— The state’s largest hospital on Monday welcomed 32 future doctors to it’s new medical school program.

The Maine Medical Center-Tufts University School of Medicine program will place the 36 students at Maine Med and other hospitals in the state for two years of their medical school study. The program’s aim is to keep Maine students who want to become doctors in Maine. According to Maine Med, there are more than 200 open physician positions in the state.

Tufts and Maine Med announced the partnership in February 2008, and on Monday hospital President Rich Petersen said he is confident the program will bring the state the physicians it needs, while also making Maine Med an even better hospital for its patients.

“Teaching hospitals rank highest in patient care,” he said, addressing  a few hundred people gathered at the Dana Center. 

Gov. John Baldacci also spoke at the afternoon event. He said the collaborative fashion of the program is economical and expands opportunity for students in Maine.

Twenty of the undergraduate medical openings are reserved for Mainers, who receive scholarship support. The savings for a Maine student add up to about $100,000 over four years.

The ceremony Monday was named in honor of the late Dr. Victor McKusick, a world-renowned medical geneticist who grew up on a dairy farm in Parkman. McKusick also attended Tufts. His brother, Vincent McKusick, was chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Dr. Diana Bianchi gave a lecture on McKusick, with whom she worked. Bianchi is a professor at Tufts.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]

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