They are Drowning in Debt, But About to Have the Happiest Day of Their Lives

Class of 2013 White Coat, John A. Burns School of Medicine
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Class of 2013 White Coat, John A. Burns School of Medicine

BY TINA SHELTON for the John A. Burns School of Medicine – Can you owe more than $104,000 in educational debt and still be ecstatic?  Yes, you can!  And you can see it for yourselves this Friday, March 15, 2013 at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), as members of the MD Class of 2013 open the secret envelopes which reveal where they have been accepted into “Residency Training” as newly-minted MDs.

The information inside the envelope is what they’ve worked years for, and opening those envelopes on what is called “MATCH DAY” is a pinnacle moment of an MD’s career.


The “MATCH” is held simultaneously across the country’s time zones, with Hawai`i’s the earliest–starting at 7:00 a.m.  Across the U.S., 31,000 students will compete for approximately 24,000 residency positions.   The National Resident Matching Program coordinates the “MATCH,” pairing students with training programs by computer, and delivering the information that is inside those envelopes.

On average, individual medical students who graduate from JABSOM have $104,586 in educational debt. As a class, the totals can seem staggering. JABSOM’s current MD student debt* is:

  • $2.2 million owed by 48 members of our MD Class of 2015
  • $3.4 million owed by 53 members of our MD Class of 2014
  • $3.9 million owed by 42 members of our MD Class of 2013

Nevertheless, at JABSOM, screams of joy erupt as the envelopes are opened, followed by several minutes of joyful hugging, high-five’s and even tears of joy, as class members learn who’s staying, who’s leaving, and where their training will take them next.

Through the Hawai`i Residency Programs, Inc., JABSOM trains more than 240 MD Residents in 14 specialties, so some of our newest MD graduates will stay here, while other new MDs from the around the world will begin making travel plans to train in the Aloha State once they earn their MDs this May.

On MATCH DAY, you will also learn which fields of study in which our MDs are going to specialize. Typically, more than 60% of our new graduates choose Primary Care medicine.  That’s one of the highest percentages in the country choosing primary care, and it’s welcome news. The ongoing shortage of physicians in Hawai`i is most severe in Primary Care.

Come join us, to cover MATCH DAY 2013, at JABSOM-Kaka`ako (651 Ilalo Street) in the Medical Education Building, Room 315, on Friday, March 15, beginning at 7:00 a.m.

*Class debt totals from the Association of American Medical Colleges, 2012.

Established in 1965 and named for a visionary Hawaii governor, the John A. Burns School of Medicine annually educates more than 400 students. Roughly 90% of the entering MD students at JABSOM are Hawai`i residents, demonstrating our continued emphasis on supporting the educational aspirations of our local citizens. In addition to our 264 MD candidates, we educate students seeking graduate-level degrees in Biomedical Sciences (Cellular and Molecular Biology, Clinical Research, Epidemiology, Developmental and Reproductive Biology and Tropical Medicine), Public Health and Communication Sciences & Disorders. We offer the state’s only degree (BA) in Medical Technology. Our school also makes it possible for another 225 physicians (who already have graduated from medical school) to work at our partner health care sites throughout the State while JABSOM prepares them to become licensed MDs.