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National Center for American Indian Health Professions

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National Center for American Indian Health Professions

The American Indian and Alaska Native communities are among the most underserved in terms of healthcare. To help address this great need and building on its long tradition of working closely with these communities, A.T. Still University (ATSU) created the National Center for American Indian Health Professions (NCAIHP) as a way to develop outreach to American Indian and Alaska Native high school and college students, with the goal of sparking interest in healthcare careers.

The NCAIHP provides prospective American Indian and Alaska Native students with healthcare career advising, assistance with admissions applications, financial advising, academic support, and more. The NCAIHP is dedicated to helping American Indians and Alaska Natives to become physicians, dentists, physician assistants, and other healthcare professionals.

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, founder of osteopathic medicine and ATSU, of mixed American Indian heritage was influenced by the healing traditions of the local Shawnee Indians in Kansas. In 1835, Dr. Still learned the native Shawnee language while assisting his father in treating the Shawnee Indians at the Wakarusa Mission in Kansas. In 1892, when Dr. Still opened what is now ATSU, he used the simplicity of the Shawnee communication of “objects not words” to take an Indian approach to teaching by deep observation without the distraction of language. Dr. Still’s founding concepts of body, mind, and spirit along with the body’s natural ability to heal itself remain closely aligned with American Indian and Alaska Native traditional healing.

Current American Indian and Alaska Native students attending ATSU benefit from academic and personal support, cultural connectivity and mentorship through the NCAIHP. By working closely with academic programs, the NCAIHP serves to provide students with the opportunities to successfully complete their education and, in turn, provide healthcare services to underserved communities.

The NCAIHP offers a mentor program connecting high school and college students to ATSU alumni who can answer questions and help find volunteer opportunities in healthcare. Alumni are also invited back to campus as both honored speakers and guests for continuing education opportunities.

From admissions to graduation and beyond, the NCAIHP serves all American Indian and Alaskan Native students needing and seeking support to become academically and personally successful at ATSU.

  • Academic programs +

    • ATSU offers master’s and doctorate-level health professional degrees on both the Mesa, Arizona campus and Kirksville, Missouri campus as well as online. Review academic program listing

      Request information

      Questions about ATSU’s programs, admission requirements and cost? Email ncaihp@atsu.edu or call 480.219.6108 for more information.

  • Funding resources +

    • Graduate school is an investment in the future of the student and of the community. Although most graduate students take out federal loans to cover their tuition and living expenses, the following resources can specifically assist American Indian and Alaska Native students:

  • Connect to a mentor +

    • Curious about a healthcare career? What better way to learn about a student’s journey than to talk with someone who already completed their education. The NCAIHP can connect you to an ATSU alumni to answer your questions about continuing your education or help find volunteer opportunities in the healthcare field.

      Email ncaihp@atsu.edu and we’ll connect you to an ATSU alumni.

  • Outside the classroom +

    • American Indian and Alaska Native students at ATSU actively participate in extra-curricular events both on and off-campus. Opportunities include:

      • Student clubs specifically for American Indian and Alaska Native students
      • Talking Circles sponsored by NCAIHP
      • Cultural events
      • Healthcare educational events at local tribal reservations
      • First Fridays at the Heard Museum
      • American Indian healthcare guest speaker

  • ATSU's American Indian heritage +

    • Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO—Hoconethowa

      Andrew Taylor StillDr. Andrew Taylor Still is the father of osteopathic medicine and founder of ATSU. He believed healing had to be a mind-body-spirit connection, much like the philosophy of the American Indian Medicine Wheel. Dr. Still’s approach to medicine was a revolutionary concept in his time that spread worldwide. It was influenced by his years of living among the Shawnee Indians. He went by the name, “Hoconethowa”, a Shawnee name given to him, meaning healer.

      William C. Blueskye, DO, ATSU-KCOM Class of ’54, Seneca

      William Buckeye, , DO ’54William C. Blueskye, DO ’54, was the first documented American Indian, Onöndowa’ga:’ (Seneca Indian) to graduate with a doctor of osteopathic medicine from Kirksville College of Osteopathy and Surgery (now ATSU-KCOM). Dr. Blueskye practiced in Mentor, Ohio.

      George Blue Spruce Jr., DDS, MPH, Laguna/Ohkay-Owingeh

      George Blue Spruce, Jr., DDS, MPHGeorge Blue Spruce Jr., DDS, MPH, an enrolled member of the Pueblo Tribe (Laguna/Ohkay-Owingeh) is the first recognized American Indian dentist. Dr. Blue Spruce was also the first American Indian dentist to be given the title of Assistant Surgeon General. Although he officially retired in 1986, he has continued to work hard to enhance the health of American Indian people and to encourage Indian people to become dentists as well as leaders in the other health professions.

      In 1990, he was instrumental in founding the Society of American Indian Dentists. Today, he is assistant dean for American Indian Affairs at ATSU’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health located in Mesa, Ariz.. Recently, ATSU renamed its Hero Healers speaker’s forum the Dr. George Blue Spruce Hero Healers.

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