The sustained, positive impact of a Native American Cultures and Health course on Students’ Education and Practice-Related Choices

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Objective. To encourage pharmacy students to elect education and practice opportunities in Native American communities, including careers with the Indian Health Service (IHS).

Methods. Students in 2 elective courses were educated on various aspects of contemporary Native American life in urban and reservation environments, including cultural traditions, social and healthrelated challenges, health access disparities, and cultural approaches to health and wellness. The teachers were Native American leaders and healers primarily from Plains tribes, as well as non-Native American practitioners affiliated with IHS hospitals and tribal health facilities. Students kept reflective journals, and a subset spent 5 days immersed in a rural Navajo community where they lived and worked alongside IHS practitioners and Community Health Representatives.

Results. Student engagement with IHS opportunities was tracked for 11 years. Of the 69 pharmacy students who completed the electives, 11 applied for a Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Externship Program (Jr. COSTEP) (8 accepted, 6 completed), 43 requested one or more IHS APPEs (43 accepted, 32 completed, 8 in progress), 17 applied for an IHS residency (1 pending, 8 accepted, 5 completed), and 5 became IHS Commissioned Corps officers. Five additional students accepted an IHS or tribal position, with 3 pursuing a USPHS commission.

Conclusion. Since the first report on the impact of this elective experience was published, the course continues to meet its primary objective of promoting interest in IHS/tribal education experiences and pharmacy practice careers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number172
JournalAmerican journal of pharmaceutical education
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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