Recruiting American Indian/Alaska Native Students to Medical School: A Multi-Institutional Alliance in the U.S. Southwest

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Abstract

Problem

Despite national efforts to diversify the physician workforce, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) individuals have the least representation of all major racial and ethnic groups. Limited resources at state medical schools present institution-level recruitment challenges. Unified efforts to engage AI/AN students in premedical education activities are needed.

Approach

The medical schools at the Universities of Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson), Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah identified a collective need to increase student diversity, particularly with regard to AI/AN students. The schools partnered with the Association of American Indian Physicians to support AI/AN students applying to medical school and to grow the overall AI/AN applicant pool. Each year from 2011 to 2016, these institutions hosted a two-day preadmissions workshop (PAW) to prepare participants for applying to medical school.

Outcomes

From 2011 to 2016, 130 AI/AN students participated in the PAWs. Of these, 113 were first-time attendees, 15 participated on two separate occasions, and 1 participated on three separate occasions. Nineteen (21%) of the 90 first-time participants from 2011 to 2015 matriculated to a U.S. medical school in the past five years. Twenty-two of 23 participants (96% response rate) in 2016 responded to the postworkshop survey. Results indicated that interview preparation, individual consultation, and writing preparation ranked as the three most beneficial sessions/activities.

Next Steps

Standardized evaluation of future PAWs will identify best practices for recruiting AI/AN students to medical school, and future initiatives will include more robust measures of success.

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