What They’re Watching: Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, PhD, UH John A. Burns School of Medicine


Eli Kirshbaum


Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, chair of Native Hawaiian Health at the University of Hawaii Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, told us that a key goal of his is increasing the ethnic diversity of Hawaii’s medical workforce. During our 2023 Hawaii State of Reform conference in January, Kaholokula told us that Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders represent around a quarter of the state’s population, he said, but that is not reflected in the makeup of its healthcare workforce.

“Our goal is eventually parity. So if 25% of the state’s population is Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, at the very least, 25% of every incoming class every year into our medical school should be Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.”

Through his role at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, Kaholokula is working to diversify the workforce through various targeted programs. In particular, he wants to see more diversity in the health science sector, “so more people from these communities are becoming scientists and asking those innovative, unique questions that can only come from people who understand those life experiences.”