More Native Americans will be encouraged and supported in their healthcare careers, thanks to renewed federal funding for a unique program at Oregon Health & Science University.
OHSU’s Northwest Native American Center of Excellence is receiving a total of $3.4 million over five years from the Health Resources & Services Administration, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The funding is a competitive renewal of the initial federal grant that enabled the founding of the center in 2017, and complements other support the program has received in recent years.
“We are committed to breaking down the many barriers that prevent Native Americans like me from becoming doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and more,” said Erik Brodt, MDan Ojibway family physician who is the founding director of the center and also the assistant dean for Native American health at the OHSU School of Medicine.
“Supporting more American Indians and Alaska Natives in their efforts to become health professionals will help provide high-quality, compassionate, and culturally appropriate health care for every American,” Brodt added. .
With this new funding, the center will go beyond its original goal of encouraging Native Americans and Alaska Natives to become doctors. The center’s foundational initiative, the Wy’east Post-Baccalaureate Pathway – a rigorous 10-month program that prepares Indigenous people for medical school – will expand to also include a similar path for the Wy’east School of Dentistry. ‘OHSU. The new dental course is expected to welcome its first promotion of five aspiring dentists in the fall of 2025.
“This bold initiative addresses key health disparities,” said Ronald Sakaguchi, Ph.D., DDS, MBA, dean of the OHSU School of Dentistry. “We are thrilled to partner with the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence and are proud to help create an essential new pathway to dentistry that will benefit American Indians and Alaska Natives in our region and beyond. “
The new grant also allows two other medical schools in the Pacific Northwest to establish their own post-baccalaureate pre-medical pathways for Indigenous students. Students who completed Wy’east were initially offered conditional acceptance into the OHSU School of Medicine, but this was later expanded to also offer some students conditional acceptance into the University of California Davis School of Medicine or Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. Beginning in fall 2024, each medical school will simultaneously operate its own post-baccalaureate pathway. Therefore, each school expects to further increase the total number of Indigenous students enrolling in their respective medical programs.
And, to encourage Indigenous people to consider working as pharmacists, the center will use some of its new funding to run a digital media education campaign focused on pharmacy, advancing Indigenous recruitment for the Doctor of Pharmacy program. of OSU/OHSU and increase the amount of pharmacy information. shared through the center’s Tribal Health Scholars program for high school students, among other efforts.
All of this is in addition to other changes already underway. Separately, other federal funding will allow Wy’east to increase the number of students in each class — from 14 last school year to 22 this fall — with participants selected by the three medical schools. Recent state funding will also allow OHSU to develop a similar pathway for Indigenous nursing students. Brodt and his colleagues also hope to expand Wy’east into pharmacy.
Since the establishment of the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence in 2017, the OHSU School of Medicine has increased its total number of Indigenous medical students by 12e at 5e in the USA. To date, a total of 42 Wy’east students have completed the course and 28 have enrolled in medical school.
The center is a collaboration between the OHSU Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, Northwest Portland Area Indian Board of Health, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at the University of Washington State and University of California Davis Medical School. It is supported by more than $12 million in federal and state funding, private donations, and support from OHSU and other academic institutions.