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October 10, 2023

Northern Light Health partners with Atlanta medical school to bring diverse students to Maine

Courtesy / Northern Light Health Morehouse School of Medicine physician assistant students are shown from left: Hillary Birago, Madeleine Vinet, Katherine Bandstra, and Detavius Veal. They began clerkships earlier this week with Northern Light Health.

Northern Light Health is partnering with Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta to introduce physician assistant students to Maine in hope they'll ultimately practice in the state's rural areas. 

Morehouse, a historically Black medical school, offers a physician assistant program where students receive hands-on education in clinical areas including family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health and more. 

“Our mission at MSM continues to focus on creating and advancing health equity,” said Pangela Dawson, founding program director of the school's physician assistant studies. “Birthing new collaborations such as this allows both entities to enhance the health care system while expanding and diversifying the health care workforce."

On Sept.25, the first four Morehouse students arrived at Northern Light Health’s home office in Brewer for training before entering their clerkships. 

After training, students began their rotations in four-week increments at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and AR Gould Hospital in Presque Isle. Students receive mentorship from local physicians and PAs, who serve as clinical preceptors, and also have the opportunity to get clinical experience at Acadia Hospital in Bangor and Mercy Hospital in Portland.

“Programs like the clerkship with Morehouse School of Medicine have played a pivotal role in Northern Light Health recruiting talented providers to Maine’s most rural areas, where we know access can be a struggle,” said Dr. James Jarvis, director of clinical education at Northern Light Health. “Through a variety of preceptor programs, we’ve seen a lot of success for the students and for our patients, communities, practices, and hospitals."

Darmita Wilson, vice president of Northern Light Medical Group, said, “We do have diversity here in Maine, and it’s important that we have providers who look like the people receiving care. Right now, we’re seeing shortages in rural medicine around the country, and MSM is preparing physician assistants to go out into regions like Maine and serve our patients.”

Northern Light Health, the state's second-largest health care system after MaineHealth, comprises 10 member hospitals with 987 licensed beds; a single physician-led medical group; eight nursing homes with 585 long-term beds; five emergency transport members and 37 primary care locations. The system employs more than 12,000 people in Maine.

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