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UND Indians Into Medicine program announces $1 million comprehensive campaign

Fundraising effort through April 2023 represents the largest of its kind for Indigenous medical education

Timed to coincide with INMED’s 50-year anniversary in 2022-23, a new campaign hopes to generate funds that will directly support many of INMED’s various programs. With a $1 million goal, it is the largest campaign of its kind for Indigenous medical education. Photo by Devin Durant/UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

The Indians Into Medicine (INMED) program at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) is kicking off a $1 million comprehensive campaign, the largest campaign of its kind for Indigenous medical education.

“For nearly 50 years this program has led the nation in training Indigenous physicians,” said INMED Director Dr. Don Warne, referencing the persistent notion that American Indian students are given free education at public universities. “Unless our students are offered one of a limited number of scholarships, most of which only go so far, they pay full tuition like everyone else. So, we’re always looking for ways to be more efficient in our operations and expand our base of supporters. This campaign will help us do both.”

Alexandria McLearen is one of those future physicians who benefited from INMED’s many programs even before entering an M.D. program.

“When I matriculated at UND, I felt like a fish out of water,” admitted McLearen, who came to UND from Anchorage, Ak. “I didn’t know what I was doing or even how I was going to survive, but my INMED classmates and the INMED staff squeezed my hand and reassured me I could do it and they would help me.”

McLearen’s colleague Megan Corn agreed.

“Alex and I can actually thank the INMED program for our friendship,” laughed the Oklahoma native who suggested that the social support INMED offers students is as valuable as its academic programs—if not more so. “Aside from the social support INMED offers, the faculty and staff are also advocating for us at every turn and helping us be as prepared as we can be for Step exams, shelf exams, and pre-clerkship exams. The INMED faculty have helped me at the drop of a hat when I reached out, and always go above and beyond.”

Timed to coincide with the program’s 50-year anniversary in 2022-23, the comprehensive campaign hopes to generate funds that will directly support many of INMED’s various programs. These programs provide not only direct support to Indigenous M.D. and other health professions students at UND, but pre-college students and instructors through programs such as:

  • Summer Institute (SI), a program wherein students in grades 7-12 live together on the UND campus as they learn about science and healthcare. SI gives Indigenous students access to programs and facilities like a tour of an Indian Health Service clinic, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and a character-building ropes course.
  • Med Prep, a summer program for American Indian college upperclassmen and graduates who are preparing to take or retake the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and apply to medical school. Program costs include faculty time, test prep materials, and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) practice exams.
  • Career and Life Instruction for Matriculation Building (CLIMB), is a summer program for incoming INMED medical students designed to assist new medical students to acclimate to the rigors and culture of medical school and develop a sense of community prior to the start of classes. Educational activities and sessions include an introduction to the curriculum, library resources and research skills, financial literacy, study skills, wellness strategies, biochemistry review, and tours of the medical school and community.
  • Native Educator University Research Opportunity in Neuroscience (NEURO), a professional development program for high school teachers that places teachers in a UND Department of Biomedical Sciences research laboratory at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences. This comprehensive professional development program aims to build on and improve teachers’ understanding of the scientific process and support their science pedagogy in an effort to provide learning environments for American Indian students that foster scientific inquiry and promote the attainment of careers in health care.

“We are thrilled to partner with the INMED program on this important campaign,” added DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation (AAF). “UND alumni and friends have been great supporters of the program over the past 50 years. I believe we will see an enthusiastic response to this fundraising effort.”

Photo courtesy of UND School of Medicine & Heath Sciences.

Founded in 1973, The UND Indians Into Medicine Program was one of the first university-based programs in the nation dedicated to cultivating and producing Indigenous physicians and other health providers. In 50 years the program has graduated nearly 300 American Indian/Alaska Native physicians and countless other health providers: physical and occupational therapists, medical laboratory scientists, physician assistants, and public health professionals.

“It is our goal to put INMED in the best position to assist our students with all of their needs during their academic career at UND,” said Dr. Daniel Henry, co-director of INMED. “We assist our students with technology needs, test prep, skill‐building, textbooks, mentorship, shadowing, research opportunities, and much more. And all of this is getting more expensive, all the time.”

The campaign will run through April 20, 2023, at which time the campaign ends with a celebration at the 2023 Time Out Wacipi powwow event on the UND campus.

“It was during the MCAT prep program that I first truly felt like I could envision myself as a medical student, because I had, for the first time in my life, met Indigenous medical students and doctors,” concluded McLearen. “Until then, I was walking down the path without any guidance or support, not expecting to really make it to an MD program. INMED has been the key to my success since before I even applied to medical school.”

Persons interested in contributing to the campaign can contact Jeff Dodson, the AAF director of development at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences, at jeffd@UNDfoundation.org or 701.777.5512.

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About the author

Brian SchillBrian James Schill is director of the Office of Alumni and Community Relations at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences.