The mission of the American Indian and Alaskan Native Health Academic Concentration (AIHAC) is to provide medical students with the knowledge, experiences and resources needed to prepare them for careers focused on providing healthcare to Native populations by learning about their specific healthcare needs, cultural context in which that care is provided and how medical research may inform decisions made by healthcare personnel.
- Learning appropriate management and treatment of diseases common in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities with a focus on culturally sensitive care. This will be accomplished by the completion of relevant didactic coursework and mentored clinical experiences in tribally operated Indian Health Service (IHS) hospitals and ambulatory clinics.
- Understanding the historical context for community-based research with AI/AN communities through the California Native American Research Center for Health (CA-NARCH).
- Engagement in preventive medicine and public health in a tribal healthcare setting.
- Understanding of social, environmental, economic and political issues related to providing healthcare to tribal communities and limitations/adaptations to the delivery of IHS care.
Who Should Apply to the AIHAC Track?
- Students committed to a career focused on the provision of healthcare to AI/AN populations.
- Students potentially interested in pursuing an academic medical career with a research agenda focused on AI/AN health.
- Students ready to commit to the curriculum and fulfill (or exceed) expectations.
- Applicants do not need to have prior experience with AI/AN populations.
Applications to the AIHAC will be available through the UCSD School of Medicine secondary application. Interested applicants will check a box in the secondary application to indicate their interest in the track and compose a one-page essay (detailed instructions will be provided on the secondary application). Selected applicants will be invited for interviews with AIHAC Faculty via video chat starting in February, and admissions decisions occur on a rolling basis. Admission offers from the UCSD School of Medicine are made independently of the AIHAC program. A total of six students from the applicant pool may be selected for admission to the track each year.
There will be four events during interview season where applicants can meet current faculty and students. Further information on these events will be provided to select applicants who are invited to interview with the medical school.
Requirements of the Academic Concentration
Beyond that for the existing M.D. curriculum, the following coursework and training will be required.
Years 1 and 2: The student will complete a minimum of 14 credit hours: 8 required plus 6 elective.
Students will complete a
minimum of 8 credit hours that are intended to provide a strong introduction to AI/AN health topics and issues. The required courses are:
SOMI 233: Influences on Health: From Genes to Communities (3 credit hours)
b. SOMI 234: Beyond the Bench and Bedside: Partnering with Communities (3 credit hours)
c. MED 235: Tribal Ambulatory Healthcare Experience (2 credit hours)
* When additional internal and external grant funding is available, more tailored AI/AN health courses may be substituted for SOMI 233 and SOMI 234.
Students will also complete a
minimum of 6 additional credit hours in health-related electives. Students may select from the following options:
a. ANES 223: Introduction to the Politics of Medicine
b. SOMI 230: Health Education Outreach/DOC 4 A DAY
c. SOMI 235: Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies
d. FPM 246 Occupational/ Environmental Health
e. FPM 270: Cultural Perceptions about Health and Disease
f. MED 287/FPM 287: Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases
General campus courses may also be taken to fulfill this requirement.
Note: Medical students may take these courses
only if they are offered at times that do not conflict with their SOM core courses. Please note that the general campus courses follow different calendars.
a. ETHN 103: Environmental Racism
b. ETHN 110: Cultural World Views in Indigenous America
c. ETHN 112A: History of Native Americans in the United States I
d. ETHN 112B: History of Native Americans in the United States II
e. ETHN 112C: California Native American History
f. ETHN 142: Medicine, Race, and the Global Politics of Inequality
g. ETHN 262: Race, Inequality, and Health
h. ETHN 260: Transnationalism and Borderlands: The Local and Global
i. FMPH 401: Introduction to Epidemiology
j. FMPH 402: Introduction to Health Behavior
k. FMPH 403: Public Health Research Methods
l. FMPH 405: Introduction to Health Policy
m. FMPH 410: Health Behavior Interventions
n. FMPH 411: Program Optimization and Evaluation
o. FMPH 413: Ethics in Public Health Research and Practice
p. FMPH 412: Health Promotion and Communication
q. FMPH 426: Mental Health, Health Behavior, and Addiction
r. FMPH 427: Mental Health across the Lifecourse
s. FMPH 428: Dissemination and Implementation, Policy, and Health Services in Mental Health
t. FMPH 413: Ethics in Public Health Research and Practice
u. FMPH 460: Design and Public Health
v. FMPH 277: Health Policy, Technology and Public Health
CONTACT USMatthew Allison, MD, MPHDirector, American Indian Health Academic Concentration (AIHAC)Department Family Medicinemallison@health.ucsd.edu
Summer Experience - Between Years 1 and 2
Each student will start a scholarly project in the summer between years 1 and 2, and engage with a mentor in preparing a proposal for a scholarly project. The scholarly project may involve biomedical, clinical, or social science research, as well as healthcare education, promotion, or disease prevention in an AI-AN community. It is expected that this project be completed by the beginning of year 4. The project may address a specific scientific question or involve the creation of a new methodology in medical education or patient care. The project itself, the rationale, and the goal(s) must be clearly defined. The definition of specific goals at the outset will facilitate the development of an appropriate strategy for completing the project. The scholarly project must be approved by AIHAC Steering Committee.
Independent Study Project/Master's Degree
The AI/AN health project may be used to fulfill the School of Medicine's Independent Study Project (ISP) requirement. A student would have to receive approval of their ISP proposal from the Electives Committee prior to starting their summer ISP project.*
Students may have the option of working with a research mentor/affiliate at UCSD, San Diego State University (SDSU), or California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) to satisfy their ISP requirement. An example of research infrastructure available to the students is the California NARCH program (CA-NARCH,
https://www.indianhealth.com/ca-narch), which is a partnership of Tribal/Urban Indian Organizations and academic institutions committed to working together to strengthen tribal sovereignty over the healthcare of the community and to recruit and support students pursuing science and health fields.
YEAR 4 -
Native Health Clinical Experience
All AIHAC matriculated students are be expected to participate in a clinical rotation (or a combination of clinical and research experience) at an IHS site for academic credit, with the approval of the AIHAC Steering Committee. The experience must be
a minimum of 4 weeks but may be longer. The experience must be sponsored by a UCSD Faculty member who can ensure proper oversight of the experience and assign academic credit.
Integration with SOM Core Curriculum
As feasible, the AIHAC curriculum will be integrated with required School of Medicine core courses. For instance, there may be opportunities to offer the Ambulatory Care Apprenticeship (ACA) within the Clinical Foundations Course (MS1 and MS2 years) and the Primary Care Clerkship (MS3 year) at local IHS sites. Students interested in these experiences may then elect to use these options within their core courses.
Coordinator, American Indian Health Academic Concentration (AIHAC)
Office of Diversity and Community Partnerships