Lawmakers to consider expanding University of Hawaii medical school to Maui

Training future doctors on neighbor islands

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

In 2020, state lawmakers for the first time ever will consider whether to expand full-time training of the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) to other islands — starting with Maui. HI Now host Jobeth Devera is with Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, interim associate dean for academic affairs at the UH medical school, to learn more.

“More than 80 percent of JABSOM students come from statewide, and we currently train them in rotations all over the state. However, there is great value in having some students complete the majority of their four years of medical school in a neighbor island setting,” Dr. Buenconsejo-Lum says. She believes these students form greater ties to the community, gain an appreciation of the strengths and challenges of delivering health care in a rural setting and gain skills that may be different if they only train in urban settings in Honolulu.

“We know from experience with sending medical students and residents for longer rotations that many fall in love with and are more likely to return to practice on the neighbor islands,” she explains.

The medical school’s first request to the legislature is for $1.4 million dollars that would primarily fund a core of highly trained faculty and staff needed to create a rigorous, high quality medical education program for our students. These faculty would also form the base from which we can more fully engage existing and new partner clinical sites in which we can train students and residents in the clinical setting.

“If everything goes smoothly and we receive all of the necessary approvals, we hope to start recruiting faculty in 2020 and begin with a neighbor island medical student cohort in July 2021,” Dr. Buenconsejo-Lum says. Some of the new faculty would also see patients on Maui, which will help to more quickly address some of the physician shortage on that island.

“In order to expand our physician training opportunities throughout the state, we need these physicians who are partially supported by the state to focus on the education and training, which also providing clinical care to the patients who need it most,” she says.

For more information: jabsom.hawaii.edu, uhphawaii.org
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