Medical School Application Information for Aboriginal Students

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The need for doctors in Canada is high, especially in northern and remote communities where there are higher Aboriginal populations.

However, the number of First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNIM) with medical degrees is significantly less than the rest of the Canadian population.

As of 2008, the number of FNIM physicians that were actively practising was only 200, when it was estimated that 10 times that number of Indigenous MDs were required to meet the healthcare needs of Canada’s Aboriginal population.

Since 2004, the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC) and the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) have been working with Canadian medical schools to increase the number of Aboriginal medical students to meet the current FNIM population demographic.

As a result, 16 of the 17 Canadian medical schools identify a process by which they hope to make medical school more accessible to Indigenous students. These Aboriginal-specific applications consider how colonialism has affected FNIM university undergraduate degree completion rates, which currently stands at just 8%.

The applications vary slightly from school to school, but the common factors are that you must:

  • meet the other general requirements (GPA, MCAT score, etc.);
  • provide proof of your Aboriginal ancestry (coming from Status/Treaty Card, Métis Membership card/letter, Nunavut Trust Service card or Inuit roll number);
  • provide a personal letter about why you wish to become a physician;
  • and, in many cases, submit a letter of support from your community

A summation of how the medical schools consider Aboriginal applicants is noted in the chart below:

University

Program application information

 Dalhousie University
  • Aboriginal applicants are considered based on
    Dalhousie’s Affirmative Action policy
  • No specific number of spots for FNIM students
McMaster University
  • Indigenous applicants are considered based on the Aboriginal Application Process which can include a different process for the MCAT
  • No designated spots for FNIM students
Memorial University
  • Two guaranteed spots for Indigenous applicants whose residency is in Newfoundland or Labrador; if these conditions are not met, the spots are opened up for FNIM from other provinces/territories
Ottawa University
  • Aboriginal Program developed in 2005
  • Seven spots are designated for FNIM students from across Canada
Northern Ontario School of Medicine
  • Two spots are delegated for Indigenous applicants
  • Aboriginal applicants have an “advantage in the application process”
Quebec Universities (McGill University,
Université Laval, Université de Montréal et Université de Sherbrooke)
  • The Quebec First Nations and Inuit Faculties of Medicine Program was launched in 2008
  • Four total spots are available between the four schools for Quebec First Nations or Inuit applicants
Queen’s University
  • Up to four spots are allocated for FNIM applicants
  • Admissions Committee and the Aboriginal community jointly decide on which candidates to be interviewed
University of Alberta
  • Indigenous Health Initiative founded in 1988
  • Five spots reserved for Indigenous applicants each year
  • Third-year clerkship and Pre-Clinical Networked Medical Education programs focus on getting experience in rural and FNIM communities
University of British Columbia
  • Aboriginal MD Admissions Program set up in 2001
  • FNIM applicants consist of at least 5% of the funded positions available each year
  • 12 Indigenous MDs graduated in 2012, the largest class yet
University of Calgary
  • Aboriginal Health Program founded in 2008
  • There are no spots set aside for FNIM applicants, however, the University of Calgary expects that 3% (or four students) should be admitted each year
  • All Indigenous applicants who meet the minimum requirements are invited for an interview
University of Manitoba
  • All FNIM applicants who meet the minimum requirements are granted an interview
  • The final application score of Aboriginal applicants has different weighting than other applicants
University of Toronto
  • Implemented the Indigenous Student Application Program (ISAP) to increase the number of FNIM medical students
University of Saskatchewan
  • Aboriginal Equity Program designates 10% of their available spots to Aboriginal Applicants with a preference for those from Saskatchewan
Western University
  • Three appointed spots for FNIM applicants each year

Aboriginal Careers Week featuring PwC and BHP Billiton

Photo credit: Philip Squires

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