John A. Burns School of Medicine 2019 MD graduate celebrates next chapter in life

Sponsored by University Health Partners of Hawaii & the John A. Burns School of Medicine

Medical student Michael Brigoli has studied long and hard to become a 2019 MD graduate at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Brigoli grew up in the foster care system and eventually spent time as a paramedic in the army and a firefighter paramedic in Hilo. Seeing how much Hawaii Island was suffering because of its desperate need for physicians prompted his decision to change careers.

“It was my job as a paramedic that showed me firsthand how great the need was,” Brigoli said. He explains that from what he’s seen, there just aren’t enough doctors to treat and care for everyone in need. “As a paramedic, I received a lot of calls to pick up people for very routine things like simple coughs. Many saw the paramedics as a way to get in front of a doctor when needed.”

The death of Brigoli’s uncle was another major catalyst in his decision to apply for medical school. Brigoli says he loves taking care of patients and his community and wants to see a better Hilo. “It hasn’t been a simple journey or an easy one,” he said. “Growing up, I statistically had a greater chance of being incarcerated than being a doctor.” It was a leap of faith he says he and his entire family had to make.

“My wife had to become the breadwinner so I could focus on learning,” he said. His family made a lot of sacrifices to start this journey, including uprooting their lives and everything they had built on Hawaii Island to move to Oahu for medical school. Now, he is finally on the cusp of graduating and fulfilling a dream that has been a long time in the making.

Eventually, Brigoli and his family plan to move back to Hawaii Island and open a practice there in Internal Medicine or Cardiology.  “I want to do my part in my hometown by helping those who need medical attention,”  he said.

For those thinking about starting a career in medicine, Brigoli says never be afraid to follow your dream. “You are never too young or too old to start something, as long as your heart is in it.”

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