A leader of Harvard University’s medical school recently thanked the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for its innovative longitudinal clerkships (an extended period of time during which a medical student is assigned to a community health center or physician’s office). He also said that Harvard modeled its program after UH‘s.

“We actually built our longitudinal clerkship program after having a phone call with the people here in Hawaiʻi. So, yeah, we’re sort of one of the children of your program,” said David Hirsh, director of the Harvard Medical School-Cambridge Integrated Clerkship, at the recent 2018 Hawaiʻi Health Professions Conference at JABSOM.

Hawaiʻi had this very strong sense of social accountability and community engagement. We saw those as fundamental to medical education as well. Hawaiʻi also thought very deliberately, ‘How do we design the education to get the outcomes we as a university and as a state seek for our patients?’ In other words, there were workforce imperatives,” Hirsh added.

The UH medical school’s clerkship program was launched about 25 years ago after noting the need to train its future physicians in communities where doctors were most needed. The school also wanted to nurture future physicians from cultural and ethnic groups not adequately represented by the healthcare workforce.

At JABSOM, medical students choosing the longitudinal program spend five months in a single place, learning from volunteer faculty physicians. The course is offered as an alternative track option for third-year medical students.

“The longer-term training in those communities allows the medical students to get intensive one-on-one mentoring from the physician they are paired with,” said Jill Omori, JABSOM director of medical education. “The students also get to witness the continuity of care, which is an important concept in healthcare today.”

At JABSOM, medical students are paired with preceptors at medical offices, clinics or hospitals on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island, Maui and Kauaʻi.

Read the full story on the JABSOM website.

—By Tina Shelton

Five people smiling
Nash Witten, JABSOM alumnus (back, left) during his clerkship at North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital.