Scholarship Fund to Help Physician Shortage

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MD scholarship students including those HPH sponsored in 2018. PC: Courtesy photo: UH Mānoa.

In an effort to continue to address Hawai‘i’s growing physician shortage, one of the state’s largest healthcare providers announced the launch of the Hawai‘i Pacific Health (HPH) Medical Student Scholarship Fund. The announcement was made jointly on April, 25, 2019, by Raymond P. Vara, president and chief executive officer of Hawai‘i Pacific Health and Jerris Hedges, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM).

This nearly $750,000 commitment to fund the tuition for five incoming JABSOM freshmen follows Hawai‘i Pacific Health’s $750,000 commitment last year to fund five incoming JABSOM freshmen as part of a collaborative scholarship program that included local philanthropists Virginia and Barry Weinman and other community donors.

All total so far, HPH has contributed $1.5 million to fund the tuition for 10 future Hawai‘i physicians.

Ray Vara, CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health. PC: Courtesy photo: UH Mānoa.


“When JABSOM medical students graduate, their average educational debt is $169,000,” Vara said. “This debt represents a barrier to practicing medicine in Hawai‘i, where physician reimbursement is lower than many parts of the nation and practice expenses and the cost of living are higher. Indeed, through these partnerships supporting the medical education of our students, we can keep more of our best and brightest students at home while serving a real community need. Hawai‘i’s physician shortage is very real and only though the mutual collaboration and teamwork of our partners can we truly create a healthier Hawai‘i.”

Dean Hedges noted that “Hawai‘i students, who represent nearly 90% of the entering medical school class at JABSOM, represent the best means of addressing our physician workforce shortage. Allowing these students to graduate with minimal debt will enhance the retention of these students as practitioners in Hawai‘i and encourage their selection of clinical practice on Neighbor Islands.”

Primary criteria for the HPH Medical Student Scholarship Program:

  • Full-time medical students pursing an MD degree at JABSOM and a commitment to practice medicine in Hawai‘i
  • Meets Hawai‘i resident requirements
  • Exhibits strong merit as part of the JABSOM application process.

Additionally, preference will be given to qualified candidates who have participated in the Hawai‘i Pacific Health Summer Student Research Program. The incoming JABSOM class of 2023 begins its orientation on July 15, 2019.

About Hawai‘i Pacific Health

Hawai‘i Pacific Health is a not-for-profit health care system with over 70 locations statewide including medical centers, clinics, physicians and other caregivers serving Hawai‘i and the Pacific Region with high quality, compassionate care. Its four medical centers—Kapi‘olani, Pali Momi, Straub and Wilcox—specialize in innovative programs in women’s health, pediatric care, cardiovascular services, cancer care, bone and joint services and more. Hawai‘i Pacific Health is recognized nationally for its excellence in patient care and the use of electronic health records to improve quality and patient safety. Learn more at online.



The John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa honors its unique research environment to excel in science-based efforts to eliminate diseases that disproportionately affect people in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region. Annually at JABSOM, more than 500 future physicians are learning medicine, JABSOM researchers secure up to $60 million in grants, and overall economic stimulus to Hawaiʻi from the school tops $456 million annually. JABSOM also confers degrees in Clinical Translational Research, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Tropical Medicine, Cell and Molecular Biology, Medical Technology and Developmental and Reproductive Biology. Learn more online.

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