An inaugural event at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) kicks off an initiative that aims to increase opportunities for youth to learn about a potential career in medicine while also helping to address the doctor shortage in the state.
The Huakaʻi (Voyage) Symposium was held on March 3, at JABSOM with more than 100 academic advisors and career counselors from middle and high schools across Hawaiʻi in attendance. The event included keynote addresses by Gov. Josh Green, UH President David Lassner, UH Regent Diane Paloma and JABSOM Interim Dean Lee Buenconsejo-Lum. Hawaiʻi Department of Education Superintendent Keith Hayashi led a plenary session that included representatives from several health academies and current medical students.
Counselors and administrators heard about the many programs offered through JABSOM for students interested in careers in science and medicine, including the Pre-Health Advising Center, rural health, Native Hawaiian health and anatomy.
“It’s just planting these seeds of ideas that it is a possibility,” said Jaimie Tom, associate director of admissions at JABSOM who organized the symposium. “What goes from being a dream, then becomes a goal, then you have a plan and you have people around you to really guide you. It’s about exploration. These are all departments housed in JABSOM that are doing wonderful things to outreach to the community, so it’s really about showcasing all of our talents here.”
JABSOM Huakaʻi is open to anyone who works with students or has a desire to support these efforts such as counselors, advisors, teachers as well as those in the business sector. The purpose is to provide a platform to allow engagement amongst community leaders and educators, as well as to highlight programs offered through JABSOM.
First-year medical student Jonathan Carino said he wished Huakaʻi existed when he was a student at Pearl City High School.
“When I was growing up, the message was out there, but I didn’t hear it. I think that’s the case for many people on this island who don’t have the resources or support. They just don’t know,” Carino said. “Programs and events like these to help outreach to people who otherwise won’t know, this is perfect for them.”
Through the Huakaʻi initiative, Tom hopes JABSOM can create a virtual hub and be a resource to establish more connections with Hawaiʻi students like Carino.
“There’s an endless amount of possibilities for that,” Tom said.