. Research, with emphasis on application to patient care, is an integral part of MMC.

Tufts University School of Medicine
Tufts University School of Medicine has been a national leader in medicine since its founding in 1893. We are a fully accredited institution with over 3,800 faculty and a wide range of programs in medicine, scientific research and public health care policy. We offer one of the most substantive and innovative medical curricula in the country, including training in business, communication, public health and technology.

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