The John A. Burns School of Medicine has 462 students enrolled in 2013 in Public Health, Communications Sciences & Disorders, Medical Technology, the advanced biomedical sciences and Medicine. Of the more than 250 medical students, 90% are residents of Hawai`i representing every county in the State. Additionally, another 225 newly minted MDs are employed throughout our State and preparing for licensure and board certification in our public-private partnership with Hawai`i’s major health care centers.

Rural health loan repayment program launched
We have submitted several reports to the Hawai`i State Legislature this session, which provide details on expenditures at the School. These reports address those areas where the Legislature has generously helped us meet our operating expenses, expand neighbor island training and build the physician workforce statewide. We have exciting news about our rural outreach.  First, inspired by members of the Legislature, JABSOM secured financial support from HMSA and Queen’s and federal Affordable Care Act funds to begin a loan repayment program helping professionals to pay their educational expenses. We have started this program with two family physicians and two nurse practitioners who have committed to serve rural communities on O`ahu, Hawai`i Island and Maui.

Neighbor island training
We are now rotating our MD students through training on each of our islands from ‘Ele’Ele on Kaua’i to North Hawai`i on Hawai`i Island to continue to stimulate their interest is rural practice. Our MD students are still helping O’ahu’s homeless populations in Honolulu and on the Leeward Coast. They’ve provided more than 7,600 health assessments since 2006.

Forging an inter-disciplinary “hui”
For the second year in a row, our UH Mānoa nursing students and MD students have trained together. We are forging an inter-disciplinary “hui” (or group) among our partner schools in the College of Health Sciences & Social Welfare, the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work and School of Nursing & Dental Hygiene; and of course we continue to support Public Health day-to-day and in its long-range aspirations.

Helping grow Hawai`i’s economy
Synergy in the health life sciences is also present with the new UH Cancer Center opening in Kaka`ako. As the Cancer investigators move into the new Cancer Center building, we foresee additional laboratory space opening at JABSOM where, hopefully, we can further the research which annually brings more than $42 million into Hawai’i’s economy. That economic boost is compounded by the education of local men and women who enter Hawai`i’s workforce every year in higher-than-average paying jobs because JABSOM trained them in Hawai’i as physicians, scientists and medical technologists.

Our featured photograph: Dr. Kahealani Rivera, who in 2013 will become Hawai`i’s first female Native Hawaiian cardiologist, Dr. John Michael Chua Chiaco, and Dr. Anne Kemble. They are fellows in the JABSOM Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program.

Story by Tina Shelton

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