Largest class of Aboriginal MDs graduate from UBC

2011 Longhouse Graduation Celebration

Twelve Aboriginal students will graduate with a University of British Columbia medical undergraduate degree (MD) this spring, the largest cohort of Aboriginal students to graduate in the history of the Faculty of Medicine and in the province.

“We are all very proud of these students’ accomplishments,” said Dr. Bruce Fleming, Interim Associate Dean, MD Undergraduate Program, Admissions. “I am very encouraged to see the Faculty of Medicine delivering on its promise to increase the number of Aboriginal students entering and graduating from medicine.”

Since launching the Aboriginal MD Admissions Program in 2001 with input from B.C.’s Aboriginal communities, 35 Aboriginal students have completed their MD training. Currently another 22 are enrolled in the four-year MD program, and the Faculty of Medicine is on track to graduate 50 Aboriginal physicians, in total, by 2014.

“I chose medicine because I love science and enjoy working directly with people. If I can help someone with a problem, it makes me feel great,” said Ryan Lieph, one of eight Aboriginal students to graduate from the 2012 Island Medical Program.

The graduates will now go on to residency training in family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry.

In total, UBC will graduate more than 100 Aboriginal students from its Vancouver campus this year.

The Faculty of Medicine’s Aboriginal pre-admission, admission, and student support initiatives are recognized for the approach that has been adopted at UBC by the other Canadian faculties of medicine. The faculty’s Aboriginal Programs Manager, James Andrew, is Chair of a national committee on the recruitment/retention of Aboriginal medical students, which includes representatives from all 17 Canadian medical faculties.

Through programs like the Institute for Aboriginal Health’s Summer Science Program, Aboriginal high school students are introduced to science and medical career role models, and receive math and science skills and cultural support to succeed in higher education and beyond. Many of these students later participate in the Faculty of Medicine’s Pre-Admission Workshop, where Aboriginal MD students mentor applicants, forging strong relationships and systems of peer support with prospective Aboriginal students interested in health professions careers.

The Aboriginal Admissions Subcommittee includes a number of Aboriginal representatives from communities in the north, the island, the interior and the lower mainland.

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