UH Med Now

UH medical school’s Dr. Nash Witten is one of only 12 Family Medicine Trainees in the U.S. to receive “Excellence in Graduate Medical Education” honor

Date: October 12th, 2019 in Alumni News, Family Medicine, JABSOM News, MD Residents, Native Hawaiian Health, Rural    Print or PDF

A group photo of the awardees

Pictured: The 12 nationally recognized Family Physician trainees in the United States, including the University of Hawaiʻi JABSOM’s Dr. Nash Witten, standing, fourth from left.

By Tina Shelton, JABSOM Communications Director

Dr. Nash Witten, a Family Medicine trainee in the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) Family Medicine Residency Program, has received The American Academy of Family Physicians Excellence in Graduate Medical Education Award. The honor is reserved for only 12 of the 3,500 family medicine trainees in the United States.

Dr. Witten, a 2017 graduate of the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) is a native of Oʻahu‘s north shore. He was born in Kahuku and grew up in Haleiwa, and now is in his final year of training in the family medicine program, which is based in ʻAiea at the Hawaiʻi Pacific Health Pali Momi Medical Center through a partnership with UH JABSOM and The Hawaiʻi Residency Programs, Inc., a nonprofit consortium of the major medical centers in Hawaiʻi that support UH JABSOM’s clinical training.

“It was an honor to represent Hawaiʻi at the national conference,” said Dr. Witten. “I am grateful for the support of Ernel Roque, Chapter Executive of the Hawaiʻi Academy of Family Physicians (HAFP), Dr. Steven Hankins, UH Family Medicine Associate Program Director, and Dr. Seiji Yamada, mentor and faculty advisor, for encouraging me to apply for this award. I also want to thank the HAFP for supporting my attendance at hands-on simulations at the conference in Philadelphia.”

“The goal to return home as a Family Physician to provide primary care to my underserved community has always been at the forefront of my calling to be a physician.”

“After spending time during my undergraduate years shadowing physicians at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Kahuku and Hauʻula Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, I decided to become a Family Physician,” Dr. Witten wrote in his application for the award. “Having been born in Kahuku and received healthcare from this health center as a child; the goal to return home as a Family Physician to provide primary care to my underserved community has always been at the forefront of my calling to be a physician.”

That goal led him to apply for and be accepted as a National Health Service Corps Scholar during his first year of medical school. The scholarship freed him from the heavy financial burden of leaving medical training with more than $100,000 in tuition expenses. Dr. Witten says that fact encourages him that he may be able to can afford to practice primary care in his home community, his dream.

Dr. Witten was selected as co-chief resident of his Hawaiʻi residency program in this year, something he considers one of his most important professional accomplishments to date. Other professional goals he hopes to achieve include becoming a fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. Backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, learning to sail, and becoming scuba certified are among his personal pursuits. As a National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship recipient, Dr. Witten plans to work at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) following residency.

Dr. Witten has a number of other goals on his to-do list. Among them are to take on leadership positions at the Federally Qualified Health Center, to serve on a local Neighborhood Board, to serve as a clinical faculty member within the University of Hawaiʻi Family Medicine Residency program based at community health center and to volunteer as a preceptor for medical students at UH JABSOM. Also, having been a student and now a resident member of the Hawaiʻi Academy of Family Physicians, he plans to continue his membership as an attending physician and hopes to participate in a leadership role in the chapter as a rural, community health center-based Family Physician advocate.

Dr. Witten with Family Medicine Residency Alumni Delores Lee, MD, Olivia Kapono, MD, Adriann Bruce, MD and Kelly Makino, MD at the Philadelphia conference.

Dr. Witten entered JABSOM by completing the rigorous ʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program, an intensive year-long course of science and humanities aimed at giving aspiring medical students from underserved communities or disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to develop skills necessary to become a successful MD candidate.

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