2010 News Stories

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Sekon Wong, MD, and Kahealani Rivera, MDHawai’i has a shortage of cardiologists at a time when demand is expected to grow due to its aging population. A cardiac fellowship program begun this summer through a partnership between the University of Hawai’i at Manoa's John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and The Queen's Medical Center (QMC) will help address the shortage.

The rigorous cardiology fellowship curriculum is designed to develop "outstanding clinical cardiologists" who are competent practitioners capable of managing the health care of adults "using the full range of medical technological advances while maintaining unwavering professional standards, humanism and compassion." Fellows are licensed medical doctors who have completed medical school and post-graduate residency training in internal medicine. The program is Hawaii's first Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-approved cardiology fellowship training program.

The three-year program's goal is to recruit, train, and keep future cardiologists in Hawai‘i, since 80 percent of doctors practice where they trained. "We know from an ongoing workforce study that…Hawai‘i already is short more than 68 cardiologists," said Jerris Hedges, MD, Dean of JABSOM. "Cardiology demand is expected to grow at a greater rate than many other specialties because of our aging citizens. This training opportunity demonstrates the commitment of our academic training partner, The Queen's Medical Center, to improve health care in Hawai’i."

JABSOM will serve as the sponsor of the new Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program and will provide faculty support. Queen's will also provide faculty and serve as the training site. The Program Director is Robert Hong, MD, (Medical Director of Queen's Heart Physician Practice) who also serves as Chief of the Division of Cardiology for JABSOM. Key clinical faculty include Drs. Todd Seto, Ralph Shohet, Chari Hart, Irving Schatz, David Fergusson, Christian Spies (also Assistant Program Director) and Joon Choi. Support from QHS/QMC President Art Ushijima and the QMC Board of Trustees allowed the launch of the effort, which has been six years in the making. Queen's will underwrite the full cost of the startup and ongoing expenses, which are projected to be over $2.3 million over three years. Cathy Young, RN, Vice President of Patient Care, provided considerable administrative support, while Queen's MDs Edward Shen, John Cogan, Joana Magno, and Erlaine Bello joined in the effort to make the fellowship a reality.

The fellowship will accept two fellows per year. This year's fellows are Kahealani Rivera, MD, and Sekon Won, MD. Dr. Rivera earned her Doctor of Medicine at Stanford School of Medicine in California. The Kamehameha Schools valedictorian completed her Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Hawai’i Residency Program and has been chief medical resident at Queen's. Dr. Won earned his Doctor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts. He received his post-doctoral training in Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Center and at Boston Medical Center. Dr. Won has served as a hospitalist in Internal Medicine at Queen's since 2005.

"Governor John A. Burns believed in developing education as a means to improve health care," noted Dr. Hong. "We are trying to take it to the next level. The program is not just about training fellows, but changing the system by integrating education, research, and clinical care."

Photo caption:
Sekon Wong, MD, and Kahealani Rivera, MD, the first two fellows of the new UH/QMC Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program.

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