Oregon Bill Would Cover Tuition for Qualifying Native Medical Students

A bill making its way through the Oregon legislature aims to make medical careers more accessible to aspiring Native American students in rural, Tribal communities across the state.

Oregon Senator Bill Hansell proposed Senate Bill 293. If passed, students could apply for an Indian Health Scholarship Program providing free tuition and fees through Oregon Health and Science University. Post-graduation, scholarship students would commit to working at Tribal service sites for the same number of years that the scholarship applied.

Sen. Hansell wants to incentivize Native medical students to return and benefit their Tribes.

The 9 federally recognized Tribes of Oregon experience high turnover of non-Tribal medical practitioners at their clinics.

Brenda Bremner, General Manager of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, told KLCC.org that Tribal practitioners have unique knowledge of culture and issues on their reservations.

“They know what is occurring in their families, they know what’s occurring in the communities that they came from. And so recruiting them back to the community to live and work is a positive for everybody,” she said.