The community on Kauaʻi is so tight-knit that Erika Noel can’t go to Costco without seeing her young patients with their families. It’s what attracted Noel to the Garden Isle when she visited as a teenager and made it her goal to live there. Last fall, she moved to Kauaʻi to practice pediatrics and joined the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) as its new Kauaʻi Medical Training Track director.
The program was established in 2022 with a $10 million gift from Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg to help address Kauaʻi‘s physician shortage and directly improve the health and wellness of families on the Garden Isle. The first cohort of six first-year medical students joined the program in August 2022.
Each cohort will spend at least part of each year on Kauaʻi during their four years at JABSOM—by their third year, they will spend five to six months on the island as part of their clinical rotation. Students who complete the program will commit to practicing medicine on Kauaʻi for four years after finishing a residency program.
In her role, Noel will oversee the training curriculum and will guide the medical students as they shadow local doctors to learn the ins and outs of practicing medicine in a rural setting and participate in community health events.
Noel notes that doctors who practice rural medicine must be prepared to treat a wide range of conditions for all patients, since there may be few or no specialists. “The students will have exposure to this type of medicine that’s maybe not as practiced as much in more metropolitan areas where there are more specialists,” Noel said.
Noel grew up on Oʻahu and graduated from Kaiser High School in Hawaiʻi Kai. She earned her medical degree from JABSOM after graduating from Soka University of America in California and attending Georgetown University. In addition to running the Kauaʻii Medical Training Track for JABSOM, Noel is also a practicing pediatrician at Hawaiʻi Pacific Health’s Kauaʻi Medical Group.
Read more about Noel on the UH Foundation website.
More UH Newsstories on JABSOM’s Kauaʻi Medical Training Track:
- 41 years on Kauaʻi ‘a dream come true’ for JABSOM alum, October 7, 2022
- First students start Kauaʻi medical training program, August 23, 2022
—By Janis Magin