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UH medical students meet leaders of Kauaʻi health care community

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Students in the second cohort of a program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine committed to helping the physician shortage and improve the health and wellness of Kauaʻi’s families recently met with island health care leaders.

The second cohort of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Kauaʻi Medical Training Track. (Courtesy of University of Hawaiʻi)

The students, part of Kauaʻi Medical Training Track program, kicked off their first year Aug. 18 during an event at The Plantation House by Gaylords. The program was launched in 2022 and is funded by a $10 million commitment from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan.

The event was also an opportunity for the six medical students to hear from a member of the inaugural cohort, which is starting its second year. The second cohort’s students are Nicole Hada, Zackary Kon, Nikki Ooka, Kennedy-Kain Tamashiro, Darcy Tokunaga and Heather Zimmerman.

Six students with ties to Kaua‘i or another neighbor island and/or a strong interest in rural health are accepted into the program each year. The program funds tuition and fees for all four years, as well as transportation and lodging.


Dylan Lawton of the inaugural cohort, a second-year medical student who has family on Kauaʻi, told this year’s cohort that he was able to shadow two physicians, cardiologist Dr. John Funai and family medicine practitioner Dr. Eugene Lao during his three months on Kauaʻi last spring.

“Through my observations of these great physicians, I not only observed their compassion and their care for residents, I was also able to talk story with a lot of residents and really enjoyed learning about their livelihoods, their families and their hobbies,” said Lawton. “I was also able to connect with them through my own Kauaʻi ʻohana and found that it’s such a small island that everyone knows everyone.”


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