AKWESASNE WELCOMES FUTURE DOCTORS
Since August of 2017, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne's Department of Health has served as
an educational site for future doctors.
Through MCA’s Dept. of Health and Wholistic Health & Wellness Program, which encompasses
the medical clinics, doctors, and Traditional Medicine unit, McGill University in Montreal has
been able to give their medical students first-hand experience in a First Nation. Two of MCA’s
doctors, Dr. Horn and Dr. Saylor, have been supporting McGill’s endeavors to expand the
university’s teachings to include more about First Nations medical care.
“For us it’s a win-win, because we know that the best way to recruit more doctors is to bring
them here when they are students,” said Dr. Horn who has been mentoring the students. “McGill
has put a lot of energy into improving their medical program’s aboriginal health and history
Beginning last August, students have been placed in Akwesasne to spend up to a month working
daily in the community, shadowing Dr. Horn and Dr. Saylor, as well as the staff of Traditional
Medicine and Home Care/Home Support. The experiences give them first-hand knowledge and
understanding of a First Nation and any special circumstances or cultural components that arise
while providing healthcare.
Currently, three medical students are completing their “rural elective” here in Akwesasne and all
three are First Nations themselves. While the elective program is based out of McGill University,
medical students from across Canada can register through the program. The current students
are from McGill and Ottawa University, and the next group will include a Queens University
Dr. Horn has been teaching medical students in some capacity for ten years and enjoys giving the
time to help recruit more doctors to serve First Nations communities.
“We need doctors everywhere, in every community,” she said. “So, the recruitment is a big
component for us. Here in Akwesasne we have a strong Traditional Medicine aspect that is
supported by the medical field, which is rare, so these students get to experience that.”
The students are completing their basic four years of medical school and when complete they
will choose their specialization or field of practice. It’s MCA’s hope that some of them will have
developed a keen interest and passion for providing healthcare in Akwesasne and will return to
serve the community professionally.