UH Med Now
PMAG student lounge gets a fresh makeover and offers a sense of community
The Pacific Medical Administrative Group Hawaii (PMAG) Student Lounge at the University of Hawaiʻi medical school received a much needed update over the summer. The student lounge in the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM)’s Medical Education Building (MEB) offers a relaxed atmosphere for students to get some work done, heat up their meals and enjoy hot food between classes. The student lounge provides a space to unwind from the busy life of a medical student.
While many students have come and gone through the student lounge since it opened in 2006, not much has changed in its interior design. However, thanks to the PMAG endowment, specifically created to fund the lounge’s maintenance, changes were made. Interior designer and founder of Loulu Design Studio, Stephanie Schlink, was recruited to transform the lounge’s dated look into a more modern design.
Schlink focused her design on an art piece donated by the Class of 2017 that hung on the lounge’s wall prior to the renovations. Inspired by the hues of the portrait, Schlink chose a calming shade of light blue to coat the walls, while various shades of darker blue were chosen to tile the floors. She also incorporated other surf-themed posters that were hung up pre-renovations, and gave them new life by framing them. A poster of legendary Native Hawaiian surfer, Duke Kahanamoku hangs among them, which is interesting to note as Kahanamoku’s wife, Nadine, set up the Nadine Alexander and Duke Kahanamoku Scholarship, specifically for Native Hawaiian students pursuing medicine.
Schlink’s overall goal with the new design was to create a functional space where more students can relax and get together.
“[My goal] was to make [the lounge] more of a community space, a little more functional, a good place to unwind…and just making it so more people can enjoy it together,” she said.
That idea of the lounge being a “community space” resonated with MD 2025 candidate, Jeffrey Hayashi. For him, the lounge allows him and his classmates a place to take a quick study break and to mingle with not just his classmates, but with students in other classes as well.
“The biggest thing for us [medical students] is community, and the lounge facilitates community,” Hayashi said. As a second-year student, he has experienced the PMAG student lounge pre- and now post-renovations. “The new renovations are going to help out in a big way because the orientation allows for more inter- and intra-class mixing. I think that’s going to make this year extra special. [It also] allows for people to sit down in front of the new 80-inch TV, which I’m most excited about.”
The new TV, which has been anticipated by many, is just one of the many upgrades in the lounge. In the past, older TV models have been donated, as well as game consoles the lounge accumulated with each new series. Schlink made sure to include an iron and wood entertainment unit to go along with the overall aesthetic of the lounge.
To complete the look of the quaint entertainment area is a comfy L-shaped couch, which replaced the two armchairs and side table that once looked out into the JABSOM courtyard. A new air hockey table took the place of an old foosball table, originally donated by the University of Hawaiʻi. The air hockey table is still waiting on a final piece to come in – a cover that will convert it from recreational use to functional use, as a dining table or workspace. New bar stools were also added for that purpose.
The lounge’s kitchenette appliances were also upgraded with a sleek French-door refrigerator, two new microwaves, and an updated toaster oven and coffee machine. It also features a gooseneck sink faucet, making it much easier for students to wash their dishes, namely their water bottles.
Thanks to JABSOM’s amazing Facilities team for pitching in to help with painting, plumbing, and other work, the lounge was finished just in time for the incoming Class of 2026 to enjoy. To commemorate the renovations, the PMAG Student Lounge had a small official unveiling ceremony on Thursday, July 28, 2022. In attendance were Schlink, Hayashi and a fellow MD 2025 classmates Lauren Kirkwood-Johnson and Tiffany Kurozawa, JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges, Director of Student Affairs Dr. Larry Burgess, and Dr. Donna Mah and Michael Chang, PMAG’s president and executive director, respectively.
It was the first time Chang and Mah were able to see the PMAG student lounge in person. Both were extremely impressed by the changes and happy to give back to and support the medical students.
“On behalf of the [PMAG] Board of Directors and our organization, we want to contribute a small way to help the students for their experience in medical school, their residency, but even beyond,” Chang said. He also echoed Schlink and Hayashi’s theme of building a community in the lounge. “This is a space where you folks can build friendships, lifelong bonding friendships.”
Mah also touched on the importance of building bonds with colleagues through using the lounge as a community space. She also hopes that the lounge will eventually help the medical students consider where they will be after graduating from JABSOM.
“We want to encourage our students here at JABSOM to hopefully stay in Hawaiʻi and enter the private practice world, which is PMAG’s mission,” Mah said. “By getting our name out there and giving them that space, we want them to think about us and think about their training.”
The PMAG Endowment will continue to provide annual funding for basic maintenance and supply replenishment, however, students using the space are responsible for basic upkeep and cleaning of the lounge. The PMAG student lounge is now open to JABSOM ‘Imi Ho‘ōla, medical, and graduate students during MEB hours of operation. All must adhere to the lounge rules.
By Janell Agcaoili, JABSOM Communications
See pictures of Flickr photo album by Janell Agcaoili: