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The health professionals chosen for the Clinical Scholars Program.

For the first time, Hawaiʻi professionals have been chosen for the exclusive Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars Program. Seven of those chosen are University of Hawaiʻi faculty.

Clinical Scholars is a national leadership development program for multidisciplinary health care providers who tackle complex health problems affecting their communities. The program funds projects with the ultimate goal of making America a healthier nation while developing a network of leaders.

This year, Hawaiʻi is the only state with two teams. The Hawaiʻi teams are focused on addressing issues on diabetes and housing insecurity as well as elderly health care.

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From left, Camlyn Masuda, Dee-Ann Carpenter, Francie Julien-Chinn, Marjorie Mau and Aukahi Austin Seabury.

John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Assistant Professor Dee-Ann Carpenter leads the team, “Empowering Hawaiʻis Homeless: Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes Education and Resilience Initiative.” Collaborating with Marjorie Mau (JABSOM), Camlyn Masuda (UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy), Aukahi Austin Seabury (I Ola Lāhui) and Francie Julien-Chinn (UH Mānoa Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work), the team will be working with the JABSOM Hawaiʻi Homeless Outreach and Medical Education (HOME) Project to develop an education and resilience program for homeless people who are pre-diabetic or diabetic.

“We hope to be able to effectively train future students, residents, volunteers and shelter staff to be better prepared for serving the homeless populations who either have diabetes mellitus (DM) or are pre-diabetic,” said Carpenter. “In addition, this is a great opportunity to learn from a wonderful organization about leadership both as individuals and as a team. I personally am looking forward to this training.”

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From left, Pia Lorenzo, Robin Miyamoto and Chad Kawakami.

“The KOKUA Project: Kūpuna Outreach and Knowledge in Underserved Areas” team is led by Pia Lorenzo (JABSOM) in collaboration with Robin Miyamoto (JABSOM) and Chad Kawakami (UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy). Their project aims to improve the care of the kūpuna in underserved rural communities, especially since Hawaiʻi’s aging population is growing rapidly while the state does not have enough geriatric specialists to meet their complex needs.

“I’ve experienced first-hand the heartache of too many of our kūpuna falling through the cracks due to systems issues despite the best efforts of dedicated health care professionals. Being a part of the RWJF Clinical Scholars program enables our team to get in the trenches with our colleagues fighting the good fight in underserved community health care centers,” said Lorenzo. “But now, with the RWJF’s support, we are able to help in a different way, and hopefully, in a way that creates a bigger and more lasting impact.”

For the full story, visit the JABSOM website.

—By Deborah Manog Dimaya