two men holding a big check
JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges and Howard Lee, UHA president and CEO.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) received a $100,000 gift from longtime medical education advocate University Health Alliance (UHA) Health Insurance to help launch its newest curriculum fostering physician-patient relationships.

The Learning Communities program, which began with the new MD Class of 2024, is designed to help JABSOM graduates learn to develop trusting doctor-patient relationships that have been shown to improve health outcomes. The program is supported by the Dr. Max Botticelli Memorial Endowment for Innovative Medical Education. UHA has been a major contributor to the endowment, which was established by the Botticelli family in 2012 to honor the values he held as a practicing physician, JABSOM faculty and a co-founder of UHA in 1996.

Fostering a collaborative environment

Through the program, the new class was divided into six smaller moku (supportive pods) led by faculty/community physician mentors that will remain together for all four years of medical school. They will meet twice weekly and allow students to merge what they learn from the books and understand the information through the lens of a patient. The mentors will continue to support students through their four years of medical school.

The Learning Communities’ mission statement is to foster a collaborative environment that supports the growth of clinically competent, culturally sensitive, compassionate and professional physician leaders who are connected and committed to our communities.

“The art in medicine gets lost sometimes when they (students) are focused on reciting medical facts to an instructor in a classroom. The Learning Community provides a way to interact with students and to fulfill many of their professional and personal needs, giving them a more resilient character for the future,” said JABSOM Dean Jerris R. Hedges, who embraced Botticelli’s vision that JABSOM be at the forefront of medical education and curriculum development by emphasizing teaching excellence.

“Dr. Botticelli and other physician-teachers established UHA with the goal of offering health plans that support strong doctor-patient relationships,” said Howard Lee, UHA president and chief executive officer. “We believe this is the kind of effort he would have supported, and very much hope that this will help attract other donors to a program that is critical to the health of Hawaiʻi’s people.”

Read more on this initiative at the JABSOM website.

—By Melia Young