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College of Medicine wants to expand health care opportunities for Native Americans

In its ongoing quest to create greater diversity in the health care field, Penn State College of Medicine is seeking connections with Native American medical students.

The College of Medicine’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is in discussions with a college that has a large number of Native American students, to create a pipeline for admitting those students to the medical school. The College of Medicine has similar programs with historically black colleges and universities that has resulted in an increase in Black/African American medical student applicants.

“It is important to grow the number of Native American doctors to improve the quality of health care in Native American communities and combat the health disparities they face,” said Lynette Chappell-Williams, JD, vice president and chief diversity officer of Penn State Health and associate dean of diversity and inclusion at Penn State College of Medicine. “We also know our effort will create increased inclusion at the medical school.”

Chappell-Williams noted these discussions are happening in November, which is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Only 0.4% of U.S. physicians and .03% of certified physicians assistants are Native American or Native Alaskan, she added.

A session focusing on Native American and indigenous populations is scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Sign up for the virtual program here.

The College of Medicine also is advancing awareness of research related to Native American and indigenous populations through a new program called Research on Race and Ethnicity-Based Disparities: RRED Talks. The goal of this program is to create connections between Penn State College of Medicine faculty, staff, trainees, students and our community members and educational partners with an interest in addressing race/ethnicity-related health disparities to further advance this critical work.

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