Cultivating the Next Generation of Native American Health Professionals

Photograph of a woman wearing scrubs, listening to a girl's heart with a stethoscope.

With only 2,400 practicing physicians in the United States, Native Americans are among the least-represented minorities in the health care field. Several initiatives are trying to change that. They’re good projects to know about if you work with a Native American young person who’s interested in learning more about a career in health care.

The Patty Iron Cloud National Native American Youth Initiative brings together dozens of Native American and Alaska Native high school students each June in Washington, D.C., to learn about careers in medicine. For nine days, these students discover what life is like in the health care field from federal, private and nonprofit health workers; they find out about applying for federal student aid; and they learn ways to handle college and job interviews. For more information, contact Lucinda Myers, director of health careers student programs for the Association of American Indian Physicians.

Similarly, Indians Into Medicine, or INMED, a grant program of the federal Indian Health Service, is aimed at getting more tribal youth into medical school and on to careers in health care. Staff visit tribal communities across Indian Country and talk to students about possible health care careers, college preparation, tutoring and student advising services.

One INMED program, run by the University of North Dakota, travels throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana. The other, run by the University of New Mexico’s Center for Native American Health, visits students in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. To learn more, contact the INMED program nearest you.

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