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Aloha, Dr. Elizabeth Tam: UHP Says Mahalo to One of our Brightest Stars

By Marybeth Kotrodimos
Featured photo by Vina Cristobal

We want to wish Dr. Elizabeth Tam a happy and fulfilling retirement, as she moves on from her role as the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Department of Medicine Chair at the beginning of this month.

Dr. Tam’s bright presence and uplifting personality will be greatly missed by those of us at University Health Partners (UHP) and JABSOM who have had the pleasure to work with her and learn from her.  Her generous spirit lives on in the wisdom she has passed on to the medical students and residents she guided, and in the good health of the many patients who benefitted from her care and instruction.

Dr. Tam, who is part Native Hawaiian, was born and raised on Oahu.  She attended medical school at UC San Francisco, and completed her internship and residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School and fellowships in Pulmonary Diseases at UC San Francisco and in Respiratory Training in Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel and West Roxbury Veterans Administration, before returning to Hawaii and taking a position at JABSOM.

A member of JABSOM’s faculty since 1992, Dr. Tam has been serving as Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine as well as the American Lung Association of Hawaii and Leahi Fund Endowed Chair in Respiratory Health at JABSOM.  She has been Chair of Medicine for over 15 years. She was the 2016 recipient of the Breathe Easy Champion Mauli Ola (Breathe of Life) award from the American Lung Association of Hawaii, and a Board member of ‘Ahahui o na Kauka, Association of Native Hawaiian Physicians.  She continued to actively teach and mentor pre-medical and medical students throughout her years at JABSOM. Dr. Tam is double-boarded (Internal Med and Pulmonary Medicine) and is recognized as a caring mentor who has contributed much to undergraduate medical education as well as JABSOM’s residency program.  She has also generously given her time to serving the community at large. A vivacious and articulate speaker, Dr. Tam has been frequently called upon by the media to offer her considerable expertise to efforts to educate the public.

As a featured speaker at the JABSOM Women in Medicine Speakers Forum in October of 2020, Dr. Tam concluded her talk by saying, “My philosophy in all this is, as a mom, a teacher, and a physician, you get so that people don’t need you anymore. You push for this independence and empower them. That’s my goal. That’s generally how I’ve operated.”

For all that she has given, and all whom she has helped, inspired and empowered, we say Mahalo Nui Loa, Dr. Tam!  We will miss you!

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