Third-year student Laura MacKinnon developed a good grasp of First Nations health growing up in the Northwest Territories. As part of her studies with the SMP, she saw a chance to create a partnership with a local First Nations organization and raise awareness amongst her fellow classmates.
Partnering with representatives from the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and Interior Health Authority (IHA), MacKinnon initiated a self-directed learning project as part of the MD Undergraduate Program’s Doctor, Patient, and Society (DPAS) course, which exposes medical students to critical health care issues. MacKinnon developed and hosted a series of interactive workshops for first and second year students in collaboration with her project partners Dewayne Robinson, Addictions Counselor and Wayne Jack, Aboriginal Community Navigator from the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and Jayne Taylor, IHA Aboriginal Patient Navigator.
The workshops focused on cultural sensitivity, traditional healing practices, and the spiritual beliefs surrounding death for First Nations people. “It was an opportunity to share some teaching and culture with the students,” says Jack. “Being able to help them understand what First Nations patients face in the hospitals and doctors’ offices is very helpful.”
“The students were very intuitive,” says Robinson. “It’s good to see the changes wanting to be made by the younger generations to address First Nations health.”
Feedback from both the students and partners was very positive. The model will be further evaluated for potential rollout to the other regional programs of UBC’s distributed MD Undergraduate Program. “This project identified an earnest desire from current medical students to learn more about aboriginal health and traditional approaches to medicine,” says MacKinnon. “I’m really excited about where this journey will go, and the future implication it may have on our aboriginal health education.”