In the article “Canadian medical schools struggle to recruit Aboriginal students” some Aboriginal doctors describe the cultural difference between being a student in an Aboriginal community and being a student in a major Canadian medical school as being a major hurdle.
Coming from an Aboriginal nursing background, I was used to an environment that was very nurturing, very non-judgmental, very non-competitive,” she says. “You learn to be very comfortable talking about your struggles, what you need to work on to become a stronger person or a better caregiver. Medical school was very different. It was a very competitive environment… people keep their cards close to their chest… they don’t want to reveal themselves; what they see as weaknesses. I found this very difficult. My colleagues didn’t understand. When asked to self-evaluate, my colleagues thought I was putting myself down. I think my ability to talk about myself is a huge strength, it lets me improve as a doctor and as a person, but my colleagues didn’t see it that way. I found this very difficult.
There are several reasons for this cultural difference posited in the blog post, including the poorer quality of education students can receive on reserve, lack of modelling in their own communities, and also lack of respect for or integration of traditional knowledge in many undergraduate medical programs. The article indicates that more needs to be done than simply recruiting indigenous students, but rather that the programs need to change to better suit/fit with the ways indigenous students already live.