A diverse physician workforce improves patient satisfaction, trust and adherence; provides critical access in medically underserved areas; and reduces long-standing health disparities in marginalized communities. With American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) populations facing significant health disparities, there is great urgency to identify pre-med students with significant ties to AIAN communities and train culturally proficient physicians committed to practicing medicine in these areas of need. To provide California’s tribal communities equitable and culturally sensitive health care, we must eliminate barriers for promising AIAN pre-medical scholars and build pathways between UC Davis and the many Tribal communities who have inhabited this region for generations.

The UC Davis Tribal Health PRIME Community Health Scholars Program is designed to provide students with the appropriate knowledge and skills to practice medicine in California’s urban and rural tribal communities. UC Davis aims to partner with communities to recruit and support students on their journey to careers in medicine. Community health and education leaders may identify and support promising pre-health students by submitting a letter of recommendation for their application to medical school at UC Davis. IHP scholars will matriculate to UC Davis medical school through the traditional pathway, the Wy’East pathway, and other targeted pre-medical recruitment efforts with regional tribal communities.

The Wy’East pathway is 10-month post-baccalaureate program administered by Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) that prepares AIAN students from federally recognized tribes to successfully enter and complete medical school. It is a partnership between UC Davis, OHSU, and Washington State University. Upon successful completion of Wy’East, participants are guaranteed admission to one of the three participating medical schools. The goal for Wy’East scholars from Northern California is to eventually provide care to the region’s tribal communities.