The Development of an Indigenous Health Curriculum for Medical Students
Indigenous populations experience dramatic health disparities; yet, few medical schools equip students with the skills to address these inequities. At the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus, a project to develop an Indigenous health curriculum began in September 2013. This project used collaborative and decolonizing methods to gather ideas and opinions from multiple stakeholders, including students, community members, faculty, and administration, to guide the process of adding Indigenous health content to the curriculum to prepare students to work effectively with Indigenous populations. A mixed-methods needs assessment was implemented to inform the instructional design of the curriculum. In June 2014, stakeholders were invited to attend a retreat and complete a survey to understand their opinions of what should be included in the curriculum and in what way. Retreat feedback and survey responses indicated that the most important topics to include were cultural humility, Indigenous culture, social/political/economic determinants of health, and successful tribal health interventions. Stakeholders also emphasized that this content should be taught by tribal members, medical school faculty, and faculty in complementary departments (e.g., American Indian Studies, Education, Social Work) in a way that incorporates experiential learning.
Preliminary outcomes include the addition of a seven-hour block of Indigenous content for first-year students taught primarily by Indigenous faculty from several departments. To address the systemic barriers to health and well-being and provider bias that Indigenous patients experience, this project sought to gather data and opinions regarding the training of medical students through a process of Indigenizing research and education.