Maine Medical Center and Tufts University are renewing a 10-year medical education partnership for another decade, the hospital and university announced on Wednesday.

The new agreement – financial details of which were undisclosed – will take the partnership to 2029 and allow for the program to expand.

Currently, students in the program spend the first two years at Tufts School of Medicine in Boston before coming to Maine for the final two years. Starting in 2019, students will come to Maine Med to learn in their second year.

The partnership, called Maine Track, is capped at 40 students per graduating class, but the idea is to grow the graduating classes beyond that. How much the program would grow has not yet been determined, said Maine Med spokeswoman Caroline Cornish.

“Maine Track was built on a simple idea: The best way to make our communities healthier is to make it easier for Mainers themselves to become doctors,” the news release said.

More than 200 students have graduated from the program since 2013. Fifty-nine of the graduates have gone on to pursue their residencies at Maine Med, and an additional 61 have stayed to do residencies at hospitals in New England.

About half of all Maine Track graduates have stayed in Maine to practice, according to Maine Med.

Rural Maine, mirroring a trend across the United States, is facing a shortage of rural doctors, and some services, such as obstetrics, are vanishing in parts of rural Maine. For example, there are about three times as many primary care physicians per capita in Cumberland County compared with rural Washington and Oxford counties, according to County Health Rankings, a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Our new program design will give students greater exposure to the clinical environment, make them more familiar with Maine Med, significantly improve their educational experience and ideally increase the number of graduates who choose to practice medicine in Maine,” said Dr. Bob Bing-You, vice president of medical education at Maine Med.

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

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Twitter: joelawlorph

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