Residents' exposure to aboriginal health issues. Survey of family medicine programs in Canada.
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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether Canadian family medicine residency programs currently have objectives, staff, and clinical experiences for adequately exposing residents to aboriginal health issues. DESIGN: A one-page questionnaire was developed to survey the details of teaching about and exposure to aboriginal health issues. SETTING: Family medicine programs in Canada. PARTICIPANTS: All Canadian family medicine program directors in the 18 programs (16 at universities and two satellite programs) were surveyed between October 1997 and March 1998. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Whether programs had teaching objectives for exposing residents to aboriginal health issues, whether they had resource people available, what elective and core experiences in aboriginal health were offered, and what types of experiences were available. RESULTS: Response rate was 100%. No programs had formal, written curriculum objectives for residency training in aboriginal health issues, although some were considering them. Some programs, however, had objectives for specific weekend or day sessions. No programs had a strategy for encouraging enrollment of residents of aboriginal origin. Eleven programs had at least one resource person with experience in aboriginal health issues, and 12 had access to community-based aboriginal groups. Core experiences were all weekend seminars or retreats. Elective experiences in aboriginal health were available in 16 programs, and 11 programs were active on reserves. CONCLUSIONS: Many Canadian family medicine programs give residents some exposure to aboriginal health issues, but most need more expertise and direction on these issues. Some programs have unique approaches to teaching aboriginal health care that could be shared. Formalized objectives derived in collaboration with other family medicine programs and aboriginal groups could substantially improve the quality of education in aboriginal health care in Canada.
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