UH Med Now

A vision for 2020: Expanding medical training to Maui

Date: January 8th, 2020 in External News, IN THE NEWS, JABSOM News, UH Manoa, Workforce Development    Print or PDF

MD students training

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.

Amandalin Rock listens to the heartbeat of the infant manikin

“Having it on your own island makes it seem attainable,” said Amandalin Rock, listening to the heartbeat from an infant simulator in the JABSOM Simulation Lab. “Maui is a perfect place (for JABSOM to train MD students and residents).” Photo by Vina Cristobal.

“Having it on your own island makes it seem attainable,” said Rock, who first attended nursing school at Maui College. “Maui is a perfect place (for JABSOM to train MD students and residents). There is a simulation lab — I remember using it. There is a hospital with many areas of the hospital people can rotate through, as we did as nurses.”

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.

“If your zip code doesn’t start with 968 (the Honolulu zip code) you are already at a disadvantage,” said Madison Williams, a first-year student from Kula, Maui. “Not only because of lack of healthcare, but also there are less educational resources.”

Madison Williams learns to intubate a mock patient.

“If your zip code doesn’t start with 968 (the Honolulu zip code) you are already at a disadvantage,” said first-year MD student Madison Williams, shown opening an airway on a simulated patient. Photo by Deborah Manog Dimaya.

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”
Kelley Withy, MD, PhD, who leads multiple JABSOM programs aimed at generating interest in health careers among Hawaii students ranging from pre-teens to college kids, said, “The best way to get more doctors in the rural areas of Hawaii is to interest students in health careers early, support them along their career path and provide their medical training where we need them to work. This way they know the resources available, they know the needs of the community, they know the varied cultural expectations and they can serve their communities with the caring, knowledge and skill that our communities deserve. We have a program to help youth pursue health careers, so what we need now is the local training. I believe that is the missing piece in the puzzle of getting our health workforce where we need it to be.

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.

“The schools could provide the prerequisites to make it possible to go to medical school if the medical school opportunity was on the island,” said Amandalin Rock of Maui.

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:

Related stories:
Interview with Dean Hedges on hopeful Maui JABSOM expansion

UH to ask State Legislature to fund year-round JABSOM training of future doctors on Maui

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