Northern Michigan University seeks to draw Indian youth into health careers

Marquette, Michigan ( AP) 8-09

Few Native Americans work in health care professions, and Northern Michigan University officials say they hope a program this will entice more Indian youth to consider careers in the field.

The Upper Peninsula is launching The College Prep Medicine Wheel by bringing groups of Native American high school students to the Marquette campus this fall, with each group staying for several days.

“While on campus, they will engage in activities that teach about nursing and clinical sciences careers and degree programs, as well as tour Marquette General Hospital,” the school said in a news release. “The participants will also meet Native American professionals working in the health care fields.

According to the school, Native Americans are “severely underrepresented” in health care.

As an example, about 13,000 of the 2.7 million licensed registered nurses in the U.S. are Native American, Northern Michigan said.


Dean Paul Lang said the program “has the potential to significantly impact the perceptions, realities and understandings that Native American high school students have regarding health care in the United States.”

University spokeswoman Cindy Paavola said the school is aiming for about 40 participants this fall.

Participants will come from the Upper Peninsula’s five federally recognized tribes as well as from tribes in the Lower Peninsula, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Northern Michigan’s Center for Native American Studies works with the Hannahville Indian School to host summer science programs for middle school students.

“We lose touch with them after middle school,” said center director April Lindala. “It’s time for us to seek out those students now that they are in high and further promote college life with these types of interactive programs.

“We need for these students to know that they have a place in our classrooms and labs.”

On the Net: Center for Native American Studies