In 2005, the Faculty of Medicine established the Aboriginal Program to develop awareness of Aboriginal issues and increase the number of Aboriginal students in the medical education program. This is achieved by introducing Aboriginal-specific content and traditional healing methods into the curriculum and through a number of recruitment activities targeted to the Aboriginal community. This includes two “mini-medical school” events that the Faculty of Medicine hosts annually for Aboriginal candidates interested in entering medical school.
It is the goal of our program to produce Aboriginal physicians who will, alongside with their colleagues, become proficient in Aboriginal health care to serve urban, rural and remote First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
Seven seats are reserved per year in the Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) Program for candidates of Aboriginal ancestry. Successful applicants may choose to study in either the English or French language stream.
The Aboriginal Program supports all First Nations, Inuit and Métis students throughout their medical education and clinical training via group social activities, facilitating access to Elders, cultural supports and mentoring, assisting the student-led Aboriginal Health Interest Group, and other activities. These supports are available to all Aboriginal students, whether they have entered the program through the Aboriginal admissions process or not. Students of Aboriginal ancestry who have entered via another stream are welcome to self-identify to the Aboriginal Program.
The Aboriginal Program also serves as a resource and support to all students and faculty members. We ensure that Aboriginal health and social issues, including their historical and social context, are an integral part of the UGME curriculum, starting with a mandatory Aboriginal awareness day for all new students. We engage with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to secure and promote Community Service Learning placements and elective opportunities for all students. This focus ensures that medical students will practice culturally safe care in serving Aboriginal populations.
An advisory group consisting of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Elders, local and regional Aboriginal community members working in the health and education sectors along with two medical student representatives, meets biannually to provide advice, guidance and support to the Aboriginal Program. They also serve as important resources as the Program works to incorporate Aboriginal content and activities into the curriculum.
As of the 2013-14 academic year, 46 Aboriginal students are attending or have graduated from the Faculty of Medicine’s UGME program. It is our hope that these physicians and physicians-in-training become role models and leaders in their respective fields, working to improve the health of Aboriginal patients, families and communities.
“As Director of the Aboriginal Program, I am proud of the Faculty’s efforts in our support of students and our engagement with Aboriginal elders and community partners across Canada. We are making a difference together in bringing our knowledge and experience in Aboriginal health to both Aboriginal and mainstream health care settings.” - Dr. Darlene Kitty, Director, Aboriginal Program.