Indian Health Pathway

The Indian Health Pathway (IHP) provides an avenue for active Native medical students at the University of Washington to stay connected to their community. Enhancing opportunities for Native and non-Native medical students alike to learn how to integrate American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) patients’ cultural, spiritual and traditional needs into healthcare.

The Indian Health Pathway is under the direction of Jason Deen, MD, (Blackfeet). Dr. Deen is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington Medical Center, respectively, in the Divisions of Cardiology.  He is a graduate of the IHP through the Center of American Indian and Minority Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School.  He is an active participant in the Strong Heart Study, a large epidemiologic study of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in reservation-bound American Indians.  Dr. Deen’s main research interest is cardiovascular health disparities in American Indian communities and cardiovascular risk stratification in American Indian youth.

History and Vision

American Indian/Alaska Native communities are some of the most underserved minority groups in the nation. The IHP provides medical students with the necessary information and experiences to make them better practitioners in urban and reservation-based AI/AN communities.

IHP was established in 1992 through the leadership and efforts of Dr. Walt Hollow (Assiniboine-Sioux), the first Native American to graduate from the medical school. The IHP provides a unique educational experience for medical students to learn how to provide culturally proficient care for AI/AN patients through the use of specialized lecture series, community events, immersion clinical experiences in medical practices that serve the AI/AN communities, and other opportunities to participate in the practices and traditions that are core to the AI/AN ways of life. IHP is also unique in that it utilizes a number of AI/AN faculty and community leaders who have had a vast amount of collective experience in working directly with Native populations to teach these components.

Learning Goals and Objectives

  • Prepare both Native and non-Native medical students for careers in AI/AN health
  • Encourage research on AI/AN health issues
  • Enhance curriculum on AI/AN health issues at the University of Washington School of Medicine

Pathway Requirements Overview


I. University Conjoint 530 (Required Course)

Indian Health Issues: Past, Present, and Future  (2 credits)

Health professionals present on topics such as Traditional Medicine, Paleopathology, urban/ reservation Indian health care, mental health, Indian Health Service Policies, and more. This course is offered every winter quarter.

To be eligible for fourth year IHP clerkships, student must complete this course requirement by the third year

II. Scholarly Project, III or Literature Review Option Prior to Third Year

Focused on a health issue affecting American Indian/Alaska Native population(s), often completed as an Independent Investigative Inquiry (III), MSRTP or other research project (i.e. a Lit review paper) with a focus on American Indian/Alaska Native health. 

To be eligible for IHP clerkships, student must complete this requirement by the third year

III. Fourth Year Required IHP Clerkship(s) 

Successful completion of clerkships (4 weeks each) in the following areas:

  • PEDS 609 & 610 Completed in the last year as an elective rotation.
  • PEDS 609 Indian Health Clerkship (work with pathway coordinator if there are alternate rotations that may be taken in lieu of PEDS 609) 
  • PEDS 610 working with Traditional Indian Medicine preceptor(s)
  • In order to register, permission of the Indian Health Pathway Director, Multicultural Education Manager, and rotation preceptor is required.  Please contact clerkship coordinator Holly Kennison for permission.

PLEASE NOTE: For students who have completed requirements I through III, there will be an interview with the IHP director during their third year to review progress in the pathway and to consider the student’s eligibility to complete the IHP. Students who have not completed requirements I through III will not be eligible to complete the fourth year FAMED 681 and FAMED 680 rotations.

IV. Community Engagement/ Service Learning

Participation and engagement with the Native community through the Office of Healthcare Equity, Medicine Wheel Society, AAIP, IWRI, or other venues.

Upon completion of the requirements, the student will be awarded an IHP pathway certificate and be recognized of this honor and the IHP Blanket Ceremony

For more information contact:

Dr. Jason Deen

About Our Logo

The logo was originally created for the Native American Center of Excellence (NACOE) by Artist and Storyteller Roger Fernandez. It was designed to represent the cultures of the Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

The overall circular shape of the design can represent either a spindle whorl, used by the Coast Salish tribes, or a hoop or shield, used by the Plateau and Plains cultures. The design running vertically through the center of the circle in a parfleche design is from the Plateau/Plains cultures.

In each half of the circle are eagle designs from the north and south of the Pacific Northwest Coast region. At the bottom of the circle are two eagle feathers. The eagle imagery is symbolic of protection of the physical and spiritual aspects of Native culture.

Medicine Wheel Society

The Medicine Wheel Society (MWS) is an organization dedicated to promoting American Indian/Alaska Native/Indigenous culture, education, and advancement in health care and diversity in medicine. It is open to all University of Washington students – American Indian/Alaska Native/Indigenous and Non-Native students.

MWS brings together the people, traditions, customs, and the spirit which enable our AI/AN/Indigenous students to maintain their sense of community while in medical school.

Our Goals:

  • Plan and participate in AI/AN community events
  • Inspire AI/AN/Indigenous and underrepresented minority youth to enter a career in medicine through mentorship
  • Support AI/AN pre-medical and dental students through pipeline programs
  • Promote survival skills and wellness in health professional school
  • Sharing tribal customs
  • Incorporation of Traditional Medicine into Western medical practice
  • Seek support from AI/AN UW associated health professionals for members
  • Plan and attend forums to discuss AI/AN/Indigenous health concerns and problems
  • Attend medical conference

About Our Logo

Mouse Woman is a respected character in Tsimshin legends. She can either appear as a mouse or the teeniest of Grandmothers. She is a figure who often aids people in peril, taking small compensation for the help she gives. – John Sixbey

For information and news about Medicine Wheel Society, find us on Facebook.