Governor John Baldacci congratulates Sen Marrache for her work on the new Medical Scholarship program. Photo by Ramona du Houx

By Ramona du Houx

July 7, 2009

An Act To Encourage Maine Residents To Attend Medical School and Practice in Maine creates the Doctors for Maine’s Future Scholarship Program, which provides tuition scholarships for Maine residents to support their medical educations. Participating educational institutions in Maine are; the Maine Medical Center, Eastern Maine Medical Center and the University of New England.“This will help rural areas with more primary care physicians,” said Governor John Baldacci. “Research shows that doctors tend to settle near the hospitals where they complete their training. I know that given the chance young doctors will stay in Maine.”

The tuition scholarship will cover half the cost of attendance annually, up to $25,000, for eligible students who enter qualifying Maine based medial school programs.

“The need for rural physicians is not acceptable. We’re hoping we will see an increase in primary physicians,” said Richard Petersen, CEO of Maine Medical Center. “We’re happy to be a part of this collaboration.”

The need for more qualified doctors in the state is so great Maine’s major health care providers will match the state scholarship funds.

“We’re hoping that with matching scholarship funds we will see an increase in primary physicians,” said Katie Fullam Harris of Maine Health. “This takes a huge step in allowing us to educate physicians here. With a burgeoning elderly population it’s needed.”

“This effort has been lead by our health care community. They want to have more primary care physicians in our state, especially in the rural areas. People have been rushing into emergency rooms causing increases to insurance premiums, in some case, because there aren’t enough rural caregivers,” said Gov. Baldacci.

The collaboration works with Tuffs University and Dartmouth College. Those sought after medical institutions have agreed to align themselves with Maine’s medical institutions. The new curriculum will give students a high quality education in medicine without having to leave the state.

“With this collaboration we don’t have to build a new medical institution. We’re utilizing the experience and expertise that Tuffs and Dartmouth have as they work with the University of New England, EMMC and Maine Medical Center to offer degrees that will create more primary physicians,” said the Governor. “With this scholarship fund our young professionals won’t come out of college so indebted that they have to get high paying jobs in other states to pay back the debt.”

The revolving scholarship fund will be administered by the Finance Authority of Maine.

Sen. Lisa Marache, who is a practicing doctor in Waterville, sponsored the bill. “I never would have become a doctor without the scholarships that I got. This bill provides needed funds for people to pursue their medical careers in Maine, it’s something we have never done before. We are providing educations for doctors right here, in the state of Maine, so they will practice right here, in the state of Maine.”