A new academic year with a ton of information!
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Fall 2015 Newsletter

In this Issue: (A ton!)

  • A Little History

  • A Message from the President

  • July 2015 AAIP/ANAMS Conference Update

  • Celebrate Primary Care with the National Health Service Corps
  • ANAMS T-Shirts!

  • Scholarship Announcement

  • A Message from the AAMC

  • Duluth Chapter Update

  • Residency Couch Surf Program

  • ANAMS Mentorship Program

  • National Association of Native American Studies Announcement
  • E-Board Contact Information

A Little History:

Founded in 1975, the Association of Native American Medical Students (ANAMS) is a student organization representing Native American graduate health professions students throughout the US and Canada. ANAMS is comprised of Native American students enrolled in medical school or in the allied health professions of Dentistry, Veterinary, Optometry, Podiatry, and Pharmacy and Public Health. Presently, the membership consists of approximately 80 students.


The goals of ANAMS include providing support and a resource network for all Native Americans currently enrolled in various allied health professions schools. ANAMS strives to increase the number of Native American students in medicine and other health professions. Exposure and recognition on a national level throughout the medical community is what we continue to promote.

Our organization is primarily supported by the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP). On our pathway into the health professions we hope to provide Native students a resource network

A Message from the President:

Greetings! My name is Paul Blackcloud, and for those of you I have not yet met, I am currently a fourth year medical student at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and this year’s President of ANAMS. I always come back from conferences feeling energized and renewed, and this year’s annual AAIP/ANAMS meeting in Washington was no exception. If you were unable to attend, you can read more about it within this newsletter. It was wonderful getting to meet and spend time with fellow members and we recognize that one of the biggest challenges we face is our geographic separation. With that in mind, we realize how important it is that we maintain a focus on regular communication among members. We will continue our quarterly newsletter, with future newsletters to come out in December, March, and June. We want to use these to not only share information that we hope is relevant to you all as

ANAMS members, but we also want to to celebrate the accomplishments of our members. This year we are starting a scholarship program aimed at rewarding the work you are all already doing. More details on this are in the newsletter and will be sent out to members in the coming months, but it is our goal to both acknowledge and celebrate member accomplishments while also sharing ideas of how members are contributing to their communities. I am excited to see our organization continue to grow this year and want to encourage you all to reach out to me or any other member of the leadership team if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.

Paul Blackcloud, ANAMS President

AAIP/ANAMS Conference 2015


The AAIP Homecoming 2015 “Coming Back the Heart of Medicine A Legacy of Wisdom, a Future of Excellence” was held in  beautiful Tulalip, Washington from July 27-Aug 2. Students of a levels of education and physicians gathered to meet new faces, reconnect, and to work together to address health issues facing Native American communities.


The week started out with a pre-admission workshop put on by the University of Minnesota. Students looking to apply to medical school were counseled on application preparation, MCAT strategies, and interview practice sessions.


The conference kicked off Wednesday night with a student/physician mixer.  It was a great opportunity for medical students to connect with physicians and residents from all backgrounds and specialities. The next morning was the annual retreat for men or women. If you were feeling sporty, there was a 5k Friday morning sponsored by Seattle Children’s Hospital.


ANAMS board members were able to connect with incoming medical students and establish goals for the coming year. Overall the conference was a great mix of new scientific research, educational sessions, and meeting new friends and future colleagues!

Collect your ANAMS T-Shirt!


Scholarship Announcement

  • This year we are excited to announce the launch of 3 separate scholarships that will focus on research, community outreach, and creative passion. Look for upcoming emails!

Celebrate Primary Care with the National Health Service Corps (NHSC)


During the month of October, the NHSC will hold its fifth annual Corps Community Month to increase awareness about primary care careers and the NHSC’s role in bringing primary health care services to communities that need them the most.


NHSC scholarships and loan repayment opportunities are offered to primary care providers who commit to serving for at least two years at an NHSC-approved site located in a Health Professional Shortage Area, including American Indian Health Facilities. NHSC is committed to providing culturally competent care to the country’s underserved areas and will continue to increase the diversity of its Corps members. Of the NHSC’s nearly 10,000 clinicians currently providing care, currently 2% are Native American or Alaska Native.


Watch NHSC stories from the field of clinicians serving Native American patients, including:


·       Dr. Ellen Piernot (Grants, NM) -

·       Kevin Mahoney (Utica, NY) -

·       Dr. Sarah Michaels (Navajo Nation) -


To learn more about Corps Community Month and the NHSC programs, visit, and to find out when various NHSC applications open, reference the 2016 application bulletin: #ChoosePrimaryCare

Establishing Connectedness in Medical School: Perspectives on Reducing the Sense of Isolation

Andrea N. Garcia, M.D., M.S.

Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles Department of Public Health

Norma Poll-Hunter, PhD

Senior Director, Diversity Policy and Programs, Association of American Medical Colleges


I was invited to write an article about cultural isolation in medical school. As a Latina, I have experienced a sense of isolation while in graduate school, and in some cases while working in different roles.  However, I thought it was important to take this opportunity to give voice to someone Native who has experienced medical school. I invited Andrea to serve as co-author and I feel privileged to share her perspective on this issue.


In all fairness, the first three years of my five year specialized program were quite wonderful. That is not to say that I didn’t realize I was different than my classmates (aside from the standard situation of being the only Native American/Latina in my cohort and relatively poor compared to their backgrounds).  For instance, it kind of blew my mind that quite a few of my classmates were not a ‘minority’ but were fluent in Spanish or another language because they’d volunteered or lived abroad. It was also strange how much healthier they seemed to be than anyone I’d ever known. They exercised on purpose, and I finally learned what being kosher and vegan meant. Most of their parents earned professional degrees, and some of them were even doctors. Because of this, it seemed like they knew what to expect, and were already aware of the impending board exams, rotations, etc.. Looking back, I realized that their upbringing better prepared them for the subtleties of the culture of medicine that can’t be taught, even if you do work hard and attain great achievements.1 Yet, although I was vastly different in my socioeconomic upbringing, and culture, we were all like-minded in how we wanted to change the world and help underserved communities. Yes, I was different, but not excluded.


Medical school is already noted as a challenging and arduous time, and adding to these experiences of feeling different may be a sense of isolation for many racial and ethnic minority students.   AAMC data show that African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander and Latino students represent less than 13% of matriculated students in 2014.2   By looking at sheer numbers, this sense of feeling different and possibly isolated from other medical school peers may be a reality for many students who are underrepresented at their institutions.


So, why is this important? Feeling connected is found to be critical to health.  Research shows that young adults who feel socially isolated are more likely to experience slower wound healing and poor sleep.3   We know sleep is essential for learning.  So, what happens when you are in medical school, residency, or starting your first position and you feel disconnected or socially isolated? There is limited research that speaks to the experience of medical school students and social isolation.  In a series of letters to the editor of Academic Medicine, leaders recognize that racial and ethnic minority students who feel isolated and may withdraw are likely to be perceived as unprofessional, or not engaged academically.  Some argued that achieving a “critical mass – having more students of color” may mitigate a sense of isolation.  Others recognize the need for broader cultural change at the institution, including integration of diversity and cultural competence in the curriculum, hosting cultural and social programming, and a safe place for students to share their experiences.4


American Indian and Alaska Native students represent less than .5% of all students enrolled in MD granting institutions.2 This presents a unique experience compared to other historically underrepresented minority groups.  Research shows that Native students may experience struggles with maintaining cultural connections in environments that often do not align with their cultural values, in some cases places like medical school.  Medical students may feel wedged between two cultures, challenged to live near their families or


tribe, and experience a lack of role models of a similar background. 5,6 This may contribute to feelings of isolation. These are normative feelings and there are ways to manage them.


“The things that mattered to me most (e.g. finding the native community in my surroundings) I did with relative ease. I quickly found the other Natives on campus, I found the Intertribal Friendship House, immersed myself into the pow wow scene, started volunteering with a native youth program nearby, attended ceremonies when possible, and continued participating in ANAMS, and AAIP as much as possible. “


Our medical schools are aware of the importance of nurturing inclusive environments.  Dr. Geoffrey Young, Senior Director for Student Affairs and Programs at the AAMC, shared that institutions are responding to this issue for all students in innovative ways.  Some emerging practices include the development of smaller learning communities where medical students connect with a cohort of peers and a faculty advisor and other supports, and a focus on medical student wellness.  He reminds us that students should not be afraid to seek out services available to all students like the student affairs offices and counseling services are valuable supports for students experiencing a sense of isolation.


Each medical school also has a designated diversity affairs office and leaders who are available to support students.  Get to know who is at your institution at

AAMC also has a great portal of resources for medical students at


Along the Medical Education Continuum


It is important to know that many students and residents struggle with a variety of emotions on the path to becoming a physician.  It is often helpful to hear others’ perspectives and potentially learn from them.


“The actual process of becoming a doctor, the part where I left my little bubble of a 16 person like-minded class, and moved on to the bigger institution to see patients, was, to be clear, very isolating. Literally, on my first day of a clinical rotation, one of my new classmates asked, “What ARE you?” And on learning that I was Native American, assumed without missing a beat, “I bet you get a lot of scholarships.” “Fine,” I thought, “I can handle ignorance.” But the ignorance wasn’t limited to peers. It seemed the standard question every attending wanted to know was, “So what do your parents do?” I wanted to respond, “Does it matter what they do? What sort of biases will you introduce into your evaluation of me, and what does this have to do with my learning today?” Inevitably they’d go down the line where at least one student had a doctor in the family, and then they’d get to me. “Well, one’s an office manager, and one is a janitor.” Then, silence.


The other component I was completely ignorant of was that medicine has a culture of its own, vastly different than anything I’ve been around: hierarchical, paternalistic, and exclusionary. As a medical student, you were definitely at the bottom of the totem pole, and treated as such. There was the constant ‘pimping,’ being made to feel like you were the dumbest person on earth, never mind the male patients who called you nurse, never mind the nurses who didn’t want to work with you, or your peers who tried to out-do you. I was told “fake it till you make it”—this act of appearing confident and loud, when in fact I was scared to death of making the wrong decision that may affect a patient’s a life. I was not only an introvert, and a woman of color, but it turns out I suffered a major case of the impostor syndrome7 (no thanks to the lack of diversity in my peers and attendings), which turned out be the WRONG traits to have in medical school. And unlike my spiritual beliefs where health is about the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional, the system was not meant to engage the entire patient. We are busy, after all, and God forbid a patient wants to be social on morning rounds before I’ve completed my notes!


Eventually, I became stuck with two versions of myself: 1) the self who was tired, beaten, and just did the bare minimum to keep it together and survive, and 2) the self that still had a little bit of fight and remembered why she was so excited the day she got the phone call saying she got into medical school. Up until this point I used every chance I got to make my research projects and spare time about learning about the health status of my people, so that I could one day return and share my knowledge and skills. I also made it a point to stay grounded and remain present in my community, not just look down upon them from my ivory tower. Luckily my community was incredibly supportive throughout the process.


The only problem was, where I needed my community the most at that time, they simply were not there. The positive impacts of having Native role models at my institution, like someone who might have had shared research interests, someone to understand and be an advocate, someone who shares our perspective on health and wellness, someone with an innate understanding of the social determinants of health, someone with that good old native humor, were just not present in the confines of my medical school walls. I had to reach out beyond my university (which was fine), but it was all the more difficult. The reality is that some of these mentors already had full plates, likely paying the ‘minority tax’8, being the only natives at their respective institutions. Through this process, I learned to be persistent, resourceful, and how to network.


This is not to say that I didn’t have excellent non-Native mentors and teachers throughout my experience. Unfortunately, they happened to be the minority. And even though I wasn’t from the same type of families that my friends were from, their families sure took me in as their own, and still offer career advice to this day, if needed. As much as I can continue with the stories of how emotionally and spiritually draining medical school was (just ask my fiancé), I’d rather focus on the positive.


So to you, future doctor who may be feeling down in the dumps, this is what I’ve got: As angry, and sad, and alone as I felt about the lack of support, diversity, and twisted culture of medicine, I realized that the biggest barrier was myself. I became whole again, and I became determined when I realized that I did deserve to be there. Not only did I pass all the same exams and rotations, I had gifts, and a perspective, and a way with patients that my colleagues didn’t have, and couldn’t be taught.  I realized I had a voice, and it was powerful beyond measure. I didn’t take no for an answer. I knocked on doors, picked up phones, and created opportunities that weren’t there. I humbled myself and learned how to ask for help. I gave thanks where thanks was due.


Our medical schools are committed to supporting all students, and they value the diversity of perspectives that you bring.  Make sure to reach out and talk with someone – a peer, faculty member, and administrator – to support you along this medical school journey.  Focus on your strengths and build your networks, get involved at your school, and connect with your Organization of Student Representatives school’s designee (more information available at


Remember that the ‘underprivileged’ community from which you come is quite rich and greatly endowed with the gifts of culture, spirituality, and resilience. We are healers, and we are warriors.”


References at the en

1. Farrell H. Why are working class kids less likely to get elite jobs? They study too hard at college. (An interview with Lauren A. Rivera, the writer of Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs.) Washington Post. Sept 23, 2015.

2. AAMC 2014. Table 12: Applicants, First-Time Applicants, Acceptees, and Matriculants to U.S. Medical Schools 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 by Race/Ethnicity, 2013-2014 and 2014-201. Available at

3 . Hawkley, J T, Cacioppo, LC  Social Isolation and Health with an Emphasis on Underlying Mechanisms

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 2003, Summer 46, (3); S39-S52.

4. Boateng, BA, Thomas, B. How can we ease the social isolation of underrepresented minority students? Academic Medicine. 2011 Oct. 86 (1); 1190-92.

5. Hollow WB, Patterson, DG, Olsen, PM, Baldwin, L. American Indians and Alaska Natives: How do they find their path to medical school?  University of Washington; WWAMI Center for Health Workforce Studies.  2014, January. Available at

6. Kalishman, S, Padilla, S, Devoe, P, Baca, P. Using Lessons from American Indian Health Professionals at a Health Science Center.  Academic Medicine, 76 (5); 500-01.

7.  Young, V. The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why capable people suffer from the impostor syndrome and how to survive in spite of it. Random House Publishing. 2011.

8. Rodríguez JE, Campbell KM, Pololi LH. Addressing disparities in academic medicine: what of the minority tax? BMC Med Educ. 2015 Feb 1;15:6.

Duluth Chapter Update

This past year, the University of Minnesota- Duluth ANAMS Chapter participated in many community events. We had a table at the Duluth’s AISES Round Dance and were able to connect with community members and college students. The chapter  also participated in the  Ojibwe Storytelling event  held by Duluth’s  Anishinaabe Student Organization.  The new chapter president is Aaron Smith, a second year medical student and member of the Navajo Nation. Aaron plans to connect with the Native American youth in Duluth, and build relationships with community members. Additionally he hopes to support Duluth ANAMS members by providing information on scholarships, research opportunities and summer programs. The Duluth chapter is also very fortunate to have a great mentor and AAIP member, Dr. Mary Owen, who has been with us for a year now. She has helped to guide ANAMS members both academically and professionally. 

ANAMS Mentorship Program
Hello, my name is Natalie Krier. I am a 4th year at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and I am currently serving as your Mentoring Program Chair. We are currently updating our mentor list, and it will soon be available. Please be on the lookout if you are interested in having a mentor. We are also considering expanding the Mentorship Program to pre-professional students, to be paired with current ANAMS members.
Please include the following information in your e-mail:
A.  Name
B. Tribal affiliation
C. Specialty/Area of special interest or research
D. E-mail
E. Phone number
F. Address (work or home)
G. Undergraduate/Graduate school
H. Medical school (or anticipated medical school)
I. What you are looking for in a mentor (Example: same tribe, same specialty area, living in an area you are interested in, same medical school, etc)
2015-2016 Residency Couch Surf Program
This is a user-based volunteer hosting program where ANAMS members can volunteer use of their couch/spare bedroom to host a 4th year ANAMS student who is interviewing in their city. As you may  know, the costs of applying to residency are staggering, and between $5-10,000 when including flight and hotel accommodations. Participating in this program would help alleviate this cost. Again- this is completely voluntary, however if you expect to surf other's' couches, I would strongly consider returning the favor! Currently we have 18 participants representing 17 cities across the US.
  1. Send ( the following information if you wish to participate.
    1. Name
    2. State, City
    3. Cell/email contact
    4. Amenities (is it a couch, spare bedroom etc),
    5. cats/dogs/pets (for allergies)
    6. MISC info (whatever is important you feel to know).
National Association of Native American Studies Announcements: 
  • Annual Conference is being held in Baton Rouge February 8-13th 2016. There is currently a call for student abstracts/presentations and a Student Research Competition with a potential to win up to $1000. See below links for more information. 
    • for more information regarding this opportunity. 
2015-2016 ANAMS Executive Board
President: Paul Blackcloud (
President-Elect: Aaron Robinson (
Treasurer: Tyson Burning (
Secretary: Cassandra Rendon (
West Regional Rep: Kirsten Concha-Moore (
Central RR: Justin Meyers (
Northeast RR: Jessie Buck (
Membership Coordinator: Matt Murphy (
Mentorship Program: Natalie Krier (
Member-at-Large: Stefanie Gillson (
Member-at-Large: Ryan Buckley (

Copyright © 2015 ANAMS, All rights reserved.
Fall 2015 ANAMS Newsletter
Our mailing address is:
1255 Sovereign Row, Suite 103
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  73108
Tel: (405) 946-7072
Fax: (405) 946-7651