Understanding American Indian and Alaska Native Identities: Considerations for Medical School and Residency Programs (IDEAS) - May 18

Recorded On: 05/18/2022


There is growing interest in promoting health equity and antiracism in academic medicine.  As part of this work, it is important to reexamine biases and practices that may undermine efforts to increase diversity.  Data show that along the medical education continuum there is a need for more intentional efforts to fully engage American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Part of this work involves understanding the history of colonization and its role in framing and defining the identities of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States, and how this translates into admissions and selection policies and practices. This is necessary as pre-medical students in the admissions process and medical students during residency interviews have reported incidents where their identity as American Indian or Alaska Native is questioned in ways that do not exemplify values of respect or professionalism.  In collaboration with the Association of American Indian Physicians and the Association of Native American Medical Students, this session will outline data, describe how American Indian and Alaska Native identity is different from other historically excluded groups in medicine, and clarify the constellation of external factors that influence American Indian and Alaska Native identity. These factors include but are not limited to, Tribal government definitions, blood quantum, and cultural connections.  Reflecting on their longstanding work in academic medicine, research, clinical care, and lived experiences, our panelists will share best practices and guidance on how to best advance the inclusion of American Indian and Alaska Native learners and trainees throughout the medical education continuum.

The AAMC IDEAS (Inclusion Diversity, Equity, Antiracism) Webinar series provides actionable information about DEI strategies that you can put into practice to become a more effective and successful leader, educator, and member of the academic medicine community.   

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Norma Poll-Hunter, PhD
Senior Director, Workforce Diversity, AAMC

Norma Iris Poll-Hunter, Ph.D. is Senior Director, Workforce Diversity in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).  She leads a portfolio of career development initiatives focused on advancing diversity and inclusion across the medical education continuum. She also serves as the Principal Investigator for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Summer Health Professions Education Program, manages numerous partnerships and collaborations, an awards program recognizing national leadership in diversity and health equity, and research projects focused on an array of diversity, cultural competence and workforce topics. She was the lead author of Altering the Course: Black Males in Medicine, and major contributor to Reshaping the Journey: American Indians and Alaska Natives in Medicine.  

Prior to the AAMC, Dr. Poll-Hunter practiced as a bilingual psychologist in Schenectady, New York. She attended the University of Albany, SUNY, where she earned her Ph.D. in counseling psychology, and she earned her BA in Psychology at Lehman College, CUNY.

Nicole Redvers, ND, MHP
Assistant Professor, Indigenous Health; Assistant Professor, Family & Community Medicine at the University of North Dakota

Dr. Nicole Redvers, ND, MPH, is a member of the Deninu K’ue First Nation and has worked with various Indigenous patients and communities around the globe helping to bridge the gap between Indigenous traditional and modern medical systems. She is co-founder and chair of the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation based in the Canadian North with her foundation awarded the $1 million-dollar 2017 Arctic Inspiration Prize for their work with vulnerable populations within land-based healing settings in the Northwest Territories. Dr. Redvers is currently an assistant professor in both the Department of Family & Community Medicine and the Department of Indigenous Health at the University of North Dakota where she has helped co-develop the first Indigenous Health PhD degree program in North America. She has been actively involved at the international level promoting the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in planetary health and education for sustainable health care. Dr. Redvers sits on the inaugural advisory board for the American Public Health Association's Center for Climate, Health and Equity Steering Committee, is senior fellow of Indigenous and Community Health with inVIVO Planetary Health, sits on the steering committee for the Planetary Health Alliance, and sits on the external advisory board for EcoHealth International. Her scholarly work engages a breadth of scholarly projects attempting to bridge gaps between Indigenous and Western ways of knowing as it pertains to individual, community and planetary health. Dr. Redvers recently published the trade paperback, 'The Science of the Sacred: Bridging Global Indigenous Medicine Systems and Modern Scientific Principles,' and currently is a Lancet commissioner on the Lancet Comission on Arctic Health.

Mary Owen, MD
Director, Center of American Indian and Minority Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School; President of the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP)

Dr. Mary Owen is a member of the Tlingit nation. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School and North Memorial Family Practice Residency Program before returning home to work for her tribal community in Juneau, Alaska. After eleven years of full-scope family medicine, she returned to the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth in 2014, as the Director of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health (CAIMH). Her work includes: developing and managing programs to increase the numbers of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students entering medical careers, outreaching to local and national Native leaders to ensure University of Minnesota Medical School remain in tune with AIAN health care and education needs, developing an AIAN track for all students interested in providing healthcare to AIAN communities and developing research efforts to address AIAN health disparities. She continues to provide clinical care at the Center of American Indian Resources in Duluth and is the current President of the Association of American Indian Physicians.

Erik Brodt, MD
Associate Professor, Dept. of Family Medicine; Director, Northwest Native American Center of Excellence; Assistant Dean of Native American Health at Oregon Health & Science University; SKOLL Foundation Senior Fellow

Erik Brodt, MD, Anishinaabe – Minnesota Chippewa, grew up near Chippewa Falls, WI and spent summers with family in the rural areas around Bemidji, MN. Dr. Brodt earned his M.D. from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and completed residency in Family Medicine at the Seattle Indian Health Board – Swedish Cherry Hill Family Medicine Residency in Seattle, WA. Dr. Brodt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. He practices in the OHSU Hospital inpatient setting and Warm Springs Tribal Health clinic, while also serving as the founding Director of the OHSU Northwest Native American Center of Excellence. Erik is a fierce believer in occasional magic working to eliminate Native health disparities and improve Native American Health Professions programming nationally through creative partnerships and collaborations. An entrepreneur at heart, Erik and his wife Amanda have explored the fashion ecosystem through their global collection Ginew – featured in Vogue & GQ; culinary creativity and sustainable food systems; and the digital media non-profit WE ARE HEALERS. In his free time Dr. Brodt enjoys spending his time in Portland, OR with his wife Amanda, daughter Honukōkūlaniokauna’oa (Honu), their dogs Stinky & Pippa, and a motley crew of friends comprised of change-makers, mavens, and creatives.

Alec Calac
President, Association of Native American Medical Students (ANAMS)

Alec Calac (Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians) is a medical student at the University of California, San Diego, where he is also pursuing a PhD in the Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health at the UC San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science and School of Public Health at San Diego State University. As the national president of the Association of Native American Medical Students, he works tirelessly at the local, state, and federal level, identifying barriers and facilitators to greater inclusion of Native Americans in medicine and the allied health professions. He also works collaboratively with the Global Health Policy and Data Institute on research projects that synthesize Tribal public health, social media, and health technology. His research interests are in medical education and workforce development, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation spread, and social media use among marginalized populations.

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