Medical school receives funding to support physician training

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Jun 29, 2010

UH Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) is thrilled that Governor Linda Lingle has decided to release funds appropriated by the Hawai‘i State Legislature to support the training of physicians on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.
“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 Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i 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 Dr. Hedges.
 The outpatient component of the residency training program will be located at The Hawai‘i 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 Mānoa’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. Senator 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, Hawai‘i Mayor Billy Kenoi, the Hawai‘i 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 Dr. 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 Waikīkī at the Hawai‘i Physician Workforce Summit to address the doctor shortage. The summit is sponsored by JABSOM, the Hawai‘i/Pacific Basin Area health Education Center (AHEC), the Hawai‘i Independent Physician Association and HMSA.