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Reshaping the Journey: American Indians and Alaska Natives in Medicine

Year Published: 2018
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Reshaping the Journey: American Indians and Alaska Natives in Medicine


This report provides an overview of the current representation of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI-AN) in medicine; makes the case for increasing AI-AN representation in the health professions by highlighting the value of diversity in education and training, workforce needs, and health disparities; and showcases institutional profiles of medical schools that have successfully graduated Native physicians.

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Reshaping the Journey: American Indians and Alaska Natives in Medicine
Year Published: 2018
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Designed for academic medical leaders involved with developing strategies and programs to promote workforce diversity and inclusive education and training environments.



While significant efforts have been made to increase the diversity of the physician workforce, American Indians and Alaska Natives have experienced minimal gains in their representation across the medical education continuum. This report summarizes effective, promising practices and programs at many of the nation’s medical schools that have contributed to the development of Native physicians and allies who are trained to address the health care needs of AI-AN communities. Recommended strategies include:

  • Culturally responsive academic enrichment programs, access to information, connection with mentors, and availability of financial support can influence the number of AI-AN students preparing to apply to and enroll in medical school.
  • Admissions processes should incorporate holistic review, include AI-AN committee members, and consider targeted recruitment of tribally enrolled members.
  • Academic health centers can significantly improve the inclusion of AI-AN in medicine by ensuring the representation of AI/AN health content in educational curricula and residency training.
  • Strategies such as pipeline/pathway programs funded by institutions and federal programs like the Health Career Opportunity Programs and the Centers of Excellence effectively engage local communities, integrate cultural practices, and provide mentorship opportunities for AI-AN students and faculty.
  • Provide students interested in health professions with culturally appropriate resources and prepare medical school leaders and staff to deliver effective outreach and community engagement efforts.



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Year Published: 2018