Dr. John Olkowski
For Dr. John Olkowski, the decision to enter the medical field was always a clear choice. Which field to focus on, though, was a little fuzzy at first.
“When I was in high school back in New Jersey, there was a different doctor who would come in and talk about his different subspecialty. The first one I went to was a gastrointestinologist. He showed us these long tubes and told us what he did with them, and I was like, I don’t wanna do that,” admits Olkowski with a chuckle.
“But the next one I went to was opthalmology, and I thought that was really cool - little microsurgery, lots of fun equipment ... that’s what I want to do.”
Now the medical director of Eyesight Hawaii Vision Institute, Olkowski has been a fellowship-trained corneal surgery specialist in
Hawaii for 15 years, having performed more than 10,000 vision-correction surgeries in the state. And to think, he credits his start to those experiences back in high school.
Which is why for the past five years Olkowski has sponsored the Hawaii Future Physicians Symposium - entirely on his own.
The free event is open to high school students in both private and public schools statewide. It features a panel of physicians - from psychiatrists to pediatricians to the Queen’s Medical Center’s chief of plastic surgery - discussing the joys and challenges of their chosen specialty field of medicine. Olkowski adds that a highlight from past years has been medical students from the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine, who answer questions about the ins and outs of med school and how the industry is ever-evolving.
“I wanted the high school students to get that same advantage. You know, getting a little idea of where they want to go and maybe help them plan their career out a little bit better,” says Olkowski, who lives in Hawaii Kai with his wife, Tina, who practices emergency medicine at Kaiser, their children Kirk, 5, and Erika, 2, and two corgi-terrier mixes, Roxy and Max.
The fifth annual Hawaii Future Physicians Symposium begins at 9 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Queen’s Conference Center, 1301 Punchbowl St. Registration opens at 8:15 a.m.
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