SLIDESHOW-Match Day 2013: Can you owe more than $104,000 in educational debt and still be ecstatic?

Can you owe more than $104,000 in educational debt and still be ecstatic?  Yes, you can! We saw proof of that on Friday, March 15, 2013 at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), as members of the MD Class of 2013 opened the secret envelopes which revealed where they have been accepted into “Residency Training” as newly minted MDs.

They’ve worked years for the information inside those envelopes, and opening them on what is called “MATCH DAY” is a pinnacle moment of an MD’s career.

The “MATCH” is annually held simultaneously across the country’s time zones, with Hawai`i’s the earliest–our ceremony started at 7:00 a.m. Nationwide, 31,000 students were competing for approximately 24,000 residency positions. The National Resident Matching Program coordinates the “MATCH,” pairing students with training programs by computer, and delivering the information that was inside those envelopes.

The 55 members of our 4th year medical students “matched” into programs in 16 states, including Internal Medicine, Pathology, Family Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery in Honolulu, in programs overseen by JABSOM.

Class President Krista Kiyosaki drew laughter when she looked out at those gathered in the JABSOM Medical Education Building Auditorium for the Match Ceremony and said, “As I look out at the faces of the audience, I see survivors. And Iʻm not talking about the medical students,” Kiyosaki quipped. Her point was that loved ones, including the families of the students, had their own difficult journey in providing invaluable support. “Our lives are hard because we chose this, but your lives are hard because you chose us,” Kiyosaki explained.

The Class President was not referring to the expense borne by the families who are financially supporting our students. But she easily could have been.

On average, individual medical students who graduate from JABSOM have $104,586 in educational debt. As a class, the totals can seem staggering. JABSOM’s current MD student debt* is:

  • $2.2 million owed by 48 members of our MD Class of 2015
  • $3.4 million owed by 53 members of our MD Class of 2014
  • $3.9 million owed by 42 members of our MD Class of 2013

Keep in mind, also, that the median income of the families of our JABSOM MD students is $85,000 year*.

Nevertheless, at JABSOM, screams of joy erupted as the envelopes were opened, followed by several minutes of joyful hugging, high-five’s and even tears of joy, as class members learned who’s staying, who’s leaving, and where their training will take them next.

Our Class of 2013 includes five neighbor island students, and seven who came to JABSOM through our `Imi Ho`ōla Post-Baccalareate Program. Hawai’i residents comprise 90% of the class.

Through the Hawai`i Residency Programs, Inc., JABSOM trains more than 225 MD Residents in 14 specialties, so some of our newest MD graduates will stay here, while other new MDs from the around the world will begin making travel plans to train in the Aloha State once they earn their MDs this May.

On MATCH DAY we also learn which field of study our MDs have chosen. Thirty-three of our 55 fourth-year students chose primary care medicine.

“We have one of the strongest focuses on primary care of any medical school in the U.S.”, said JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges. “Consistently a majority of our graduates choose primary care fields, and this year 67% of our graduates are going into primary care. We have done a tremendous job of imparting the importance of primary care and care delivery to our students.”

The students’ choice is welcome news, because the ongoing shortage of physicians in Hawai`i is most severe in Primary Care. And JABSOM is very good at primary care. This week US News & World Report ranked JABSOM in the Top 75 on its “2014 Best Medical Schools” list.

Our embedded slide show (Flashplayer Required) features Arnold Kameda’s photographs from the JABSOM Match Day Ceremony 2013.

Story by Tina Shelton

To see our video of “The Moment” and read our MATCH LIST CLASS OF 2013, click MORE COVERAGE.

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