A researcher with the UNBC Northern Medical Program has received just under $149,500 to study the lack of indigenous peoples in the healthcare field in Northern BC.

Dr. Sarah de Leeuw says there is a well documented shortage of First Nations entering healthcare. Her work will try to examine why that is, and where indigenous healthcare workers end up practicing medicine after exiting school.

She says there is a bit of a gap in the data right now, and they would like to find ways to keep indigenous healthcare workers in the north.

“The truth is, I don’t think we really know the full spectrum of even the question about how it is to make the employment sector more conducive to indigenous people and indigenous ways of thinking about issues.”

De Leeuw’s research team will also attempt to determine if the healthcare field in Northern BC would be made more attractive to First Nations people by making it more culturally sensitive.

“If we could poll various different indigenous organizations doing healthcare sector work and say; ‘how can we strengthen the work you are already doing to make more indigenous people more conformable in healthcare employment in Northern BC.”

She says those improvements for the staff, would also likely improve the experience for the patients as well.

This first batch of funding is essentially for a pilot project, which de Leeuw will hope to grow into a full seven year study.