Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

University of Alberta Wants More Aboriginal Medical Students

James Van Camp

University of Alberta medical student James Van Camp. Photograph by: John Lucas, John Lucas/Edmonton Journal

Dr. Jill Konkin has seen her school graduate more aboriginal doctors than any other institution in Canada; but she says they need to do more.

“There is a screaming need for physicians for aboriginal communities,” Konkin told Chris Zdeb of Edmontonjournal.Com.

“I would suggest that we aren’t doing our job until we have enough physicians, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, to meet that need.”

Konkin is the associate dean of community engagement, responsible for indigenous, inner city, global and rural health at the University of Alberta. The school has graduated 73 (as of June 2011) aboriginal doctors, since 1988.

Medical schools face a unique challenge in attracting aboriginal youth to their programs. Canadian aboriginal youths have a much lower high school graduation rate compared to their classmates.

“If you don’t graduate from high school, you don’t go to university, and if you don’t go to university, then there’s no way you’re going to get into medical school,” Konkin explains.

“Part of what we’re doing is realizing that it’s our responsibility to help increase the number of aboriginal applicants … so some of our programs now are much more aimed to high school and public school students and communities.”

Schools mentioned: University of Alberta

Ryan Leclaire
Author: Ryan Leclaire
Ryan has been writing for 7 years and has been featured in Chatelaine, Canadian Living and Cottage life.
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