10 Years of Recruiting & Supporting Aboriginal Medical Students

The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine had implemented Aboriginal admissions process in 2001. Five percent of its annual compliment of seats is now targeting qualified Aboriginal applicants. In 2002, two Aboriginal students entered first year. These two students (Class of 2006) were the first to graduate under the Aboriginal admissions process. As of May 2011, the Faculty of Medicine of UBC had graduated 23 Aboriginal physicians. Their specialties include 7 in surgical specialties and 16 in Family Practice. There are currently 35 Aboriginal medical students enrolled in the four year program.

September 2012 will be the program’s 10th anniversary. The vision was to graduate 50 Aboriginal physicians by 2020. According to statistics, the faculty is on track to graduate 50 Aboriginal physicians by 2014. The presentation will include the program’s history/background, successes and its challenges

James Andrew (Associate Director of Aboriginal People’s Health)

In 1996 James completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences at the University of British Columbia. He had just completed his Master’s Degree in Health Sciences through Yooroang Garang’s School of Indigenous Health Studies at the University of Sydney in Australia. Yooroang Garang means a “Strong Place.” Focus of study was on project and program development, and administration in Indigenous Community Health. James is from the Lil’Wat First Nation, and a member of the Mount Currie Band (Mount Currie is located 40 minutes north of Whistler). He works half time for the Division of Aboriginal People’s Health and Admissions in the Faculty of Medicine. Majority of his work focuses on Aboriginal health curriculum and research; and recruitment and retention of Aboriginal medical students. From 1998 to 2001 he was the Coordinator for the Division of Community Liaison (DCL), which is a division under the Institute for Aboriginal Health (IAH) at UBC. It provided him the opportunity to work with Bands, Tribal Councils, health and healing centers, and other post-secondary institutions provincially, nationally and globally.

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