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January 9, 2012

U of A Encourages More Aboriginal Students to Choose Medicine

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From The Vancouver Sun; Written by Chris Zdeb.

The University of Alberta has the oldest aboriginal medical program in Canada dating back to 1988 and has graduated the most aboriginal doctors of any such university program in the country — 73 as of June 2011.

Dr. Jill Konkin isn’t bragging, not yet.

“There is a screaming need for physicians for aboriginal communities and I would suggest that we aren’t doing our job until we have enough physicians, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, to meet that need,” says the associate dean of community engagement, responsible for indigenous, inner city, global and rural health.

In 2007, there were 200 self-declared aboriginal doctors in Canada when 1,500 to 2,000 would be representative of the aboriginal population.

Virtually every medical school in the country has initiatives targeting aboriginal students because aboriginal physicians are much more likely to move to communities with underserviced aboriginal populations and/or underserviced aboriginal populations in larger communities, than non-aboriginal physicians, Konkin says.

“We also know that our medical school classes are much too monolithic, in particular in a socio and economic diversity way of looking at the world.”

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