October 8, 2013 — The John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Family Medicine Residency Program celebrated its 20th anniversary October 7-11, coinciding with national “Primary Care Week”. The University of Hawai`i Mānoa (UHM) Family Medicine Residency Program was created in 1994, with its major focus to train doctors who practice in under-represented communities within the Hawaiian islands and the Pacific Basin. In the case of Family Medicine, residency training is a three-year program during which MDs practice medicine under the supervision of experienced faculty, as they acquire the skills needed to become board-certified family medicine doctors. The Family Medicine Residency Program has produced 106 family physicians—70% of whom remain in Hawai`i caring for patients and offering their own practices as teaching sites so that JABSOM medical students can experience front-line clinical care. Many program graduates hold leadership positions in community health centers that serve uninsured, minority patients and/or in academic sites training medical students and residents for this challenging field. The Family Medicine Residency Program enrolls six new resident physicians annually, seeking young doctors committed to improving the health of the people of Hawai`i. In addition, the residency program hosts physicians from Japan who are interested in learning about the United States health care system.
“Our Department of Family Medicine and Community Health has always been a leader in helping nations across the Western Pacific build their health care services, too,” said Dr. Allen “Chip” Hixon, Family Medicine Chair. “We particularly have worked to improve prevention and treatment for breast and cervical cancer in the Western Pacific.” Closer to home, Family Medicine hopes to expand its residency training program to address the shortage of primary care providers statewide and meet the increased health care demands of Hawai`i’s aging population. The Hawai`i Physician Workforce Assessment estimates the state is already short 700 physicians based on the size of its population. Almost one-third of doctors currently treating patients could exit the workforce at any time, because they themselves are of retirement age.
The JABSOM Department of Family Medicine and Community Health marked the residency program’s anniversary 20thby offering a Primary Care and Health Equity Symposium on Wednesday, October 9, at the UH medical school in Kaka`ako. Half-day sessions included “Primary Care: National Trends” at 1:45 p.m. with Dr. Allen “Chip” Hixon, MD; “Role of Family Medicine in Population Health and Health Equity” at 2:00 p.m. with Dr. Neal A. Palafox, MD, MPH; “Cancer Health Disparities in the US Affiliated Pacific Island Populations” at 2:45 p.m. with Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, MD and “Priorities for Health and Well-Being of Native Hawaiians” at 4:00 p.m. with faculty from the JABSOM Department of Native Hawaiian Health.