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Dean's Certificate of Distinction (COD) Resources for Medical Students

Compilation of resources to help medical students get started with their own research projects and/or certificates of distinction related to research.

About the Certificate of Distinction in Native Hawaiian Health

The Certificate of Distinction (COD) in Native Hawaiian Health is designed to offer interested medical students an in-depth understanding of Native Hawaiian health and a variety of experiences to further that understanding as well as offer opportunities for the student to contribute to Native Hawaiian wellness from a holistic perspective.

Graduates with the certificate will have demonstrated a commitment to improving Native Hawaiian health through education, community engagement, clinical experiences and research. Training will include cultural grounding and activities will align with the COD in Native Hawaiian Health’s “HALE” model, which includes the Department of Native Hawaiian Health’s (DNHH) pou kihi (cornerposts), representing our vision and mission.


The foundation of our program (requirement A) is the interested student, the koho pololei (the “properly chosen” ones). Students will be selected based on genuine interest in Native Hawaiian health, willingness to fulfill criteria of the certificate, and good academic standing. The four corner posts represent the areas where the students will concentrate their efforts.

Corner post 1 (Requirement B) is Ke Aʻo 'Ōiwi which represents cultural knowledge and cultural space. Students will be expected to undergo basic training in certain aspects of Hawaiian culture. Expectations will include some involvement in Native Hawaiian cultural practices.

Corner post 2 (Requirement C) is Ka Mālama 'Āina which represent environmental and community stewardship. This area of concentration will include service learning (volunteer service in community), involvement with Ka Lama Kukui (Indigenous Medical Student Interest Group), mentoring, and clinical experiences with Native Hawaiian patients.

Corner post 3 (Requirement D) is Ka 'Ai Pono which represents consumption of knowledge and striving for increased knowledge (‘imi na’auao). Requirements in this area include participation in DNHH community health selectives, electives, didactic lectures (JABSOM, UH, community) and scholarly projects (research, educational, etc).

Corner post 4 (Requirement E) is Ka Wai Ola which represents improving health for all in the spirit of social justice. Students will develop an awareness of issues and initiatives that impact the health of Native Hawaiians and all of Hawaiʻi. Activities in this area may include participating in legislative hearings, critical analysis of media accounts of relevant issues, and meeting with grassroots organizations.

The thatched roof of our hale, “Kulia I Ka Nu’u” translates into “strive to reach the summit” representing the culmination of student efforts in helping Native Hawaiians to achieve the highest level of health attainable. The roof is placed once the foundation and corner posts are set and stable. The interwoven thatching reflects the many “hands” that have guided the student in the journey towards the summit; hands belonging to kumu (teachers), ʻohana (family), mentors, colleagues and community members. In this component of the program, students will reflect back on their participation and evaluate the experience and their efforts in the context of advancing Native Hawaiian health.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the Certificate of Distinction in Native Hawaiian Health program, students will have:

  1. Gained a deep knowledge of the holistic nature of Native Hawaiian health.
  2. Developed a deeper understanding of the role of history, social justice, and its impact on Native Hawaiian health disparities.
  3. Achieved familiarity with core Native Hawaiian cultural values and practices.
  4. Incorporated lessons learned into the design and implementation of service and research projects that would further the health of Native Hawaiian patient, communities, and the state of Hawaiʻi.
  5. Committed to implementing lessons learned into their future clinical practices that represent best practices for care of Native Hawaiians.
  6. Engaged in “mālama 'āina” activities to further reinforce an understanding of the holistic concept of Native Hawaiian wellness.
  7. Contributed to social justice through a greater awareness of and participation in advocacy that benefits not only Native Hawaiians, but all of Hawai'i.


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