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University of Montana - Native American Center of Excellence

University of Montana - Native American Center of Excellence

The mission of the Native American Center of Excellence (NACOE) at the University of Montana College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences is to facilitate the identification, recruitment, retention, and professional development of American Indian/Alaska Native students who are interested in pursuing careers in pharmacy and/or health care delivery. Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the NACOE offers a wide variety of activities and programs that contribute to the students' overall academic success, performance and development. NACOE is also dedicated to increasing the number of American Indian faculty members in schools of pharmacy and the pharmaceutical sciences.

 

 

Why we do what we do:

 

• Native Americans and Alaska Natives remain the most poorly served racial minority group in the American educational system.

• Currently, over half of the NA/AN population is under 20 years old; there is HUGE opportunity in this statistic

• Low enrollment at the University of Montana, not high attrition, is the most significant factor in the small number of NA/AN pharmacy graduates.

• Most students moving from very rural areas to Missoula will experience a major culture shock. Students are often homesick until they find a support system that serves as their home away from home for cultural events.

• There are a small number of Native Americans pursuing advanced degrees in pharmacy, which results in a limited number of NA/AN role models for students considering pharmacy. We hope to increase the number of NA/AN role models at the University of Montana.

• Only four other states have a percentage of Native Americans greater than Montana. The majority of Native Americans in Montana live on the State’s seven reservations; the rest are spread out in urban areas and represent 10 different tribes with 11 distinct languages: Blackfeet, Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Assiniboine, Cree, Chippewa, Sioux, Gros Ventre, Salish, and Kootenai.

• NA/ANs face much higher levels of certain health risks than their non-Indian peers do. Thus, AN/NA health professionals are needed to provide education and care for their people.

• Except for the University of Montana’s programs, there are no Native American COE-funded programs for students in pharmacy in the northwest states between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Seattle, Washington, an east-west distance of 1600 miles. The need is apparent.

• Further attesting to rural needs, 93% of Montana’s counties have been designated at Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) the majority of which are also designated federally as Medically Under-Served Areas (DPHHS website).

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