WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A record number 64 medical students were donned with white coats and stethoscopes during a welcoming ceremony at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It's the UH School Medicines Class of 2014.
"You just feel this sense of responsibility and duty, and you realize how much of an honor it is to be in medical school and at the same time you feel motivated to help the community and give it your all, " said Fernando Liquido, a UH Medical student.
"This is the beginning of a lot of things, it's really overwhelming and exciting to have all our friends and family here supporting us, " said Ku'ulei Miles, a UH Medical student.
It's an elite group of future doctors. The 64 students were selected from a pool of 1600 applicants. Ninety percent of the students are homegrown, Hawaii residents.
"They are very talented people and they could go anywhere they wanted to across the country if they had the money, but they chose this school and they are going to be great doctors, " said Jim Burns. President, Friends of UH Medical School.
Right now there is a big demand for doctors in Hawaii. The state is facing a shortage of at least 600 physicians, based on the population. That shortage could double or triple in the next ten years, as many of Hawaii's doctors are close to retirement age.
"We are very much aware that 40 % percent now in practice are 55 or older. We need to teach more students and get more doctors practicing not only on Oahu but in the neighboring isles as well, " said Dr. Jerris Hedges, Dean of UH School of Medicine.
Ku'ulei Miles was born and raised on the Big Island. Miles goal is to become an OB-GYN, and like most of the students, she wants to remain in Hawaii and give back to the community.
"The Big Island is an area of need, so I hope a lot of us, including myself return there and practice over there," said Miles.
Normally the university accepts 62 medical students, but that number was increased because of the shortage of doctors. This incoming class begins classes next week.
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