Wy'east: An Innovative, Culturally Responsive Postbaccalaureate Pathway for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Allison Empey, Shoshana Zeisman-Pereyo, Peter Mayinger, Katharine E. Zuckerman, Sarah Rasmussen-Rehkopf, Patricia A. Carney, Cynthia L. Taylor, Cynthia Morris, Amanda Bruegl, Polly Olsen, Erik Brodt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Problem American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIANs) face significant health disparities that are exacerbated by limited access to high-quality, culturally congruent health care providers. There are no premedical postbaccalaureate programs focused on AIAN students. Approach The Northwest Native American Center of Excellence designed the Wy'east Pathway in 2018 to increase the number of AIANs matriculating to U.S. medical schools by supporting those on the cusp of matriculation. Wy'east scholars undertake 10 months of structured programming to augment their academic preparation, improve their Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores, and enhance their confidence and cultural identity. Cultural events and mentorship opportunities with AIAN faculty, staff, and cultural liaisons are threaded throughout the pathway curriculum to foster cultural resilience, mentorship, and community. Scholars earn conditional acceptance to Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine if they complete Wy'east and meet the following criteria: pass all examinations in the primary curricular threads, obtain a qualifying MCAT score, and meet professionalism standards. Outcomes All 14 scholars who successfully completed Wy'east and met criteria in the first 2 cohorts (academic years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020) earned conditional acceptance to OHSU School of Medicine. Ten of the 14 scholars (71.4%) matriculated to OHSU School of Medicine, 2 (14.3%) matriculated to other medical schools, and 2 (14.3%) chose to pursue other health care fields. Wy'east scholars rated the foundational science of medicine and population health and epidemiology threads higher in terms of making them feel better prepared for medical school (mean = 4.71 and 4.83, respectively) than the academic skills and wellness thread (mean = 3.43). Next Steps Over the next 5 years, Wy'east will grow incrementally to offer a total of 18 conditional acceptance spots per cohort across 3 medical schools. Longitudinal tracking of Wy'east scholars' medical training and career outcomes will be conducted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-517
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume97
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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