Northern Medical Program Succeeds in Attracting Aboriginal Students

by NationTalk on April 8, 2007874 Views

April 5, 2007

The Northern Medical Program is succeeding in attracting aboriginal students to medicine, a vital element in ensuring that the NMP is relevant to rural and northern communities. In the NMP’s first three years, it has attracted 6 aboriginal students, representing 8% of the total number of students in the Northern Medical Program.

In Canada, aboriginal people make up less than 5% of the student population in medical schools.

“Just as NMP students who come from rural communities contribute a distinctive perspective to their studies, our aboriginal students offer their unique perspectives and experiences,” says David Snadden, Vice Provost Medicine at UNBC and Associate Dean for the Northern Medical Program at UBC. “We are proud of their commitment to their studies and to their communities.”The aboriginal NMP students are listed here:

Jennifer Douse, a Metis student from Fort Nelson
“Being a physician has been a lifelong dream for me. Medicine is exciting and challenging and I really enjoy the aspect of caregiving for others. The NMP is a great experience – I love the North and I’m glad that I get to train to be a doctor here.”

Sharona Supernault, a Cree-Metis student from Dawson Creek
“Aboriginal people are greatly under-represented in the medical field. I am proud to be the first person in my family to pursue a medical degree. I completed my First Nations Studies degree at UNBC, therefore being back in Prince George feels like home. I love the small class size and the support we have received being in the Northern Medical Program. Being in a smaller hospital with enthusiastic preceptors, we are given wonderful teaching opportunities that other students may not receive until later in their training.”

Ben Matthew, a member of the Simpcw First Nation from a small reserve north of Barriere called Chu Chua

Peter Eppinga, a Haida student from Masset on the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii)
“I have wanted to be a phsyician since I was five years old. I love to help people. I am concerned about their life and the quality of it. Being a physician makes a big difference in peoples lives. Finally I love the human body and the science of it! I am on the board of directors for the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada, and wish to influence Aboriginal health on a national level. Being in the north in the Northern medical program helps me to better understand Aboriginal health issues in the north and it will prepare me when I practice in my home town Masset.”

Taylor Riutta, of Abenaki ancestry from Odanak, Quebec, most recently living in Sudbury
“I applied to the NMP for the smaller class sizes and the opportunities to study in rural areas. My experiences here have been phenomenal and I would choose the NMP again in a heartbeat.”

Lorraine MacDonald, an Anishinabek (Ojibway) student from the Sheshegwaning First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Ontario

Based at UNBC’s Prince George campus, the Northern Medical Program is part of the expanded UBC Faculty of Medicine, which also includes sites in Vancouver and Victoria. The Northern Medical Program accepted its first students in 2004. Admission to the Northern Medical Program is through the UBC Faculty of Medicine, which offers assistance to aboriginal applicants. After they are admitted to the Faculty, students select the site they prefer to attend.

Throughout all of its programming, UNBC has a particular focus on aboriginal issues and making courses accessible to aboriginal people. About 10% of the University’s student body is aboriginal; the average among BC universities is 2.1%.

David Snadden, Associate Provost – Medicine at UNBC and Associate Vice-President for the Northern Medical Program at UBC – 250.960.6731
Rob van Adrichem, Director of Media and Public Relations, UNBC – 250.960.5622

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