Native Health Program Recruits from Within

[imgbelt img=NativePathways2_CROP.jpg]Native communities need doctors with the medical and cultural skills to work in Indian Country. “Native Pathways” is recruiting future doctors from the very people the program will serve.


Native Pathways

For the last 20 years, the NCRHP has been recruiting future healthcare professionals from rural areas with the goal of returning graduates to their communities of origin to practice. Now they are expanding the program to target tribal communities.  “There are not enough rural health care professionals that understand the unique culture and dynamics of rural life and this is even truer for Native Americans,” said Michael Glasser, director of the NCRHP.   

Recruiting Native Americans for the program won’t necessarily be easy. “For most Native American students, the hurdle will be getting them to come here in the first place,” Glasser said. “Convincing them to go home again is not an issue.”

Supahan agreed. “I’ve heard local youth say it feels like you need a passport to travel outside Indian Country,” he said.  “It is very difficult to understand and appreciate the challenges inherent in living in such an isolated area. The sheer size and distances between different tribal communities. The hours-long drive to the airport.  Those feelings of isolation make it much less likely that tribal students will consider an education elsewhere.”

“Rural Times 10”

“This place is rural times 10,” said Goodwin of her home in Northern California.  “Some people here have no running water and still get their electricity from a generator or pelton wheel,” a type of water wheel.

Goodwin grew up in Somes Bar (population 300), located in the heart of Indian Country. The Karuk consider the village of Katimiin, near Somes Bar, the Center of the World and Goodwin’s father is a ceremonial leader. She speaks a little of the tribal language and was raised on the river eating freshly caught salmon and acorns gathered from the nearby oaks.