Closing the Loop: Navajo Nation
President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez stand beside Navajo medical student, Shannon Zullo. (Photo: Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship & Financial Assistance)
In 2016, seeking to address a critical shortage of qualified Navajo physicians to take care of its growing population, the Navajo Nation forged an MOU with the University of Arizona’s Colleges of Medicine (UA) to create the Navajo Nation Future Physicians’ Scholarship Fund. The agreement, which can be renewed after six years, gives financial aid (provided by Navajo with matching funds from UA) to fully cover the tuition, fees, and academic support costs for up to seven Navajo scholars each year as they work towards obtaining a medical degree. Those scholars who complete the program are then required to “repay” the Nation by returning to the reservation to serve the Navajo people for at least five years once they complete their post-degree medical residency programs. As UA sees Navajo’s commitment, “They are investing in you, and the way that you can repay them is [by] serving the community.” According to Navajo, “This agreement is historic for us. We have never had a relationship with any medical school anywhere in the country.” To further address the underrepresentation of Navajos in the medical field, Navajo Technical Institute (NTI) is launching a partnership with UA to expand NTI’s healthcare professional programs for Navajo students.
CONNECT: Rose Graham, Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship & Financial Assistance, firstname.lastname@example.org
Workforce Development: NAVAJO NATION
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