FROM WAI`ANAE TO WAIĀKEA: New `Imi Ho`ōla medical school preparation class includes a dozen aspiring physicians

The `Imi Ho`ōla (“Those who seek to heal”) Post-Baccalaureate Program’s Class of 2013-2014 is in the house! The newest class includes a dozen college graduates from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds or communities, who have been selected to earn admission to the University of Hawai`i John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) through a challenging one-year premed course.

The class consists of nine men and three women, with a diverse representation of islands throughout the Pacific: O`ahu, Hawai`i Island, Pohnpei, Guam and The Philippines. Nine of the twelve students graduated from public high schools including Waiākea High School, Waialua High School, Kalaheo High School, Kaiser High School, Moanalua High School and Roosevelt High School.

Our new class
They hail from the Hawai`i communities of Kalihi, Wai`anae (2), Hilo (2), Kane`ohe, Waialua (O’ahu) and Honolulu, as well as from Guam (2), Pohnpei (part of the Federated States of Micronesia) and Luzon (The Philippines).

Half of the students in this year’s class received their undergraduate degree from a University of Hawaiʻi campus, either the University of Hawai`i Mānoa or the University of Hawai`i Hilo.

This class also has the distinction of starting its work during the 40th anniversary of the `Imi program, which is part of the JABSOM Department of Native Hawaiian Health. Two hundred thirty-four (234) former `Imi Ho`ōla participants have successfully completed the preparatory program and gone on to earn their MD degrees from JABSOM.

About `Imi
“This is a program that is of great value by our school because it allows students whose path to medical school has been nontraditional, who have been sometimes challenged by difficulties getting through coursework and studying while working a job, to be compared as equals during the application process,” said JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges, MD, who himself is a product of a rural upbringing.

`Imi is especially committed to building the workforce of diverse physicians for rural communities in Hawai`i and the Pacific, and its record in that area is outstanding. At least 80% of the doctors trained through the `Imi program are practicing medicine in under-served neighborhoods in Hawai`i where they are needed most, and 40% of them are Native Hawaiians.

“We are especially grateful for the generous financial support we have received over the years from The Queen’s Health Systems to pay the `Imi students stipends which allow them to forgo having to work a job, and to focus full-time on their studies during the program,” said Dr. Winnie Lee, Director of the `Imi Ho`ōla program. Dr. Lee and JABSOM are also grateful to the Hawai`i State Legislature for its support of `Imi and programs of the Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence in the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the medical school.

Meet the class
Our main photograph taken in the Medical Education Lobby at JABSOM features The `Imi Ho`ōla (“Those who seek to heal”) Post-Baccalaureate Program Class of 2013-2014, at the University of Hawai`i Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine. `Imi Class of 2013-14 members Leimomi Kanagusuku of Wai`anae, Arcelita Imasa of Luzon, Janine Bumanglag of Wai`anae (front row) and Chad Imanaka of Hilo, Chad Russell of Kane`ohe, Gabriel Lapid of Guam, Jalkennen Joseph of Pohnpei, Matthew Kawahara of Honolulu, Kiran Kepo`o of Hilo, Joseph Brooks of Kalihi, Joel Sabugo of Waialua and Alister Tang of Honolulu (second row).

Learn more
To learn more about `Imi, see `Imi 2013 Completion Ceremony VIDEO and

Special mahalo to Chessa DeCambra and Dr. Lee for sharing the news about our new `Imi.

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