Maine Track: Making Dreams Come True for Doctors and Communities
Caitlin Civiello, MD, a Board-certified emergency room physician who splits her time between Pen Bay Medical Center and Mid Coast Hospital, grew up knowing how important local hospitals are to their communities. She was raised in Owl’s Head, population 1,602, and her mother was a nurse in the Emergency Department at Pen Bay. “It was always my dream to work at the hospital with my mom,” Dr. Civiello said.
But Dr. Civiello says that her dream might not have come true had she not enrolled in the Tufts University School of Medicine — Maine Medical Center Maine Track program. The partnership, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, was created to help stem a shortage of doctors — particularly primary care providers — in rural Maine. Through generous annual scholarships for approximately half of each class and exposure to Maine hospitals, patients and providers, the Maine Track program helps students fall in love with rural medicine and gives them a financial boost to make it possible for them to practice in Maine.
Aspiring doctors follow a long road to medical practice. They not only have to complete medical school, but also residencies and sometimes fellowships or stints in the military. It can take three to eight years for a medical school graduate to reach their practice destination. Still, more than 50% of Maine Track alums from the classes of ’13 and ’14 were practicing in Maine as of the fall of 2017, many of them in primary care.
That early success led Tufts and Maine Medical Center to sign a new, 10-year agreement in August 2018. It allows for the possibility of expanding classes beyond their current 40 students (the majority of whom have ties to Maine), and it increases the amount of time spent at Maine Medical Center in the first two years of the four-year program.
“The quality of the network we have created to support medical students is really reflected in the number of them who choose to stay in Maine and practice medicine here. I’m excited about what’s going to come over the next decade,” said Bob Bing-You, MD, vice president of Medical Education at MMC and interim academic dean.