Increasing the number of Indigenous doctors in Canada. That is the ultimate goal of the UBC Faculty of Medicine. It hosted its 14th annual Aboriginals Pre -Admissions Workshop this week.
This years workshop was held at UNBC. The three-day program provides Indigenous students with the necessary tools to be successful when applying for a UBC MD program.
“We talk about how to prepare your applications, how to prepare to write the MCAT; the MCAT is the Medical College Admissions Test,” says James Andrew, the Aboriginal Student Initiatives Coordinator for the UBC Faculty of Medicine. “About 40% of our enrollment of our Indigenous students in the Medical Program have taken the workshop. I have been told it’s fairly successful.”
10 students registered this year, however 2 were unable to make it because of the wildfires. One of the students who attended is Santanna Hernandez. She is currently living in Trail BC, attending Selkirk College in Castlegar. The mother of four ultimately wants to become a locum physician so that she can provide medical care to remote Indigenous communities. “When I was pregnant with my third child I was living in Fort Nelson, which is very far North and does not have regular maternity services. So when I was 36 weeks I had to go to wait in another town to deliver. Not being home and having those comforts was such a huge event in my life as a mother, and as a human,” says Hernandez. “Seeing that need in some of these communities, I felt if I can go back and mitigate some of those needs in these other communities it would be a great opportunity to give back, and do something I am passionate about.”
For Reinelda Sankey, from Prince Rupert, the workshop has been phenomenal. “I am definitely hoping to get into medical school within the next few years, I am just in the process of completing my undergraduate degree so this is a great time for me to be getting knowledge about the application process and what it is going to be like. This is the campus [UNBC] I want to attend, so seeing the campus and seeing the faculty is great.”
Andrew says less than 1 % of all doctors in Canada are Aboriginal. “If we have about 8,000 or 9,000 doctors in BC, about 50 of those are Indigenous.”
However, he says programs like this are making a difference. “The number of applications have gone up. That being said, we have also reached a milestone where we wanted to graduate 50 Aboriginal doctors by 2020. We actually were able to do that 5 years early. So 2015, we graduated 54 Aboriginal doctors. A lot of our Aboriginal doctors also give back to the program by being role models.”