UH Med Now

What today’s doctors face is trying. Wait until you hear what some of our aspiring physicians endure.

Date: December 30th, 2019 in Donors, Faculty, Giving, JABSOM News, Student Life    Print or PDF

Robert and Heidi Hong

Pictured: Dr. Robert Hong and his wife Heidi.

Overwhelming debt leaves some reliant on food stamps and late for assignments when their bus is overdue.

Dr. Robert Hong is one of the islands’ most accomplished cardiologists, the generous gift by a patient whose life he saved which helped to launch Cardiology Fellowship Program at the University of Hawaii (UH), attests to that. He is also an exemplary leader in medicine, or he couldn’t have managed leading all of the physicians as Chief of Staff of Honolulu’s largest medical center for six years. He thought he had heard it all — and almost daily — about problems physicians face, until he volunteered to serve on the UH medical school’s admissions committee. What he learned in that experience led him to take action, creating the Robert and Heidi Hong Fund to help today’s medical students who are in need to get by.

But we will let him tell the story, in his own words:

By Robert Hong, MD

“I had spent the last 6 years of my career as the Chief of Staff of the Queen’s Medical Center. Almost daily, I would hear about the problems we faced as physicians; too much paperwork, unfair compensation, loss of autonomy and a general sense of dissatisfaction. This fall, I reviewed the medical student requests for scholarships. I learned that some of our students have overwhelming debt. Some are using food stamps to get by and others are late for assignments when their bus is overdue. I joined the Admissions Committee and read applications that described the trials and tribulations of those who were applying to medical school. I recognize that there are injustices in the world and as physicians, sometimes we are not compensated for our efforts but after looking back on our lives as doctors, we have great lives. We are able to get paid for helping others and doing the right thing. I thought that it is an important time to give back and help our colleagues who one day hope to be us. My wife and I feel that we should support our colleagues in the beginning of their career. In that mode, we established the Robert and Heidi Hong fund for the support of medical students. I don’t know all that this fund will support but we and others are trying to help medical students get through medical school. The fund will be dedicated to helping those in needs for emergency funding. It is not a big fund but all trips start with the first step. I know that our students will be able to take advantage of this fund when they are in extreme need. I hope that other physicians will look back to when we had nothing and help to make life easier in unexpected emergencies for our students in need. We are fortunate and we need to pay it forward and the hope is that recipients of any funds will themselves pay it forward in the future.”

About Dr. Hong
Dr. Robert Hong specializes in cardiology and advanced heart failure & transplant cardiology, cardiovascular disease and clinical cardiac electrophysiology. He graduated from University of California School of Medicine-San Francisco in 1981, completed his residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School and his fellowship at the Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center. He is a physician with University Health Partners of Hawaii.

Related Stories:

$1M gift launches Cardiology Fellowship

Cardiology Fellowship to graduate first Native Hawaiian woman cardiologist

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