Native Americans Start Summer Break in the Lab

By Paige Browning

Native Americans have a statistically low presence in the health care profession, so for the past 19 years, a WSU educator has worked to change that. This month is her annual institute in Spokane for teens interested in health sciences.
 
It’s a sunny day in June, but 23 high school students are in the classroom at WSU Spokane. They’re attending the 12 day Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Science Institute, a program started in 1995 by Robbie Paul.
 
Paul: “So we have a pharmacy lab, we have a cadaver lab, they have environmental health science, and they had CPR/First Aid training already.”
 
They also learn infant and child first aid, and DNA testing. Paul says the workforce of native health professionals is slim. Through this program, she is proud of several success stories.
 
Paul: “In fact, one of my camp students just graduated with her MD, may 22nd.”
 
She says as for a PhD in Nursing, only 18 Native Americans nationwide have obtained one. Part of her goal is getting Native Americans with health knowledge working within native communities. And this year, those communities reach all the way to Winslow, Arizona. Ami Begay is a high schooler there, and found out about the WSU Spokane camp online.
 
Begay: “I want to be a pediatric nurse so the baby part was pretty fun. And I actually got certified for first aid, so I was pretty proud of that.”
 
She is full Navajo, and says she wants to come up to Washington for college.
 
Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio
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