By Tina Shelton, JABSOM Communications Director
At the University of Hawaiʻi Convocation Ceremony for graduating MDs, Dr. Shane Wo (JABSOM MD 2016) heard his name called as the recipient of the Venu and Vijaya Reddy Award in Pediatrics. It was a moment which likely took him back in time. During his childhood, Wo had what he calls a “relatively minor heart condition,” and he was treated by Dr. Venu Reddy, a pediatric heart specialist.
“I can still remember having ECHOs (echocardiograms) and going to routine follow ups with Dr. Reddy for several years as a kid,” Wo recalled. I know first-hand that he provides both excellent and compassionate care.”
Years later, as a medical student, Wo found himself attending several lectures by Dr. Reddy, which he remembers as “highly educational”.
“It’s incredible to think of how many lives (Dr. Reddy) has touched through patient care or as an educator,” said Wo, “and I was fortunate to benefit from both.”
The Reddy Award was presented to Dr. Wo because he was judged to be an outstanding medical student in the field of pediatrics. He is following that passion as a second-year pediatric resident at the University of Washington (UW). Wo spends most of his time at Seattle Children’s Hospital. But true to the training he received at the University of Hawaiʻi medical school, he also spends a good deal of time treating children from underserved areas in a remote part of the United States.
“I am in the ‘Alaska Track’ at UW Pediatrics,” Dr. Shane Wo explained. “I work four months a year in Alaska with two months in Anchorage and two in Fairbanks.”
Dr. Wo chose that track because of the things he learned about those in need while at JABSOM. “My focus now is on improving access to high quality medical care for children. As part of my training, I routinely see children in the Alaska Native health system that are flown into Anchorage because they do not have the appropriate medical resources closer to their local village.”
Dr. Wo is also part of a team that flies out to rural areas of Alaska for field clinics in locations that do not have pediatricians regularly serving them. “At times it has been very challenging and it pushes me to do more,” said Dr. Wo.
Now for the deja vu moment: It also turns out that Dr. Reddy himself treated patients in Alaska when he was living in the 49th state in the 1960’s.
“Before moving to Hawaiʻi in 1967, we lived briefly in Alaska, where my dad worked in the Department of Public Health,” said Dr. Ravi Reddy (JABSOM MD 1991). “My dad treated a lot of indigent patients there, just as he (Dr. Shane Wo) is doing now as part of his residency training!”
Dr. Wo’s mentors
In addition to his gratitude and admiration for Dr. Reddy, Dr. Wo also singles out Dr. Melinda Ashton and Dr. Marian Melish for inspiring him when he was still in college at the University of California at Berkeley. Specifically, in the summer months when he returned home to Hawaiʻi to take part in the Summer Student Research Program (SSRP) at Hawaiʻi Pacific Health.
“The SSRP program provided me with an amazing mentor, Dr. Ashton, an incredible initial exposure to the medical field and my first significant experience with research. While shadowing various clinicians, I was immediately attracted to the doctor/patient relationships as well as the science behind the various disease processes and treatments,” Wo said.
Along with Dr. Ashton, Wo relied on mentoring and advice from pediatrician Dr. Marian Melish. “It was a pleasant surprise after working with them in the Summer Student Research Program to find that I would continue to see and work with both of them as a medical student at the John A. Burns School of Medicine,” said Wo.
Dr. Wo is one of six MD candidates from JABSOM who matched into Pediatrics training programs from the MD Class of 2016. Three stayed in Honolulu for their post-graduate training, while one each went to California and Massachusetts. With Alaska on his regular duty roster, Dr. Wo is definitely the one who has ventured the farthest north.
About the Venu and Vijaya Reddy Awards and Pediatric Medical Education Endowment
Venu and Vijaya Reddy are both clinical faculty members at the medical school. They established the Reddy Award in Pediatrics for outstanding achievement in Pediatrics by medical students and/or for young medical doctors pursuing their residency training in Pediatrics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine. They also established a fund to support visiting pediatrics lecturers, especially in the field of pediatric cardiology, at the school of medicine.
To contribute to the Reddy fund or to give to JABSOM, contact Elaine Evans, UH Foundation.