Hawaii Future Physicians Symposium, founded by John Olkowski, M.D., has been giving high school juniors and seniors a deeper look into the medical field for the past 10 years.
“It was instrumental when I was in high school,” explains Olkowski. “When I was in high school in New Jersey, there was a Future Physicians Club at a local hospital.”
At the first meeting he attended, a gastroenterologist showed students in Olkowski’s group what he did with the tubes.
“I didn’t want to do that,” he says. “But the next meeting was an ophthalmologist … Ever since then I wanted to be an ophthalmologist. It (the symposium) was instrumental in me setting up a pathway to where I wanted to be later in life.”
Olkowski thought the symposium model would be a good fit for Hawaii.
“It’s not often students get to ask doctors about what they do and what they like and don’t like,” explains Olkowski, who started his own practice, Eyesight Hawaii, 15 years ago. “I hope it helps kids see … what they wanted to be when they grow up. Maybe not a specific speciality like me, but thoughts on medicine in general.”
Guest speakers, ranging from physicians to medical students, share their experiences with students.
“Med students talk about pointers and tips about getting into med school, what it’s like being in med school and what they do in the different years,” explains Olkowski.
The free event also features a scholarship opportunity funded by Olkowski. During the symposium break, students are required to write a 100-word essay about a specific topic. Past topics included questions such as: Why do you want to be a physician? The winner, chosen by Olkowski, receives a $500 scholarship.
This year’s symposium took place Nov. 15, and each year Olkowski hosts it at his Dole Cannery office. A tour of Eye Surgery Center of Hawaii also is on the agenda for those who arrive early. Normally, about 70 students attend the symposium, but this year the number was closer to 100.
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