UH Med Now

Grateful Parent Reflects on Daughter’s Time at JABSOM

Date: November 16th, 2022 in FOMS, Hawaii HOME Project, JABSOM News, Student Life    Print or PDF

When a student attends JABSOM, they’re getting an education that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, and that fact is not lost on parents.

2017 JABSOM graduate Elysse Tom’s mother, Liz, shares that it’s not just the Problem Based Learning (PBL) adopted by JABSOM that makes the medical school special—it’s that students often have the opportunity to serve in the community where they grew up.

In 2013, while a relative attended a medical school on the continent, Tom attended JABSOM. Her mother said there were stark differences in the learning environments. “PBL made things so much more interesting than sitting through a lecture,” Tom said. “Elysse’s relative and friends said it was boring having to sit through lectures for all four years, and it made her appreciate how JABSOM utilizes PBL.”

As part of the curriculum, it’s required that JABSOM students venture out of the classroom and into the community to serve some of Hawaiʻi’s most vulnerable populations. Dr. Jill Omori’s H.O.M.E. Project brings direct care to the houseless. “Jill Omori and the H.O.M.E. Project was such a big influence,” Tom said. “It helped Elysse develop so much empathy for our houseless, especially the children.”
Liz said, “Elysse would tell me about her experiences and how it would tug on her heart to treat young children coming in with ailments and illnesses. It also opened my eyes. Elysse’s experiences gave me a greater empathy and appreciation for the situation.”

In Elysse’s second year, she spent a summer with JABSOM’s exchange partner, Osaka Medical College. “She loved that experience and learned so much about the culture. They would have weekend excursions and jump on a train to Kyoto and Tokyo. I’m so happy she had that opportunity, and it’s because she was a JABSOM student,” Tom said.

The Tom family has a solid connection to JABSOM. Liz is the treasurer of the Friends of the Medical School. Formed by parents, faculty, and others in the medical community to support JABSOM’s students, Liz is motivated to continue to volunteer because of the enriching experience Elysse had.
“I thought it was a great way to have a better connection to the school and my daughter. Elysse would be surprised when I engaged in conversation with her about some of the things going on at the school. It brought us together,” Tom said.

Elysse is completing a retinal fellowship in Missouri, but when it’s complete, Liz says her daughter will fulfill another of JABSOM’s missions—caring for Hawaiʻi’s people. “JABSOM engrains the importance of serving our population and addressing the physician shortage. My daughter always knew that she would come back, and we were happy too. She’ll be moving back in 2023 when her fellowship is done, and I’m sure she’ll be involved with the school one way or another.”

Matthew Campbell, Director of Communications

Liz and Elysse Tom

Liz and Elysse Tom

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