Med school dean's legacy spreads across the Pacific
AS A RESIDENT of Micronesia and Hawaii, I congratulate all the honored recipients of the Living Treasures of Hawaii award ("Keepers of culture named," Star-Bulletin, Jan. 13
). As a graduate and faculty member of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, I was particularly pleased to see former JABSOM Dean Terence A. Rogers, Ph.D., so honored. Rogers' impact on educating Pacific islanders is spread far wider than the excellent JABSOM Imi Hoola program mentioned in your article. Through his efforts, scores of Micronesian and American Samoan students have become physicians and are the backbone of health care services in the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae states), the Republic of the Marshall Islands and American Samoa.
This was Rogers' other mission at JABSOM: to upgrade health care services by training the physician work force among the isolated islands of the former U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
In Palau, where I work, 17 of the 18 Palauan physicians were trained at JABSOM programs either at the Manoa campus or at the Pacific Basin Medical Officers Training Program in Pohnpei state, FSM. The PBMOTP was an emergency physician training program conducted from 1986 to 1996 to re-establish the indigenous physician work force in Micronesia. JABSOM graduates in Palau include the current minister of health and the directors of the Bureau of Public Health and the Bureau of Hospital and Clinical Services. Other JABSOM graduates are in prominent positions throughout the Pacific islands.
Rogers' legacy also has influenced other JABSOM training programs in the Pacific, which include the Hawaii/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center, which is now coordinating in-country public health training for 300 physicians, nurses, environmental health workers, health administrators and nutrition workers in the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, which spread across four time zones of Pacific expanse. In a May 2006 graduation, the Palau Area Health Education Center, part of JABSOM Hawaii/Pacific Basin AHEC, presented the Dean Terence A. Rogers Excellence in Public Health Award to one of its postgraduate recipients, a 1992 PBMOTP physician graduate. When she came to the stage at Palau Community College to receive her award, I told her that she was the kind of physician that Rogers was thinking of when he established JABSOM's medical officer training program.
At the last PBMOTP graduation in Pohnpei state in 1996, keynote speaker Rogers reminded the graduating physicians from Micronesia and American Samoa of the importance of "the quiet satisfaction of a job well done." Over the years, Rogers has so positively influenced many of us in the Pacific. His being named a Living Treasure of Hawaii only strengthens our admiration for his job well done.
Gregory J. Dever, M.D., is director of the Bureau of Hospital & Clinical Services, Ministry of Health, in the Republic of Palau, and a clinical professor of pediatrics at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.