PUMPING THE EDUCATIONAL PIPELINE: 124 Neighbor Island high school students visit the University of Hawai`i medical school

They’re young, they’re smart and they’re interested in health careers. There’s not much on the horizon that will hold these high school students back! On February 21, 124 students from Maui, Moloka’i, Kaua`i and Hawai`i Island visited the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), thanks to the Hawai`i Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) program.

The value of their visits to JABSOM cannot be understated. Last year, students wrote us after-the-fact. Said one student, “The tour gave me more motivation to succeed in college and attend our local medical school. Learning about the opportunities that JABSOM provides helps me realize what makes our medical school outstanding. The Sim Tiki lab, the problem-based teaching scenarios, and the support of the community is something we can be proud of.”

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Neighbor island high school students gather for a greeting by the Dean at JABSOM on February 21, 2013.

A Moanalua High School student wrote,“Not only does this school provide hands-on activities that are exciting, but it also shows that students who attend this school get the best health education possible. I hope that we can continue to have these tours in the future to show more students like us the benefits of attending our top-rated local medical school”.

Our problem-based learning curriculum and the above-average scores by our medical students in national exams really impressed a Farrington High School student. “I was very surprised to hear that the JABSOM Class of 2012 all scored perfect on their recent exams. It goes to show how very dedicated and committed the students are in their studies. I also really liked the way the curriculum of JABSOM is set up. I think enforcing independent study from the first year is an excellent way of studying because I know that the students will find it useful in their medical careers,” he shared.

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Maui HIgh School students wore bright yellow tee shirts proclaiming their involvement in HOSA

A Mililani High School student said, “Because of this tour, we will be able to make more informed decisions about our future education, whether we choose the healthcare path or not. We will have the potential to be more successful individuals because of the achievement of past medical school students who have given back to the community as faculty.”

We can hardly wait to hear back from the neighbor island students who experienced yesterday’s problem-based learning sessions by Dr. Damon Sakai, Director of the Office of Medical Education, sat in on anatomical reviews and toured the Center for Clinical Skills. The students were greeted by Dean Jerris Hedges and Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence Director Dr. Winona Lee.

Dean Jerris Hedges calls had supportive words for the Hawai`i chapter of HOSA. “We at JABSOM understand the importance of building a strong pipeline from kindergarten to college, to build both enthusiasm and confidence for students and interest them in the health sciences,” said Dr. Hedges. “HOSA is an excellent partner in that effort and it’s delightful any opportunity we have to interact with their dedicated staff, volunteers and students.”

Other programs at JABSOM whose staff work full-time to encourage young people of all ages include the Hawai`i Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the `Imi Ho`ōla Post-Baccalaureate Program, the Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence and individual faculty members in disciplines ranging from Anatomy and Cellular and Molecular Biology to volunteer faculty MDs throughout our state, Dr. Hedges noted.

Story and photos by Tina Shelton.

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