Leadership in aboriginal health
The University of Ottawa marks a significant milestone at the Faculty of Medicine’s 2009 spring convocation when the first graduates of the faculty’s innovative Aboriginal Program receive their medical degrees.
The seven graduates were the first students admitted to the program, which aims to graduate 100 new Aboriginal physicians by 2020 to address gaps in medical services and improve health outcomes in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Canada.
By combining traditional activities such as powwows, healing ceremonies and elder mentoring with medical electives at First Nations’ reservations, the program prepares graduating doctors to deliver holistic health care to on-reserve and urban Aboriginal populations.
“It’s great to be a part of this pioneering initiative,” says graduate Floyd Wood, whose interest in Aboriginal health was sparked by his Mi’kmaq grandmother in his native Newfoundland.
Wood, who begins a residency in orthopedic surgery in July, says students are encouraged to develop Aboriginal programming that complements their medical studies. He played his part by co-founding the Medical Diversity Awareness Group to foster discussion of serious Aboriginal health issues such as disparity in health care, violence against women and rising HIV/AIDS infection rates.
Fellow graduate David Brault, a Sudbury, Ontario native of Métis descent who helped found the Aboriginal Medical Students Association, says the program’s commitment to Aboriginal health issues ─ along with the Faculty of Medicine’s bilingual learning atmosphere and dynamic, lab-top based e-curriculum ─ make the University of Ottawa an excellent choice for Aboriginal medical students.
“It has been a great experience,” says Brault, whose goal is to run his own family medicine practice. He begins a residency in family medicine at Ottawa’s French-language Montfort Hospital this summer.
By Greg Higgins
Published: June 2009