After months of meetings and preparations, the All Pueblo Council of Governors have officially signed a resolution in support of the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (BCOM) initiatives. The All Pueblo Council of Governors represents the 19 American Indian Tribal Pueblos in New Mexico, as well as Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo in El Paso.
BCOM Chief of Staff and Assistant Dean for Multicultural Inclusion Justin McHorse led the efforts to get the joint resolution signed, starting back in October when he, the school’s Founding Dean George Mychaskiw II, DO, and Governmental Affairs Liaison Pilar Faulkner presented to the All Pueblo Council of Governors at the Santa Fe Indian School. “Often times organizations or institutions will proceed with their own agendas without bothering to engage with the Tribal Nations who will be directly affected by their actions,” said McHorse, who is also a tribal member of Taos Pueblo. “One of our main objectives was to approach the Council with the respect they deserve and let them know that we are actively including them as we move forward with our goals at BCOM.”
Part of BCOM’s mission is to address the health needs of Native American populations in this region. The resolution affirms commitment on both parties to develop clinical training opportunities for BCOM students at Pueblo Health facilities and Indian Health Service facilities. This is the first step in ensuring that the medical students will have opportunities to work closely with the American Indian tribes while they fulfill their required clerkships during their third and fourth years of schooling and when they enter into residency positions after graduation.
This resolution also paves the way for pathways programs that will encourage and mentor young tribal members who may be interested in pursuing a career in medicine. One of the major issues the Pueblos are dealing with is a lack of consistent care. Many of their healthcare facilities have trouble retaining physicians who often fulfill a two- or three-year service requirement before moving on.
“At BCOM, we’re trying to develop more Native American physicians who will be more likely to return to their Pueblo and practice medicine after graduation. These students will have a more effective understanding of the culture and customs and thus be better able to make those deeper connections of trust that a good doctor patient relationship is based on. They’ll also be more invested in the community and have that desire to live, work, and make a difference there,” McHorse said.
The resolution also lays out BCOM’s dedication to providing equitable access to medical care for rural and tribal communities, and establishes BCOM’s commitment to providing scholarship support to students of need from the Pueblos who are admitted and enrolled at the medical school.
In signing the resolution, the All Pueblo Council of Governors also endorsed their support for the Osteopathic Loan for Service funding legislation which will help alleviate the high cost of medical school tuition for BCOM students who commit to practicing in a New Mexico health professional shortage area.