Medical programmes across Canada recognise the increased need for Aboriginal doctors. This study aimed to determine Canadian medical programmes' commitment towards Aboriginal health issues, recruitment, admission policies, educational opportunities and support offered to Aboriginal medical undergraduate students.
Medical school websites were initially reviewed to identify recruitment initiatives, admission policies and curriculum activities related to Aboriginal health. A questionnaire was sent to each dean of medicine to collect additional data on the programmes' recruitment strategies, admission policies, educational opportunities and the type of support offered to Aboriginal medical students.
Sixteen medical programmes completed the questionnaire (return rate = 100%). There were 56 Aboriginal medical students enrolled across these medical programmes. More than 75% of students were completing their training in a western province. Over half of the medical programmes had recruitment initiatives and admission policies specific to Aboriginal applicants and the majority reported that their programmes' curricula included learning objectives specific to Aboriginal health. Most offered lectures and training opportunities to medical students and few offered core curriculum activities focusing on Aboriginal health.
This descriptive paper offers a snapshot of initiatives across medical programmes aimed at increasing the number of Aboriginal applicants and medical students and at supporting their journeys towards the attainment of medical degrees. More research is needed to evaluate these initiatives' effectiveness. The results of such studies would not only provide needed information aimed at meeting the specific health needs of Aboriginal people, but may also contribute towards the laying of a framework to help narrow the gaps that exist within health care delivery to other minority groups.