Indigenous Health Initiatives

The Indigenous Health Initiatives (formerly the Aboriginal Healthcare Careers Program) was founded by the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry in 1988 to encourage and assist more Aboriginal students to gain admission and graduate successfully from medicine and dentistry. As of June 2010, 62 Aboriginal physicians have graduated from the Faculty and are contributing to the health care of Canadians. A growing number of those who have completed their training are taking leadership roles in Aboriginal Health in positions in Faculties of Medicine, government and professional organizations across Canada, as well as providing direct health services to Aboriginal communities.

Historical Background

Despite recent advances in the health status of Canada's Aboriginal peoples, significant differences remain. These include shorter life expectancy, higher infant mortality and higher morbidity rates than in the general population. Aboriginal people who need and want access to physicians from their own culture are further disadvantaged. According to the Canadian Medical Association, in 1993, the ratio of Aboriginal physicians in Canada was 1:30,000 compared to the overall ratio of physicians to the general population in Canada which was 1:600.


The Mandate of the Indigenous Health Initiatives is to correct the under-representation of Aboriginal physicians in Canada by encouraging more Aboriginal students to consider careers in medicine and dentistry; to facilitate their admission into the MD Program and other programs within the Faculty; and to provide support services to enable students to graduate successfully. It is the Faculty's belief that Aboriginal students with a commitment to their culture and traditions will serve as role models for Aboriginal youth, become leaders in producing improvements in Aboriginal health standards, and enrich the life of the Faculty as a whole. In order to fulfill this mandate, the Faculty has instituted special status admission to the MD and DDS programs for Aboriginal applicants and a national pro-active recruitment policy.

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