Neighbor island kids check in at UH Manoa to learn about health careers

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Sheila Walsh,
AHEC Associate Director
Kehau Bishaw
Recruitment Specialist
Posted: Mar 24, 2009

Students from Hawaiʻi‘s neighbor island communities of Kauaʻi, Molokaʻi and the Big Island will check into University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa dorms this week, and spend three days learning about health careers. Many of the planned activities are hands-on and should provide a visual opportunity for media to learn more about the Hawaiʻi Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center or AHEC.

The program at the John A. Burns School of Medicine works to interest rural youth in health careers. It mentors more than 2,500 students a year from minority/underserved areas and backgrounds, seeking to encourage their interest in science and medicine.

The neighbor islands are among the neediest of Hawaiʻi‘s communities when it comes to attracting and keeping good health-care professionals. AHEC is working to recruit "locally grown" health-care workers, who also benefit from preparing for better-paying jobs than they might otherwise be able to find on their home islands. AHEC‘s Director, Dr. Kelley Withy, also has conducted the most thorough research to date on the health workforce needs on the neighbor islands.

Some of the more visual activities include a "Mock Emergency Medical Scenario" and a "Scavenger Hunt" on the UH Mānoa Campus.

The Mock Emergency will occur on Tuesday, March 24, around 2:30 p.m., during a canoe-paddling event at the Sand Island Public Launch Facility, with EMS personnel and a team of "Jr. Paramedics" (teens 'in-training'). "Jr. Paramedics," a summer program sponsored by the Honolulu EMS division, train students in first aid, CPR and life-saving skills. Once teens learn the skills, they get a chance to apply them in mock emergency situations. Ian Santee is a course instructor; this program typically offers demonstrations of medical emergencies and responses to traumatic injuries. This will be a water-related emergency scenario.

In the Scavenger Hunt (March 25 starting at 8:30 a.m. at Mānoa), the students are given "clues" and are accompanied by UH student advisors (near peer mentors) from the Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center or PAC, to discover a variety of facilities and resources on campus. They include the Professional Advising Center, Financial Aid, the Student Center and the Library. There is an element of a "race" to find the correct location of University buildings and resources. They will have questions for the faculty and students, and will be given backpacks to collect information as they go.

Finally, the students will tour the John A. Burns School of Medicine at Kakaʻako at 12:15 p.m. on March 25. The three-day conference, "Navigating Your Future in Health Professions," is sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Medical Services Association (HMSA) and the Office Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity or SEED. The conference is part of National AHEC Week, March 23-27, 2009. A network of over 200 AHEC programs and centers from New York to Hawaiʻi are celebrating their work by sponsoring various events and activities in their local communities.