Hawaii Pacific Health is proud to help launch a matching gift initiative by dedicated philanthropists Barry and Virginia Weinman to fund full scholarships for Hawaii residents starting their medical education at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) this July. Thanks to Hawaii Pacific Health's contribution, the tireless efforts of the Weinmans and JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges, as well as additional support from The Queen's Health Systems, more than $3.66 million has been committed to fund 23 full scholarships for JABSOM's incoming Class of 2022.
In a public challenge to other potential donors, the Weinmans have also pledged to match $168,000 for additional JABSOM scholarships.
Mindful of a recent national survey that mentioned the economic challenges of becoming a doctor in Hawaii, Hedges said, “These 23 future doctors will be free from worry over the expense of a medical education while they study. They will be able to graduate nearly debt free and then choose their medical specialty based on their passion to serve, not financial constraints.” Hedges continued, “We are tremendously grateful to Barry and Virginia Weinman, and our partners at Hawaii Pacific Health and The Queen’s Health Systems for their multifaceted partnership over the years, and their investments in our collective future.”
Experience with full-tuition scholarships began with the Barry and Virginia Weinman Fellowship in 2006 with a $1 million gift that funded 10 JABSOM students’ education in the ensuing decade.
Given the positive results of this earlier gift and discussions with Hedges, Hawaii Pacific Health President & CEO Ray Vara committed to five full-tuition, 4-year scholarships for incoming JABSOM medical students who are Hawaii residents. Barry and Virginia Weinman agreed to match this HPH commitment and encouraged similar community commitments.
“Our mission is to create a healthier Hawaii. That commitment includes not only providing high quality health care, but also forming strong community partnerships that invest in the future of our industry to help accomplish our mission,” said Vara. “We’d like to extend a sincere thanks to the Weinmans for not only envisioning the scholarship program, but for continuing to support the education of Hawaii’s future physicians.”
The Queen's Health Systems also joined the effort and helped to fund 6.75 full-tuition, 4-year medical student scholarships, which were also matched by the Weinmans.
The mean medical school educational debt of a University of Hawaii JABSOM medical student upon graduation is $169,000. Some owe much more, from financing both their college undergraduate education and medical school. UH medical students also come from families of lesser financial means than those at most U.S mainland medical schools.
"Hawaii tends to lose talented medical student applicants to mainland colleges, where they often get full scholarships. While on the mainland, they may find spouses, have kids and may not be able to afford to return to Hawaii," said Barry and Virginia Weinman. "Hopefully, these scholarships will enable these students to study at JABSOM and practice here in Hawaii. We provided scholarships to 10 students about a decade ago; many of these students have returned to practice here and raise their families in Hawaii. We enjoy hearing their stories - one married a mainland doctor and brought his spouse back to practice here.
With so many of Hawaii’s doctors retiring in the next 5 years and the cost of a medical education rising annually, Hawaii’s wellbeing will remain precarious unless more doctors can afford to be educated and then practice here. Hopefully, these scholarships will impact Hawaii’s wellbeing."