- Timothy A. Churchill, President and CEO of Stephens Memorial Hospital announced notification of a Rural Health Workforce Development grant to help support the Maine Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine Maine Track medical school program at four rural practice sites. Stephens Memorial Hospital is the lead agency for the grant. Rural clerkship sites at St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston, MidCoast Hospital in Brunswick, and Farmington Memorial Hospital in Farmington will also share nearly $200,000 in grant monies for up to three years to help support the program.
The President's 2010 Budget included an "Improving Rural Health Care Initiative" which focuses on building new ways to improve health care in rural communities, including recruitment and retention of healthcare providers in rural areas. The Rural Health Workforce Development Program supports the development of these networks in the President's Rural Health Care Initiative.
Over the past several years there have been nearly 200 physician vacancies in Maine. The retirement of baby boomers and a significantly reduced base of primary care physicians nationwide will have a greater impact on the physician shortage. Maine Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine worked collaboratively to develop the Maine Track program to address the shortage of physicians in the state of Maine. The class of 2013 recently completed a successful first year. The incoming class of 2014 was highly competitive with six applicants for each opening - a testimonial to the success of this program.
Churchill shares, "We are thrilled to receive the grant. We think that it speaks to the merit of the innovative approach that has been taken by Maine Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine to address the primary care physician shortage in Maine. Stephens Memorial Hospital is pleased to serve as the lead agency that applied for the grant."
This grant makes possible the vision for third year undergraduate medical students to live in rural areas of Maine, be active participants in those medical communities and accomplish their core competencies through this clerkship model. The program will expose students to the intrinsic benefits of primary care medicine and quality of life enjoyed in rural setting with the hope of graduating excellent, compassionate medical students who will return to be rural physicians in our state.
The submission of the grant was a collaborative effort among key staff at Maine Medical Center, Stephens Memorial Hospital, Mid Coast Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital, and Farmington Memorial Hospital.
Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins as well as Representatives Chellie Pingree and Michael Michaud provided letters of support for the grant.