Maine needs more doctors – and the need will only increase as Baby Boomers edge toward retirement in the nation’s oldest state: The U.S. Census Bureau estimates one in four Mainers will be older than 60 by 2030.

Maine Medical Center
, Tufts University, and the Welch Charitable Fund of the Maine Community Foundation are addressing the shortage through a program that connects future physicians with Maine communities. Students in the Maine Track MD Program spend most of their first two years taking classes at Tufts and their final two years in Maine, many in rural areas that have the greatest need for more doctors.

Two 2014 Maine Track graduates plan to land in Maine when they finish their residencies. Caitlin Hynes of Owls Head and Jasmine Hanifi of Falmouth received financial support for medical school as Welch Scholars. Hynes is a resident in emergency medicine at Maine Medical Center, and Hanifi is a resident in internal medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Established in 1983 as a family foundation, the Welch Charitable Fund moved in 2010 to the Maine Community Foundation. During their lifetimes, “Vinny” Welch and his wife, “Bobbe,” were committed to many educational, social service, arts, and health institutions.

Their scholarships made all the difference for the two Maine women. “Many of my friends are considering finding jobs around the country that will pay off their debt,” said Hynes, “but I can focus on my true dream of becoming a small town emergency room doctor.” Added Hanifi:  “Words cannot express how much your gift means to me.”

Photo: Sally Vamvakias (left) joins Jasmine Hanifi at the Maine Track Program celebration for 2014 graduates. Vamvakias is president of the Welch Charitable Fund and former chair of the MaineCF Board of Directors. Photo Maine Medical Center