Acoma Pueblo, NM – Health professions students from across the U.S. are gathering here this weekend to participate in the Native Health Initiative’s (NHI) Indigenous Health Leadership Institute (IHLI) immersion into indigenous culture and health.
Now in its eighth year, the organization’s goal is to educate health professions students in a culturally respectful way, and encourage them to become interested in working with indigenous communities, says Anthony Fleg, MD, MPH, a family physician with the UNM Department of Family and Community Medicine. Fleg also is a co-founder of NHI and is helping to lead the innovative health professions workshop from this week.
“We believe training students within the tenets of NHI’s work - humility, love and an understanding and the knowledge that communities know best how to solve their health and social problems - leads to more students staying and working in indigenous communities,” says Fleg.
“We like to say that IHLI is everything you can’t learn in a book,” adds NHI Partnership Director Shannon Fleg (Dine’).
The UNM Health Sciences Center Office of Diversity, School of Medicine, Physicians Assistant Program, Student Nursing Association and American Medical Student Association, among other UNM programs, have worked with the NHI since its founding in 2008. This partnership philosophy addresses health inequities through “loving service,” which funds its work through volunteerism instead of monetary donations. As an example, the NHI’s budget for the three-day event was 2,100 hours of loving service (equivalent to one person working full-time for an entire year), and $1,200.
The event is part of National Public Health Week, and is being co-sponsored by the Center for Native American Integrative Healing, Tonantzin Traditional Healing and the Pueblo of Acoma Learning Center.