MD students, practicing MDs and others who have benefitted from programs of the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence and the Department of Native Hawaiian Health (DNHH) told their stories to members of the Senate Committee on Health on February 4, in a hearing at the State Capitol. Those testifying included graduates of the JABSOM `Imi Ho`ōla Post-Baccalaureate program.
The Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence (NHCOE) helps Hawaiian students to become competitive applicants to all types of health professions in schools such as JABSOM. Due to NHCOE’s pipeline efforts, nearly 25% of ʻImi Ho`ōla applicants for the 2013 entering class are Native Hawaiian, according to Dr. Keawe Kaholokula, Chair of the DNHH.
The ʻImi Ho`ōla program provides educational opportunities to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who demonstrate a commitment to serve in underserved communities of Hawaiʻi. To date, 226 `Imi Ho`ola alumni have successfully graduated from JABSOM. Of these graduates, 38% are Native Hawaiian, 85% are providing primary care services, and 96% are practicing in underserved and/or disadvantaged populations.
“It is vital that we address the health of our rural and neighbor island communities by addressing the physician shortage in these areas. In doing so, we need to ensure that the physicians we train to work in these areas are not only professionally but culturally competent to do so,” Dr. Kaholokula testified. “What is even better is that the physicians the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at JABSOM trains are from these communities and so many return there to serve.”
Pictured is MD student Paul A. Muna Aguon of Guam testifying before the committee. Behind him are MD students Steven Gonsalves of Maui and Kaimana Chow of Molokaʻi, who also testified.
Reporter Kristen Consillio of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser covered the issue in February 5, 2013 edition of the newspaper.