An Alaska Medical School Has a Record Number of Indigenous Students. That Number is 3.
October 31, 2022
Across the nation, medical schools are seeing a drop in already low enrollment numbers for Native students. A medical school program in Alaska is doubling down on its efforts to bolster its Indigenous student body through early outreach, relationship building in tribal communities, and inviting Indigenous alumni to serve as mentors.
When Dr. Elise Pletnikoff (The Sun'aq Tribe of Kodiak) attended medical school from 2006 to 2010, she could not imagine what an Alaska Native female physician might even look like. The idea of what it meant to look "professional" was vague to Pletnikoff, who grew up doing commercial fishing with her father near Kodiak Island, southwest of Anchorage.
"A young, Native female - that look carries just as much intelligence and belonging in the healthcare system as we more traditionally might think of as a physician," Pletnikoff, now a family medicine doctor in her hometown, Kodiak, told Native News Online. "That was just not something I had exposure to."