The May 30 Maine Compass column, “Group of doctors say taxes aren’t factor in whether they stay in Maine,” showed well the passion and community awareness that exist among the graduates of Maine Medical Center’s Maine Track program. The highly successful program, a partnership with Tufts Medical School, encourages students to train and stay in Maine through a curriculum that emphasizes rural medicine and scholarships that allow Maine students to pay half the regular tuition.

In the column, a recent program graduate, writing on behalf of 29 classmates, took on the assumption that Maine’s voter-approved 3 percent tax surcharge on incomes over $200,000 would make the tough job of recruiting physicians to rural settings harder. Not so, they argued, saying that putting those tax revenues toward education would do far more good than harm.

It says a lot about Maine Track that it can inspire young doctors to care so deeply about our state. But, as individuals who actively work to recruit doctors to Maine, we can attest that our income tax burden — now the highest in the country up to $1 million in income — has already created recruiting challenges for us at Intermed and Maine Medical Center. This is particularly so for sought-after specialists such as psychiatrists and dermatologists, who often start their careers hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

This is not to say that taxes are the only criterion a doctor or anyone else would use in a decision to relocate. As was pointed out, other factors weigh in such decisions: professional opportunities, proximity of family and the quality of a given community, including its schools.

But taxes, and the earning potential they impact, do matter. And when we compete against similar places with similar opportunities, but no such tax burden, they can matter a lot.

We need to invest in education, but not at the expense of discouraging physicians and other high-level professionals from making Maine their home.

Phyllidia Ku-Ruth, M.D.

president, InterMed

Jeff Sanders

chief operating officer, Maine Medical Center

Portland