Health care summit draws scores of American Indian youth to learn about medical careers

Organizers said 23 tribes from Minnesota and Wisconsin were represented. Such inclusion is crucial to Dr. Thomas Wyatt, Hennepin Healthcare’s senior medical director and a member of the Shawnee and Quapaw tribes. Wyatt said many of the young people had never seen an American Indian like him in the medical profession. They are not alone.

“There’s between five and six million doctors in the U.S., and 4,000 of them are indigenous,” said Wyatt.

Aida Strom, Hennepin Healthcare’s health equity community engagement program manager and a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Nation, said such disparities result in worse health outcomes for American Indians. Strom said Hennepin Healthcare serves the most Indigenous hospital patients in Minnesota, but more work could be done.