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JABSOM gives hands-on experience for Hawaii high schoolers

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Dozens of students from across the state are getting a taste of what it’s like to work in the medical field. A week-long program at the University of Hawaii medical school hopes to pique their interest in tackling the ongoing shortage of doctors and medical professionals.

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It’s part of the “Medical Diagnosis Treatment Program” at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
Students have time in class and the lab to study topics such as ultrasound, sutures, and patient care.

“That was very interesting,” said Te’la Larinaga-Williams, Nanakuli High School Senior. “I never gotten to do that. I never went to check somebody and it was just very interesting. Was cool. I felt like I was one doctor.”

“We got to the lab and we got to touch preserved organs like the heart, touching the brain and the kidneys, the liver,” said Mary Joy Velasquez, Lahainaluna High School Junior. “I thought it was very cool but it was a weird experience.”

The program started in 2013 and tries to get students from all over the state of all different backgrounds.

“I’m very honored because being from Waianae, we get stereotyped a lot,” said Camille Josue, Waianae High School Senior. “It’s a good opportunity for me to represent my community and show them we can do just as much as anybody from anywhere else.”

“For public schools to be able to participate is, very sentimental,” said Larinaga-Williams. “It’s very important to me.”

“Getting the hands-on experience, it’ll make me have the feel of, ‘Do I wanna do this,’” said Mabea De Guzman, Maui High School Senior.

Officials hope the answer to that question is yes. Hawaii has historically had a shortage of doctors. Even some of these students have felt it.

“There’s just not enough doctors so there’s like a bunch of patients outside,” said De Guzman. “It’s really slow and no one’s really moving.”

MJ Velasquez lives on Maui and travelled to Honolulu for years for treatment.

“It’s very frustrating cuz you can’t just access it and have to go fly over and I feel like it could be just a waste of time for just being there for like 30 minutes and then going back,” said Velasquez.

JABSOM said this program is essential for Hawaii high schoolers, planting the seed for their possible future in the medical field with hopes that some of those seeds will blossom into future doctors here in Hawaii, right in their hometowns.

“I wanna serve the community,” said Josue. “Give back to everybody because Waianae raised me.”

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“I would want to succeed because I’m not only representing my family, I’m representing my community,” said Velasquez. “I wanna give back to them because we have a very unique community and everyone is so loving, caring and we’re a team.”

Anna Harden

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