Cary to train doctors


Third-year medical students coming to County

     CARIBOU — Cary Medical Center and Pines Health Services have been selected to participate in a special program that will let third-year medical students train in Aroostook County.

     In partnership with Maine Medical Center in Portland Maine, Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) offers a Maine Track — a unique, innovative curriculum that offers clinical training experiences in Maine and exposes medical students to the unique aspects of rural practice as well as training in a major tertiary medical center.

     Cary CEO Kris Doody, RN, said the opportunity for Cary and Pines to participate in the program has multiple advantages for both students and the hospital.

     “We believe we offer a very unique culture here at Cary,” said Doody. “We offer a very supportive environment, a family atmosphere, and a variety of clinical scenarios that will present the students with a dynamic setting. We hope that by exposing the students to such an engaging rural practice of medicine that it will encourage them to consider establishing their practice here in Maine”.

     In order to participate, Cary and Pines had to offer a core of clinical programs including pediatrics, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine and internal medicine. Regen Gallagher, DO, Cary’s chief medical officer, said the fact that the hospital and physician practice offer this wide range of specialties in a rural setting was the key in their selection for the program.

     “It is very unique that Cary Medical Center and Pines Health Services, a federally qualified health center, have established such a collaborative relationship where we can work together to build a very impressive clinical experience for these students,” said Gallagher, who will provide administrative support for the program.

     “We are looking forward to our first year with the clerkship program and hope to continue providing the training indefinitely,” she said.

     Carl Flynn, MD, a family medicine physician who has practiced at Pines and Cary for more than 20 years, will serve as medical director for the program. Flynn, who directs a very busy primary care practice at the Pines Health Center in Caribou, said the enthusiasm of the physicians was key in making the program a reality.

     “When we were invited to participate in this program we knew it was imperative for the physicians here to get on board,” said Flynn. “We were very impressed with the staff’s response and we knew we could create a special experience for the students.

     “We believe that the challenges and diverse chronic illnesses that these students will be presented with will provide them with a very valuable window into the rural health care environment,” Flynn said. “We are so grateful to our physicians for their support in helping to make this program possible.”

     Pines CEO Jim Davis, said the program’s potential to help recruit physicians to rural Maine provided a great incentive.

     “The recruitment of health care professionals to remote, rural parts of Maine is a significant challenge,” said Davis. “We need more creative ways to draw primary care doctors to underserved areas. This program has the potential to demonstrate to medical students that they can have a very successful, professionally rewarding career, while enjoying the great quality of life that our rural communities have to offer.”

     Gallagher said the hospital is required to provide housing for the students, along with physician leadership and administrative support.

     “In addition, each of our physicians who will serve as mentors have completed a faculty development course provided by the program and accepted faculty appointments with Tufts University School of Medicine,” said Gallagher, who formerly practiced as an obstetrician/gynecologist at Pines. “These young students will really keep our providers on their toes and our staff is really looking forward to the experience.”

     Most students who participate in the clerkship program take an innovative nine-month Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) during their third year. Based in many rural sites and in Portland, the LIC allows for career exploration and close faculty mentoring. Students are assigned to third-year options based on a lottery; the two who will come to Cary and Pines selected the location after conversations with both Flynn and Gallagher.


     The Tufts/MMC clerkship program began placing students in Maine in May 2011.