Monday, September 19, 2022
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A $3.5 million grant recently awarded to the OSU Health Sciences Center will fund new programs and strengthen existing ones aimed at recruiting and preparing undergraduate Native American students to enter medical school.
“Less than 0.2% of doctors are Native American in the United States, even fewer in STEM careers. If students can see someone like them in medicine and a path for themselves, they can create a vision for themselves. for the future,” said Kent Smith, Ph.D., associate dean of the American Indian Office of Medicine and Science at OSU-CHS.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Centers of Excellence awarded the grant to develop a Native American Primary Care Center of Excellence. The renewable grant, which will be spread over five years, is administered by Smith and Denna Wheeler, Ph.D., director of research and evaluation at the OSU Center for Rural Health.
The HRSA grant also provides scholarships and resources for medical students, postdoctoral fellows, and Indigenous faculty.
“Ultimately, we want to increase the number of competitive Native American applicants by providing education and resources to students applying for admission to the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine,” Smith said.
The grant will also provide funding for the development of an undergraduate college to medical school pipeline for Native American students called Native Pathways, which uses new and existing programs as hands-on recruitment events that travel to communities. tribal and pre-admission workshops specifically for American Indians. students.
Smith said creating and developing partnerships with Oklahoma’s tribal governments and their health systems is critical to the success of Native American students in medical school, as these tribes provide opportunities for residency, rotation, and externship to students.
“If students can see someone like them in medicine and a path for themselves, they can create a vision for the future.”
– Kent Smith, Associate Dean, Office of American Indian Medicine and Science
“We want to identify students who are committed to giving back to their community. The tribes want their own citizens to return home. That’s what this grant will help us do,” he said. “Trust and communication between doctors and patients is so important, which is why we help tribes develop their own doctors, so to speak, and build the capacity of tribal doctor communities.”
Smith said the grant will also have a positive impact on current Native American medical students who attend OSU-COM.
“We want to step up academic support for struggling medical students and make sure our Indigenous students don’t fall through the cracks. That they have the resources and support they need to be successful at the end of the day,” he said.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute also recently awarded a $2 million training grant called Native American Youth Enjoy Sciences (YES) that aims to increase the representation of Oklahoma Native American students in biomedical research and on the cancer.
The grant was awarded to the partnership of OSU-CHS, the University of Oklahoma and OU Health Sciences Stephenson Cancer Center and Smith is one of the co-directors of the program.
YES Oklahoma will offer a research training strategy in which Native American high school students will participate in hands-on scientific research and professionalization activities, with a particular focus on cancer research.
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