McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster addressing health of Aboriginal Peoples, enrolment in medical school

By Suzanne Morrison
Published: December 1, 2008
Alan Neville
Dr. Alan Neville, assistant dean of the undergraduate medical program in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

Canada needs almost 2,000 Aboriginal doctors to care for the health of Aboriginal Peoples. Today, there are a mere 200.

To reverse this trend, Canada’s 17 medical schools have been working for more than three years to discover innovative ways that will increase the number of Aboriginal medical graduates in Canada and address Aboriginal health issues.

On December 1, 2008, the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC) and the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) will launch four key documents in Montreal at the Delta Centre-Ville Hotel. These documents deal with curriculum, admissions and support programs, recruitment of mature Aboriginal students and a pre-admissions support toolkit for First Nations, Inuit, Métis students wanting to enter medicine. The documents can be found on the IPAC and AFMC web sites.

Dr. Alan Neville, assistant dean of the undergraduate medical program in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, serves on a committee which includes representatives from all 17 medical faculties in Canada, as well as community representatives. The committee’s work is expected to lead to increased numbers of culturally competent physicians in Canada and a medical school curriculum which will bridge Western medicine and Aboriginal culture.

"In 2004, the AFMC, as part of its Social Accountability agenda, committed to helping improve the health of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples by increasing access to medical school for Aboriginal applicants as well as educating all Canadian medical students about Aboriginal health issues. In order to achieve these goals, the AFMC partnered with IPAC. It is important to note that all Canadian medical schools agreed to support this project", said Dr. Neville.

Dr. Marcia Anderson, president of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada, said continuing health disparities between First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and the general Canadian population are due to the vast under-representation of Aboriginal people in the health professions, including medicine, along with the inter-generational impacts of colonization, residential schools, treaties, land claims and ongoing systemic socio-economic disadvantage.

"Increasing the size of the Indigenous medical workforce and training all of Canada’s physicians to provide the highest quality care to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples are two key responses to these disparities that are within the medical schools capacity and social responsibility," said Dr. Anderson.

Dr. Nick Busing, president and CEO of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, said there will be "a direct impact on our faculties, medical workforce and ultimately on the health and prosperity of Indigenous peoples in Canada" because of the work of IPAC and AFMC members.


Links

Aboriginal Students Health Sciences Office

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