Kihei Ceremony symbolizes journey to honored role of physician

Six students to become newest Native Hawaiian MDs this weekend

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Tina M Shelton, (808) 692-0897
Dir of Communications, Office of Dean of Medicine
Posted: May 10, 2012

Kihei recipients Leah Wang and Taylor Choy
Kihei recipients Leah Wang and Taylor Choy
The John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) is especially proud that it is the nation's only accredited medical school with a clinical department dedicated to the health of an indigenous people of the U.S.--Native Hawaiians.
A unique annual ceremony begun in 2010, the Kīhei Ceremony honors the achievement and commitment of our kauka ‘ōpio (young doctors) of Native Hawaiian ancestry.
This past weekend, the Native Hawaiian members of the MD Class of 2012 gathered to craft a kīhei, or a Hawaiian cloak, a garment that rests over one shoulder. Each kīhei tells the story of that student’s journey to medicine. The students also chose to adorn their kīhei with images of maile, to symbolize the entwining of various cultures and paths. It is the custom for the kauka ‘ōpio (young doctor) to make his/her own kīhei.
Four days later, at the Kīhei Ceremony, the students received their kīhei from kauka (Native Hawaiian physicians) who are part of ‘Ahahui o nā Kauka (an association of Native Hawaiian physicians) and/or the JABSOM Department of Native Hawaiian Health.
Similar to a physician’s white coat worn by all U.S. physicians, the kīhei symbolizes the responsibility the young people embrace as future Native Hawaiian physicians. The Kīhei Ceremony also includes mentoring from current kauka who will speak to the importance of kuleana (responsibility), pono (doing what is right), and lōkahi (teamwork).
JABSOM holds as a high priority the education and training of physicians from underserved communities, including Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Census data from 2011 showed only 3% of physicians practicing in Hawai`i are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, even though 26.2% of the population is of that heritage.
The new Native Hawaiian MD graduates will wear their kīhei during the MD Convocation Ceremony honoring all 64 of JABSOM's Class of 2012 MD graduates on May 13, 2012 at the Kennedy Theater at UH Mānoa. The annual kīhei event is sponsored by the Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence at JABSOM and ‘Ahahui o nā Kauka.
The Native Hawaiian students of the MD Class of 2012 are:
Natalie N.Y. Albanese
Taylor J. K. Choy
Bianca K. Chun
Kanoe-leuha E. C. de Silva
Melanie Payanal
Leah K. Wang

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