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National recognition for MD 2019 student Elisabeth Young of Kauaʻi

Date: August 7th, 2018 in JABSOM News, Pediatrics, Rural, Student Life    Print or PDF

Dr Teranishi, Elisabeth Young and Dr. Burgess

Pictured: Elisabeth Young was surprised with the USPHS award during Senior Seminar at JABSOM, by Dr. Kristen Teranishi (left) and Dr. Larry Burgess (right) of the Office of Student Affairs.

Kauaʻi is the home she longs to serve as a doctor, as an anonymous act of kindness to her family once reminded her.

By Tina Shelton, JABSOM Communications Director

A University of Hawai’i (UH) medical student from Kaua’i has earned awards for her scholarship and leadership from two major medical organizations.

Elisabeth Young of Līhuʻe, a senior at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), is the winner of the 2017-2018 Excellence in Public Health Award from the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). The award recognizes medical students who are leaders in public health issues in their communities, and who increase awareness of the U.S. Public Health Service’s mission to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the nation.

Young also has been selected by the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation to attend the first AMA Foundation Leadership Development Institute. The AMA Foundation will finance her travel to attend the Institute in Chicago, September 6th to the 8th, 2018.

Elisabeth Young of Kauaʻi, a member of the MD Class of 2019.

Public health, including incorporating social change to improve health, has been a passion of Young’s since she began to observe patients in medical settings through her time at JABSOM.

“Once these patients would leave the clinic or hospital, they would return to the same conditions that made them sick. That was playing in my mind all the time,” said Young.

“As doctors we have the privilege of being let into patient’s lives,” said Young. “For me, this means recognizing the support people need to stay healthy. For example, right now one in six children in Hawaiʻi struggle with hunger. This is something we can and should fix,” said Young.

Young is so dedicated to promoting public health that she took a one-year leave of absence from JABSOM to attend Harvard University, where she earned a Master’s in Public Health degree from the T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

Young, a 2009 graduate of Kaua’i High School, and the University of Puget Sound (B.S., Biochemistry), found Harvard impressive “and a little intimidating.” But she thrived there, conducting research at Boston Children’s Hospital, spearheading a partnership between Harvard and Sportsman’s Tennis and Enrichment Center, which empowers elementary school aged students from underprivileged communities to rise as leaders.

Her public health education taught her the importance of implementing community-based health improvement projects, and to strictly evaluate their effectiveness. “We should bring the same rigor to studying our public health programs as we do to scientific research,” she said, “We should fund programs that work”

Back at JABSOM, Young is a member of the MD Class of 2019, which graduates next May. She was inducted this year into the Gold Humanism Honor Society at JABSOM. She expects that her post-graduate medical training will be in the field of Pediatrics. Her ultimate goal is to return home to support the island she says has given her so much.

She recalls growing up when the stove in her house stopped working. “We weren’t able to buy another one so we spent a few weeks cooking outside,” Young recalled. “Then one morning someone had left us a brand-new stove, as an anonymous gift. That is Kauaʻi to me – people really care about each other and I hope I can give back as generously as my community raised me.,” said Young.

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