Summer Programs Available For Native Students Interested In Medicine

Apr 25, 2014

In 1971 a group of fourteen American Indian and Alaska Native doctors formed the Association of American Indian Physicians, or AAIP, with the primary goal of improving the health of native communities by, among other things, giving support to native doctors in training. Today, the group has taken this mission further by encouraging future medical students.

Credit Susan Shannon

AAIP consists of many different departments, including the newly formed Capacity Building Program. All departments are geared to improving health in native communities across the United States.

Gary Lankford, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is the Program Director for the Advances in Indian Health Care student programs. Lankford acts as a recruiter for native students who show interest in a career in medicine.

“We put on activities and different workshops for American Indian/Alaska Native high school and college and graduate students who are interested in going into medicine or bio-medical research,” Lankford said.

A review committee of AAIP member physicians select 25 American Indian/Alaska Native high school students to go to Washington, D.C. for ten days at the end of June.

“It’s an intense summer program. We put it on for American Indian/Alaska Native high school students. They have to be at least 16 years old and sophomores in high school,” Lankford said.

“We stay on the George Washington University campus. We give them all kinds of information and presentations from different minority health experts and professionals to try and encourage them to undertake careers in medicine and bio-medical research,” Lankford said.

The number of applicants has grown through the years, but as Lankford points out, finding high school students who already know what they want to do with their lives, can be difficult. But for the 25 selected, it can be a life changing trip to Washington, D.C. The students will tour different colleges as well as stay on the George Washington University Campus.

“We spend two days with the National Institutes of Health. They get to hear presentations from some of the physicians and health care professionals there. They also get to tour the lab areas at NIH,” Lankford said.

The students spend a day at the Office of Minority Health learning about health disparities among all racial and ethnic minority groups.

“Basically the entire stay is tailored to giving them the information that they’re going to need to apply for medical school and take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions) test,” Lankford said. “AAIP is there to help them along and support them in any way that they need to move them toward their futures.”

For more information go to  The deadline is May 23.

For Native American/Alaska Native Students Interested In Pharmacology

Another summer program is at the Native American Center of Excellence on the University of Montana campus in Missoula, Montana. A four week summer program is offered through the Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

To be eligible students must be currently accepted into, or placed on a wait list, to a professional pharmacy program for the 2014-2015 academic year. This program is designed to academically prepare Native American/Alaska Native students for their first year of a professional pharmacy program.

For an application go to The deadline to submit an application is May 16th.

For more information on scholarships and grants for Native Americans, go to

Upcoming Native Events

The Honor Powwow for the outgoing Miss Indian Oklahoma and Junior Miss Indian Oklahoma is next Friday May 2 at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur.  Grand Entry is at 3:30pm .  For more information go to the website for the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women,

On May 3, next Saturday, Western Heights Indian Education Powwow will be held at Bridgestone Intermediate School, 1700 South Council Road in Oklahoma City from  2:00 pm-8:00 pm. Booth Space is available for vendors. Tiny Tots, Girls & Boys dance contests only. For more information call Karen Onco, 405-261-6734 or 405-417-7990 or

Also on May 3rd, the Sequoyah Schools H.O.P.E. Club Graduation Powwow will be held in the Sequoyah Schools Old Gym in Tahlequah. Grand Entry is at 7:00 pm. For more information call Tonya Sopa, 918-453-5400, ext. 5954.


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