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UHF staff
July 14, 2022
  • Doctor providing health care

A gift from Pūlama Lānaʻi to the University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine has strengthened the medical school’s Lānaʻi Medical Student Education Program, allowing medical students to spend more time immersed in Lānaʻiʻs rural communities in an effort to build and nurture a rural physician workforce there.

The program started as the Hawaiʻi Rural Health Program in 2011 to provide first-year medical students with the opportunity to deliver health care in rural areas of Hawaiʻi Island for 12 weeks.

In 2018, the program was expanded to allow the 12 students who participated in the Hawaiʻi Island rural health program to engage in a three-day program on Lānaʻi.

The recent gift from Pūlama Lānaʻi will now allow second-year medical students to participate in the Lānaʻi program for two full months, giving them valuable first-hand experience serving in a rural community.

While there, students will organize and participate in a community health fair, present various health topics to students at Lānai Elementary and High School, participate in mentoring activities with health pathway students and gain valuable clinical experience working with Lānaʻi Kinaʻole Home Health Services, the Straub Medical Centerʻs Lānaʻi Clinic, and at the Lānaʻi Community Hospital Emergency Room.

Tackling the Physician Shortage

The physician shortage in Hawaii is even more acute in rural communities such as Lānaʻi. Continuing its investments in improving access to care and improving overall health, Pulama Lānaʻi’s latest gift will give JABSOM medical students the exposure to practicing in a rural community and create opportunities to allow them to stay and practice on the island.  

The Hawaiʻi Rural Health Program has been effective at attracting young physicians to a career in rural health, with 21% of graduates practicing in rural communities, compared to 11% of total JABSOM graduates.

"Hawaiʻi’s significant physician shortages negatively impact health care delivery on all islands,” said JABSOM Dean Jerris R. Hedges. “Programs such as this Lānaʻi training experience supported by Pūlama Lānaʻi and partners will provide JABSOM medical students the opportunity to address health care needs and pave the way for future practice on Lānaʻi. Mahalo for helping JABSOM to expand its efforts on Lānaʻi."

“As members of the Lānaʻi community, we recognize the critical role community health plays in nurturing and protecting the health of our people,” said Kurt Matsumoto of Pūlama Lānaʻi. “Investing in a pipeline of future doctors to care for our island community supports our mission of improving healthcare access and building a sustainable future for all Lānaʻi residents.”

The medical students who train on Lānaʻi are also key to inspiring and motivating local students on the island to consider a career in medicine, an impact the Hawaiʻi Rural Health Program has had on Hawaiʻi Island.

“Taking care of your neighbors, providing longitudinal care, and helping the elderly age in place are my passions and I think Lānaʻi would be the perfect place to accomplish those goals,” says one second-year JABSOM student. “I would not have been able to realize this without the opportunity to live and study on Lānaʻi thanks to JABSOM and Pūlama Lānaʻi.”

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808-956-8700 or send us a message.