Optimal Care for Mainers is Goal of UNE Med School’s Move to Portland

UNE’s new medical school in Portland will prepare doctors for a health-care future that is more inclusive, accessible, and patient centered.

Dr. Jenna Wozer knew by the start of her third year of medical school at UNE that staying in Maine was her goal.
Dr. Jenna Wozer knew by the start of her third year of medical school that staying in Maine was her goal.
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Jenna Wozer remembers thinking, “I’ll never get there,” after her first appointment with an osteopathic physician. Her doubts had nothing to do with recovering from the injury he was treating. It was her new dream career that seemed far from reach. She’d foregone college for professional dance opportunities in San Francisco, but after meeting this doctor, who saw her “differently than other medical professionals . . . as a whole person,” she was intrigued by the possibility of becoming a D.O., like him.

There were plenty of pivots along her path to graduation from UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in May of 2022. But none were as dramatic as the leap Maine’s only medical school is poised to make. Plans are crystallizing for construction of a $93 million facility in Portland, which, by early 2024, will unite all of UNE’s students pursuing health careers on a single, city-block campus. Portland is already where dentists, nurses, dental hygienists, pharmacists, occupational and physical therapists, nurse anesthetists, and social workers are educated.

The new College of Osteopathic Medicine, shown in this rendering, unites all of UNE’s health-professions students on one vibrant campus.

UNE’s health sciences campus in Portland will soon be the most integrated institution of its kind in the region, perhaps in the nation, and a model for interprofessional education, wherein medical students study alongside other health professionals to learn today’s collaborative, team-based approach to health care. “Beyond class, opportunities for informal interactions are going to increase exponentially,” says Jane Carreiro, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine. “Students will be sharing coffee shops, study spaces, a library — it really creates a sense of community and belonging” that leads to mutual appreciation and respect, she says.

A collaborative environment like this aligns perfectly with osteopathy’s focus on team-based integration of all facets of patient well-being. Carreiro is also excited for student doctors to further utilize the university’s Simulation Center, which affords “the opportunity to create so many scenarios for them to learn how to communicate with a myriad of cultures and viewpoints.”

By the Numbers

The University of New England is the . . .


provider of physicians
and other health
professionals in Maine


medical school in the country for graduates practicing in rural areas

The move to Portland will allow for a . . .


increase in the number of students admitted to the College of Osteopathic Medicine

Of those who graduate . . .


stay in or return to
Maine to practice

There’s no disputing that Portland is the state’s health-care hub. Nor that the city has enormous appeal for incoming students. “The food scene is phenomenal,” says Wozer, who completed one of her rotations in Portland and recently started a job at Maine Medical Center. She loves the city’s craft cideries, its concert scene, its diversity. “Even though you’re living in this cool, fun, young city, you’re also getting really dynamic exposure to a vast demographic of patient populations,” she says, describing how her experiences with both rural Mainers, whose families stretch back generations, and recent refugees from Somalia helped shape her personal commitment “to provide equitable health care to every single person from every walk of life.”

Training osteopathic physicians for rural primary care in underserved areas remains at the heart of UNE’s mission, and each year’s 200 medical-school seats — up from 165 in Biddeford — will be offered to applicants who are enticed more by this need than by Portland’s vibrance. “A little over 40 years ago, a group of physicians mortgaged their houses and cashed out their savings accounts to start a medical school to train doctors to care for the people of Maine,” Carreiro reflects. “We’ve done that from the Biddeford campus, and the next step is to move to Portland so that we can do an even better job addressing the health needs of everyone in our state. That’s the reason we exist.”

Learn more about plans for UNE’s new, world-class interprofessional health-care education facility here.