Hilo Teen Health Camp participants (August 2015).

The University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) has been awarded more than $5 million to fund programs aimed at preparing young people in Hawaiʻi for health careers.

“At JABSOM we are very interested in helping prepare our state’s bright young students for career opportunities in health-related fields,” said Kelley Withy, director of the JABSOM Area Health Education Center, who oversees the programs. “There’s an enormous demand for healthcare workers in Hawaiʻi and it will only grow. We’re not just talking about physicians, but also about the hundreds of health professions that are needed to take care of our population, such as ultrasound technicians, community health workers and biomedical scientists.”

The programs that aim to spark an interest in healthcare include Teen Health Camps, held twice a year on the neighbor islands and once annually on Oʻahu. Following a successful run in Hilo in August, a Teen Health Camp was held on the JABSOM Kakaʻako campus on the weekend of November 7–8.

The camp included free workshops for middle school and high school students who are interested in health careers. JABSOM medical students acted as teaching assistants, sharing information on how to make a cast for a broken bone, sew up a cut on a mannequin’s arm and perform other hands-on activities.

More about the healthcare pipeline grants

The U.S. Department of Health awarded grants totaling $3.9 million through 2020 from the National Health Workforce Diversity Pipeline Program to fund the Hawaiʻi Pacific Basin Health Career Opportunities Program. HCOP’s goal is to increase the diversity of Hawaiʻi’s future health professionals workforce across the Pacific by providing summer bridge programs. The National Health Workforce Diversity Pipeline Program provides opportunities for disadvantaged and minority students to pursue medical education and health careers through mentoring and online educational opportunities. Both programs support the creation of a PreHealth Career Corps for students interested in health careers to get experience with research, shadowing, test preparation and application support throughout the process.

The National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education provided a five-year, $1.21 million grant to jumpstart science education experiences among young people through the Hawaiʻi Science Career Inspiration program. Students are mentored and teachers are provided professional development. Students and counselors will receive a copy of a Health Careers Navigator book that outlines the options in health available in Hawaiʻi and options for inclusion in activities such as the Teen Health Camps, sponsored by JABSOM.