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UH Manoa medical school receives funding to support physician training


Jerris Hedges

Jerris Hedges

UH Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) is thrilled Gov. Linda Lingle has decided to release funds appropriated by the Hawai‘i State Legislature to support the training of physicians on the Big Island.

“With the growing physician shortage we face in Hawai‘i, this is a crucial step forward,” said Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean of JABSOM. “The effort to establish a residency training program on Hawaii Island has been an immense collaborative undertaking involving so many people in the community as well as in state, county and federal government.”

The state’s appropriation, which involves $140,000 for the next two years, is intended to go toward the start-up of a Hawaii Island residency training program under development. In that program, newly graduated medical doctors (“residents”) would spend three years undergoing specialty training in family practice under the direction of the medical school’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

Once the program is formally established and provisionally accredited, which is expected within two years, the medical school believes that a combination of clinical revenue and federal training dollars, coupled with support from Hilo Medical Center, will serve to make the program sustainable. It hopes to graduate four family medicine specialists per year.

“This is so important because we know that eight out of ten physicians tend to open practices in the communities in which they complete their residency training,” said Hedges.

The outpatient component of the residency training program will be located at The Hawaii Island Family Health Center, which opened in April 2009 and treated 634 patients in its first year of operation. The multi-disciplinary clinic treats patients and employs health professionals from JABSOM and its training partners—UH Manoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, UH Hilo’s School of Nursing and College of Pharmacy, and the Hilo Medical Center.

The clinical training center was established with key support from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and funds from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Hawai‘i Medical Service Association (HMSA), TRI-WEST, the Hilo Medical Center Foundation, Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi, the Hawaii County Council and citizens of the Big Island.

“The state funding will build on that support and is an essential piece of a larger plan to ensure we have enough physicians on Hawai‘i Island and throughout our state in the coming years,” said Hedges. “We recently recruited a third physician for the Hilo training center, and we are in the process of recruiting a forth.”

Research by JABSOM, funded by the Hawai‘i State Legislature, has established that, given its population, the state is at least 500 doctors below the national norm, and the gap may double or triple in the next decade as physicians near retirement. The shortage of primary and specialty care physicians has been especially critical on the neighbor islands in recent years.

On June 29, more than 100 leaders in health-care and public policy from all islands are meeting in Waikiki at the Hawaii Physician Workforce Summit to address the doctor shortage. The summit is sponsored by JABSOM, the Hawaii/Pacific Basin Area health Education Center (AHEC), the Hawaii Independent Physician Association and HMSA.

One Response to “UH Manoa medical school receives funding to support physician training”

  1. AMA says:

    The physician shortage in Hawaii is one example of a growing problem across the U.S. As millions of Americans obtain health insurance for the first time and can now access ongoing health care, it’s critical that our nation ensures a strong and viable physician workforce. A shortage of 85,000 physicians in specialties as varied as primary care, cardiology, oncology and general surgery is predicted to hit America by 2020.

    It’s clear that there is more to be done to attract the best and brightest students to careers in medicine and to keep practicing physicians caring for patients. The current average medical student debt is $155,000, and students and residents need help identifying funding sources and managing financial issues. Congress must lift the cap on government-funded medical residency training slots so that all future medical students can finish their training and become full-fledged physicians.
    -American Medical Association


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