Strengthening partnerships between Schulich Medicine and London’s First Nations communities

Adrean Angles

Adrean Angles, Master of Public Health Program Class of 2015, has a special connection to the Indigenous communities in Southwestern Ontario.

Born and raised in London, Angles is First Nations from Oneida Nation of the Thames and Chippewa of the Thames. He is using this personal connection, as well as his passion for the field of medicine, as motivation to help make a difference at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

Angles decided to complete his 12-week practicum with Undergraduate Medical Education’s (UME) Admissions Office, specifically working toward developing the best practices for recruiting and retaining Indigenous medical students.

“It’s recognized across Canada that medical schools are facing low admission rates for Indigenous students, and unfortunately Schulich Medicine & Dentistry isn’t currently meeting its goals,” Angles said. “They brought me onto their team to help identify ways to improve these rates, and to build a stronger relationship with the Indigenous communities in the area.”

Throughout his practicum, Angles will have the opportunity to apply some of the research skills the MPH program has taught him. By reading literature on the subject, and interviewing people in the aboriginal communities, he will develop a report by the end of the term based on his recommendations, findings and observations.

“From Adrean’s examination of barriers to medical school for Indigenous youth, we will have a more informed understanding of how to better engage, encourage and nurture these future students in a culturally safe admissions process,” said Dr. Robert Hammond, Assistant Dean, UME Admissions Office.

Dr. Hammond added that this practicum provides an uncommon opportunity, because Adrean is a gifted and passionate student who offers an unusual combination of perspectives: graduate training in public health coupled with his Indigenous heritage and the credibility he provides.

One recommendation Angles already has for the Admissions Office is to target those interested in the field of medicine at a younger age, and to provide those potential students with role models. He also suggests not only speaking with First Nations medical students about what pushed them in that direction, but also with the First Nations people who thought about going to medical school, but didn’t follow through.

“During my studies in the MPH program, I recognized disparities and challenges that Indigenous people face,” Angles said. “I feel like this practicum is giving me an opportunity to make some sort of change in that area, even if it’s a small one.”

Angles is thankful the MPH program provides students with the opportunity to complete relevant placements like his, as it will help him in his future career. Once he graduates from the program, he will be focusing on finding a job in the public health field and studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which he is writing in early September.

“By going through the MCAT process myself right now, it only furthers my understanding of the barriers First Nations people face in order to achieve their goals,” he said. “I’m fortunate that I have these opportunities to take prep courses and write the test, because not everyone does. I want to help change that.”