UH Med Now
A vision for 2020: Expanding medical training to Maui
Pictured: Madison Williams and Bianca Calio, MD 2023 candidates, during an intubation workshop at JABSOM. Vina Cristobal photo.
By Tina Shelton, JABSOM Communications Director
Convinced that an ever-worsening shortage of doctors threatens our state’s welfare, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents has agreed to ask the 2020 Hawaiʻi State Legislature to begin an expansion of the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) to Maui. Governor David Ige also backs the proposal to create a Maui-based teaching hub that would educate MD students and serve as a base for residency program expansion where some MDs receiving additional specialty training after graduation from medical school could do part of their specialty training in Maui under supervision. Together, those steps are the most effective action that can be taken to increase the ranks of MDs in Hawaiʻi .
“We know that our students who graduate from the University of Hawaiʻi medical school and also train in a UH residency program are 80% likely to remain in Hawaiʻi to practice,” said Dr. Jerris Hedges, JABSOM Dean. “Important life changes happen during medical school and after—people get married and start having a family. If they can do that in residency and here at home they’re just more likely to stay.”
JABSOM already accepts students statewide, but there is a tendency for young people to be drawn into professions where training is visible their own community, according to second-year medical student Amandalin Rock of Haʻikū.
Synergy with UH Maui College and a healthcare community that already partners in some ways with JABSOM is one advantage to starting the pilot expansion project on the Valley Isle. The first step is legislative approval for funding to hire faculty.
“The request is $1.4 million dollars, which would fund faculty positions in several different specialties, including PhD- level educators and some key administrative staff, said Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, JABSOM Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “Because of our national accreditation requirements, the educational experiences, including in how we evaluate them must be at the same high level across the islands, and consistent with national standards. Therefore, we must have compensated, highly trained academic educator faculty to fulfill that critical role.
The possibility of future medical students attending JABSOM full-time for all four years of school excites the Maui medical students now learning on Oʻahu. They believe having JABSOM on Maui will boost education opportunities on the island overall.
JABSOM Interim Associate Dean Buenconsejo-Lum, who grew up in rural Wahiawa on Oʻahu, said, “We know that it’s important to take the training to the neighbor islands. Our students who go there form a better connection with the community and get experiences that are different from what you would see on Oʻahu. This is an important step to create physicians comfortable practicing in rural settings that we need for the state,” said Buenconsejo-Lum.
“The missing piece in the puzzle”
Maui MD student Amandalin Rock believes training MDs on Maui will boost education at schools and college on the island by motivating educators to include prerequisite medical courses in their curriculums.
With funding in hand, JABSOM says the initial phase of recruitment could begin in the next academic year, with potentially the first Maui class opening in July 2021.
Watch the interview with Associate Dean Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, below: