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UofA Indigenous Student Admissions Thoughts

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Link to the article released by the UofA: https://www.ualberta.ca/medicine/news/2018/november/indigenous-students-top-priority-in-university-of-alberta-medical-school?fbclid=IwAR1cv8ZiVhYqiG_tdWfcIcwrEJa8WMCLKYyuBgVPN91OFUR6KlztfHIRcFE 

I'm not too familiar with the MD admissions process but I'm curious to hear what other people have to say about the changes they're looking to implement 

 

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I think it's awesome :)  It'll hopefully encourage more Indigenous applicants, and I think it's a step in the right direction to have the makeup of physicians be more representative of the Canadian population.  They still have to meet the same cutoffs, which I think is good for assessing their ability to succeed in medical school.  Perhaps other schools will follow suit! 

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People get butthurt about this type of stuff, but honest to god it is the right thing. I have done some work in rural Indigenous communities and one thing that I found to be striking (but concurrently made perfect sense) was that often times Indigenous people want nothing to do with the white man (and by white man, I pretty much mean anyone non-Indigenous). Indigenous people need physicians who truly understand them, and frankly, white people are just too epistemically disadvantaged in that regard. 

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Dalhousie does the same thing and has for a while. All Indigenous Maritime, and African-Nova Scotian applicants are offered a seat provided they meet the minimum cutoffs in each area. I also agree that it’s absolutely the right thing to do and is needed. And it shouldn’t be thought of as “token seats” in any way imo.

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Based on the article, it seems that any indigenous applicant who meets minimum admission requirements (and does not bomb their interview) will get an acceptance. Is it fair? No, in my opinion its not fair for the other applicants. However, I think this measure is absolutely necessary for the betterment of our indigenous community in Canada. I just hope that there are measures in place to ensure that the indigenous people who do get accepted end up working in their own communities and serve their people to the best of their abilities. I hope we don't end up getting some indigenous people who grew up in urban areas abusing this policy to gain a seat, where they then just end up working in a major city. 

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7 hours ago, Baljinderthecrow said:

Based on the article, it seems that any indigenous applicant who meets minimum admission requirements (and does not bomb their interview) will get an acceptance. Is it fair? No, in my opinion its not fair for the other applicants. However, I think this measure is absolutely necessary for the betterment of our indigenous community in Canada. I just hope that there are measures in place to ensure that the indigenous people who do get accepted end up working in their own communities and serve their people to the best of their abilities. I hope we don't end up getting some indigenous people who grew up in urban areas abusing this policy to gain a seat, where they then just end up working in a major city. 

Indigenous peoples can be a part of communities within urban areas, or may belong to more than one community — just like people from any other cultural or racial group in Canada. Moreover, we live in a society where people are entitled to live where they choose, regardless of their background (although whether they have the means to do so is a different issue). I think it’s great that this policy is open-minded enough to take these steps without any such apparent limitations on where successful applicants can work and live.  I hope it provides a boost for indigenous representation in medicine, which is sorely needed. I expect most of these physicians will aim to serve their chosen community(ies) fairly and to the best of their abilities regardless of where they are from or where they end up, just like we’d expect from any other doctor.

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1 hour ago, frenchpress said:

Indigenous peoples can be a part of communities within urban areas, or may belong to more than one community — just like people from any other cultural or racial group in Canada. Moreover, we live in a society where people are entitled to live where they choose, regardless of their background (although whether they have the means to do so is a different issue). I think it’s great that this policy is open-minded enough to take these steps without any such apparent limitations on where successful applicants can work and live.  I hope it provides a boost for indigenous representation in medicine, which is sorely needed. I expect most of these physicians will aim to serve their chosen community(ies) fairly and to the best of their abilities regardless of where they are from or where they end up, just like we’d expect from any other doctor.

I recognize that there are urbanized indigenous communities spread across the country as well, and those communities certainly have a right to be served by Indigenous doctors. In my previous statement, I was referring to indigenous doctors from urban or rural indigenous communities that choose to work in non indigenous communities after they complete medicine. I think it would also be unfair if some people with 1/2 or 1/4 indigenous blood, who were not raised in indigenous communities and are not culturally indigenous in any way end up abusing such a policy and take a medical school seat from someone who is more deserving. Overall, I do agree that we need such a policy in place, but I just hope that they use it in such a way to maximize the benefit of indigenous people. 

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8 hours ago, Baljinderthecrow said:

Based on the article, it seems that any indigenous applicant who meets minimum admission requirements (and does not bomb their interview) will get an acceptance. Is it fair? No, in my opinion its not fair for the other applicants. 

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Fairness is a tricky thing to put one's finger on. I think of myself as a very fortunate, well-rounded, and capable person, and y'know what? I often find life to be really really hard. So my thoughts are that if my own very privileged journey is marked by difficulty, I cannot imagine what it would be like if you came from a background like most indigenous people in Canada. Lets be real here: If you are browsing on this forum and looking around, there is higher chance than not that you come from an educated, supportive, wealthy, family that is not definitively marked by a horrendous and injurious part of one's past  (I am not directing this statement at you, Baljinderthecrow, it is a general statement). Lets not kid ourselves--achieving the high level of functioning required to get into medical school is not entirely our own grit and perseverance--often times a huge amount of support is involved. Thus, the system entails that someone who doesn't have that support or healthy starting-point is less likely to succeed in the process. In other words, unless equitable measures are put into place, the need for Indigenous doctors will not be met. 

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This is a very interesting topic.  As medical schools emphasize 'inclusiveness' and 'diversity' with greater vigour - nuanced opinions on the matter, and even more so, critical opinions, are essentially not permitted.

I am of part metis background myself (I think i mentioned this back a few years back) - though I would never have declared it - nor likely even qualify.   At Western, we have a few aboriginal students most years - and they are great folk in general.  There is a paucity of good medical care in remote reservations - or even in urban areas with large aboriginal populations (ie Winnipeg) - so more aboriginal doctors, who are likely to work in such environments, is a good thing.

That being said - a few points.  Many of the people admitted under the aboriginal program, for lack of a better word, are mostly white and get mistaken for white.  Several of these people are from urban/suburban areas as well.  Now I'm not saying they are Elizabeth Warren types (ie 1/1000th native) - but it's clear that many of the disadvantages natives experience in getting into medical school (ie discrimination based on physical features or environment raised) they don't get.  They actually have 'white privilege' in some capacity - and also get a WAY easier pathway into medicine.  

Of course, its not as bad as Australia's aboriginal preferred admissions program - where most graduates would be challenged to find one person of pure aboriginal ancestry among their great-great -grandparents.  https://nacchocommunique.com/2013/01/23/real-good-news-stories-four-new-aboriginal-doctors-coming-to-a-hospital-or-accho-near-you-congratulations/ is one typical example - there are literally dozens to be found from simply googling.  

These graduates with truly questionable genetic connections to the aboriginal community do not genuinely represent the truly underserviced population that well on balance.  Their admission simply makes the medical school look good - but rarely benefits the reserves that need the medical care.

Which also leads to the simple fact that aboriginals are as likely as non aboriginals to have social issues.  Minimizing the interviews importance in screening (while already lowering the academic standard) is dangerous.

And lastly - no affirmative action program has ever disappeared - they just strengthen.  Creating different tiers of doctors.  I think all such programs should have an expiry date - and programs to increase academic interest at the high school and undergraduate level should be done.

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