Second cohort of UH Kauai Medical Training Track students meet island’s healthcare community

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The second cohort of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Kauaʻi Medical Training Track met leaders of the Kauaʻi health care community at an event held at The Plantation House by Gaylords.

The second-annual event was an opportunity for the six first-year medical students to meet the island’s health care partners and to hear from a member of the inaugural cohort, which is starting its second year in the innovative program. 

The Kaua‘i Medical Training Track is funded by a $10 million commitment from Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg and is designed to help address the physician shortage and directly improve the health and wellness of Kaua‘i’s families, today and in the future.

Through the Kaua‘i Medical Training Track, six JABSOM medical students, with ties to Kaua‘i or another neighbor island and/or a strong interest in rural health, are accepted into the program each year. The program funds tuition and fees for all four years, as well as transportation and lodging.

The second cohort’s first-year medical students are: Nicole Hada, Zackary Kon, Nikki Ooka, Kennedy-Kain Tamashiro, Darcy Tokunaga and Heather Zimmerman.

Dylan Lawton of the inaugural cohort, a second-year medical student who has family on Kauaʻi, told the audience at the Aug. 18 event that he was able to shadow two physicians, Dr. John Funai, a cardiologist, and Dr. Eugene Lao, a family medicine practitioner, during his three months on Kauaʻi last spring.

“Through my observations of these great physicians, I not only observed their compassion, and their care for residents, I was also able to talk story with a lot of residents and really enjoyed learning about their livelihoods, their families and their hobbies,” Lawton told the audience. “I was also able to connect with them through my own Kauaʻi ʻohana and found that itʻs such a small island that everyone knows everyone.”

In addition to Lawton, the members of the first cohort of returning second-year students are Brent Fujimoto, Jaime Emoto, Erin Evangelista, Ivana Yoon and Kirra Borrello.

“Weʻre really grateful to the Chan-Zuckerbergs, JABSOM, Hawaiʻi Pacific Health and all others who made this amazing opportunity possible,” Lawton said. “We’re especially grateful to the Kauaʻi community for welcoming us with open arms into their homes and being able to serve.”