University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth Welcomes a Record Number Native American Students

The incoming 12 students will bring the number of Native American students enrolled in the medical school to 20.

DULUTH, Minn. – The University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth campus has crossed big a milestone.

The university will welcome a record number of Native American medical students for the upcoming school year.

A total of twelve American Indian students are on the path to becoming physicians for tribal communities.

Classes don’t actually begin until next week.

But these students, who are setting a milestone for the medical school, have already begun the journey of becoming doctors.

That journey started with the decision to give back to their tribal communities, knowing many tribes may not have the same access quality health care.

“There needs to be more education on the health disparities. I had to do a project in my undergrad to look into how drastic the health disparities are,” said first year medical student Brandon Butcher. “It’s actually the life expectancy for native people is five years less than other populations.”

Studies have shown about 50% of Native Americans across the country graduate from high school.

Another 30% go to college, but do not go beyond the undergraduate level.

Studies also show less than one percent of Native Americans become medical doctors.

“We don’t have to have Native Americans serving our communities, but it is advantageous,” said Assistant Professor Mary Owen. “I can’t remember the name of the study, but it just came out that show that people are more likely to choose doctor that looks more like them.”

Owen says while this is a great accomplishment, other universities should take note.

She believes medical schools across the nation should build on their recruiting to help encourage natives to enter medical field.

The University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth has now graduated the second largest number of American Indian physicians in the nation.

Including the 12 incoming students, this brings the university’s total number of Native American medical students to nearly 20.

The university will host a white coat ceremony this Friday from 1–3pm in the Marshall Performing Arts Center.


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