Native Americans have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes, while also being more likely to die from diabetes, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, cancer, stroke, kidney disease, suicide, assault and drug-related causes. To address these health disparities, the School of Public Health has begun offering a minor in American Indian health for graduate students.
In Minnesota, and across the country, there is a distinct lack of health professionals with knowledge of tribal culture and laws. The new program aims to change that by educating students on Native American culture, tribal laws, navigating the federal Indian Health Service, and the communication between Indian nations and the federal government.
"Native American specific programming within the School of Public Health is critical, both to increase the pool of culturally aware health care workers but also to expand awareness of the existing and successful public health programming that has long been integral to Native American health care,” says Mary Owen, MD, Director of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health at the Medical school.
The program was announced in June and is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.