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Third-year medical student Nash Witten, right, shown enjoying his neighbor island clerkship training, supported by The Queen’s Health Systems. Also pictured at Waikoloa Medical Arts, from left, Linda Robertson, Stewart Lawrence and Chris Tom.

The Queen’s Health Systems (QHS) is investing nearly $3 million dollars over the next five years for education and community programs to improve the health of Native Hawaiians.

The $2.8 million recently pledged brings the total QHS investment in the University of Hawaiʻi Native Hawaiian Health programs to $10 million since 2002. QHS support has allowed the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) to leverage state and federal funds and establish a nationally recognized research division focused on reducing the disproportionately high levels of illness suffered by Native Hawaiians.

The funds also have strengthened JABSOM’s efforts to recruit more medical students of Native Hawaiian ancestry and other backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine and additional health-related fields. The latest investment expands on those efforts with a new initiative to support third-year medical students while they train on Hawaiʻi Island and Molokaʻi.

“Having students begin their clinical training in healthcare sites on Hawaiʻi Island and Molokaʻi will allow them to see first-hand the need for physicians in those communities, and to experience the rewards that come along with providing care where it is so desperately needed,” said JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges.

Among the medical students already learning beside neighbor island physicians is Nash Witten, of Haleʻiwa. “The entire state is at least 20 percent short of physicians, with our rural and neighbor island communities facing the most acute shortage,” said Witten. “The ideal fix to this shortage is to recruit and train kids in medicine from these rural communities, and to have them return home to work after training.”

Queen’s Health Systems support

QHS gifts have benefitted John A. Burns School of Medicine programs by:

  • Providing educational stipends that support aspiring doctors in the school’s ʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program, one of the most successful programs in the country to recruit and retain physicians from underserved communities or disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Supporting the development of several notable Native Hawaiian scholars whose research is aimed at improving Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander health.
  • Supporting more than 30 distinct community-based and community led projects across Hawaiʻi promoting health, which included many of the federally qualified community health centers, Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems and grassroots communities.
  • Investing in an extensive report produced in 2013 on the health status of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders—a landmark document which has helped to inform Hawaiʻi policy makers and others about the health needs of the population and the types of interventions most likely to succeed.

For more information on the Queen’s Health Systems donation, read the full story on the John A. Burns School of Medicine website.

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