UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

The University of British Columbia is on mission to train future doctors, dentists and other health-care providers to treat Indigenous patients by learning about the pain inflicted by past Canadian policies.

First-year students in midwifery, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, genetic counselling, social work, dental hygiene and dietetics are required to take an online course and two workshops to help them better serve Aboriginal people.

In 2018, students in audiology and speech and language pathology will also participate.

Jason Min, who teaches in the university’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences and has worked with the Lil’wat Nation, facilitated a workshop Thursday for students in various programs.

“I think I graduated feeling confident in my knowledge of medications and how they worked. I didn’t know that was not enough to provide good care,” he said.

He said training health-care students in their first year to reflect on stereotypes and Canada’s colonial legacy will allow them to become better clinicians and see every patient as an individual.

The name of the program — UBC 23-24 Indigenous Cultural Safety Interdisciplinary Learning Experience — is a response to calls for actions 23 and 24 from a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. They’re among a list of 94 actions recommended by the commission to redress the legacy of residential schools.

The program was launched this month.

First-year medical student Dakota Peacock said health-care professionals have a lot to learn about “cultural humility” involving Indigenous populations subjected to systemic racism that caused them to distrust those treating them.

READ MORE: UBC students gain new source for naloxone kits

WATCH: High prescription drug costs hinder access for seniors: UBC study

“Having the humility that we don’t know everything about this person in front us means we cannot make assumptions and we should not be stereotyping them,” said Peacock, who aims to become a neurologist.

One professor’s story has stuck with him, and it’s about an Indigenous man who arrived at an emergency room with slurred speech and “disorderly” movements. Staff assumed he was drunk and didn’t treat him. He died of a brain injury.

“I’m hoping to learn what we as health-care professionals can do to mend the divide between medical professionals and Indigenous Peoples, a divide that has been created as a result of the residential school system,” said Peacock.

Dr. Nadine Caron, co-director of the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health at UBC, said the training will provide health-care students opportunities to work in environments where they understand some of the root causes of health determinants, such as poverty.

“We expect the students to work together as equals to figure out what’s important to them as health-care trainees, to become the best health professionals they can, in a country that has its history,” said Caron, who is Indigenous and a surgeon in Prince George, B.C.

“There have been so many silos. It’s not that different programs haven’t tried to address this. But there’s never been an interdisciplinary curriculum that’s meant to be taken as a mandatory component for a health-care trainee who graduates from UBC.”

Caron said her hope is that eventually, Indigenous people will journey through every stage of care with professionals who have had the training to provide the respect all patients deserve.

“As a health-care professional, you won’t be the one saying you’ve done it right,” Caron said. “It’s the humility of recognizing that regardless of the number of degrees after your name it’s the patient and their family who are the experts in terms of how you made them feel.”

Carrie Anne Vanderhoop, who led the development of the curriculum as part of her work in the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health, said regulatory colleges of various health-care professions in British Columbia have committed to fostering “cultural safety.”

The province has more than 200 First Nation bands and over 60 per cent of Canada’s Indigenous languages are spoken in B.C., she said.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

David Moskowitz file
Wildsight to present webinar on Inland Temperate Rainforest

Join Wildsight next Tuesday, December 1, 2020 for a free webinar on… Continue reading

Carmen Hintz (right) donates $500 to Heather Smith (left) at the Kimberley Food Bank, leftover cash after fundraising to rescue four kittens. Paul Rodgers photo.
Local’s extra kitten fundraiser money donated to Kimberley Food Bank

Carmen Hintz donates $500, after raising money to support rescued cats

Ryder and Cohen of Kimberley Minor Hockey can play on with new mandates from the Provincial Health Officer. Photo submitted.
Kimberley Minor Hockey president hopes to see curve flatten for a return to hockey

New COVID-19 orders put in place by the government last week stated… Continue reading

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Most Read