SPPH(IHHS) 408 – Topics in Indigenous Health: A Community-Based Experience

Photographer Bryttany Burns

Photographer Bryttany Burns


  • Interprofessional teamwork

  • Patient-centered care

  • Western and Indigenous views on health and medicine

  • Reflective understanding of local health concerns, values, and culture




This could be your classroom! The practice-based Indigenous health elective for health sciences students. This 4-week course provides students with a unique opportunity to live and work with students from other health disciplines within an Indigenous community in BC. This course was formerly offered through the College of Health Disciplines which officially closed its doors in June 2015.

Registration Deadline: February 19, 2016

Learning Objectives

After completing this course, it is anticipated that students will have the ability to:

  1. Reflect on personal attitudes, beliefs and assumptions, gaining insight on how these can affect care in the context of Indigenous communities.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of and respect for Indigenous perspectives on health and wellbeing.
  3. Explore and generate ideas for how health professionals and university can modify practice to provide a positive impact on health and health professional-community relationships.
  4. Consider the importance of interprofessional teamwork when working with communities.
  5. Gain understanding of, acknowledge and explore the implications of specific processes of colonization and related social policies for the health of Indigenous peoples.
  6. Examine and identify patterns of health and illness from multiple perspectives: epidemiology, interdisciplinary health, community and Indigenous knowledge.
  7. Identify positive and negative factors influencing health and wellness in Indigenous communities.
  8. Explore approaches to health services and practice that demonstrate an understanding of cultural safety.
  9. Demonstrate respectful communication with Indigenous peoples.
  10. Develop rapport, establish trust and effective listening skills; acknowledge differences and similarities in perceptions in recommending treatment and negotiating agreement.
  11. Demonstrate understanding of the value of the unique contributions of each profession.
  12. Demonstrate effective interprofessional teamwork in the provision of quality care.
  13. Explore the influence of personal and professional values and beliefs on interprofessional teamwork and practice; and apply this understanding in practice.

DATES: May 30-June-30, 2016

SPPH (IHHS) 408 will include a 2-day orientation in our downtown Vancouver office prior to working in community:

Orientation: May 30-31, 2016

Course Dates: To be determined in 2016. The course is Monday to Friday, and hours will coincide with community health centre hours of operation. There is an expectation that students will participate in community activities as able/appropriate outside of these hours.

Course Outlines

Please visit the SPPH(IHHS) 408 Course Outline_2016 and see SPPH(IHHS) 408 Overview presentation for more information.

Application Process

Submit an application consisting of a one-page letter and CV to Shawna Duncan(Program Coordinator) at shawna.duncan@ubc.ca and add Leah Walker (Associate Director – Education) at leah.walker@ubc.ca . In your letter please demonstrate your interest in the course and why you want to take it, including how it is applicable to your future career. Write about any background in Aboriginal health that you may have. Also indicate your preference in site location (see below). Please put your cover letter and CV into one document with your preferred sites listed on your cover letter.

Students admitted into this course will be required to successfully complete a criminal record check prior to working in community.

2016 sites:


What is the application process for this course?

  • Applications are received and reviewed until the February 19 deadline.
  • Students will be contacted around the last week in February to arrange for personal interviews in early March. This interview gives university coordinators the opportunity to meet students, to assess the fit and readiness of students for working in community, and to give students the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about what to expect in the course.
  • Notification of acceptance goes out around the end of March.
  • Registration will happen around the end of April following a successful criminal record check. Registration is done by the Education Coordinator.

How much does the course cost?

  • It depends. For most students, course fees are charged on a per-credit basis, and the course is 6 credits. Fees per credit vary across departments and faculties.

Do I have to be a UBC student to take this course?

  • Yes. This course is open to all UBC health science students. If you are not currently a UBC student, you will need to have applied to UBC, be accepted as an ‘unclassified’ student, apply to the 408 course, and then be accepted into the course. Application to UBC is a quick and easy process that can be completed online.

 Where can I get information about UBC enrolment?

What about accommodation and food?

  • Accommodation costs are covered in the course fees (6 credits).
  • Accommodations will be arranged by the course coordinators in the community in which students are placed.
  • Food costs are covered by the student. Most communities have a grocery store but students are advised to bring specialty items from home as they may be difficult to purchase in rural areas.

Do I have to live in the community for the entire month?

  • Yes. Because this course is designed as an immersion experience, it is expected that students will spend as much time as possible in community and participate in extracurricular activities as much as possible.
  • Any missed classes or time away must be arranged in advance with the community preceptor.

Do I have to attend the two-day orientation in Vancouver on May 29and 30?

  • Yes. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis if the student has exams for another course that conflict with orientation dates. You are expected to attend at least one of the orientation days. This orientation gives student teams the opportunity to start getting to know each other and make transportation arrangements to communities. We will be doing a lot of team-building exercises at the two-day orientation, as well as some learning around cultural competency and safety when working with Indigenous peoples in a health care context.

How are students placed into communities?

  • Community placements are determined based upon the student’s preference and the types of skills that communities are looking for.

When will I know what community I am placed into?

  • We consult with each community before assigning placements. Final decisions are usually made in early to mid-May.

What types of projects will I be working on, and how are they decided?

  • Individual and/or group project topics are determined by each community’s individual health needs. You will work with the community preceptor and instructor(s) to develop a proposal and project that is relevant to your community’s context. This is a unique opportunity to participate in developing a health promotion project with fellow students from many different health disciplines.

I’m a professional practice student. Will I get to shadow a practitioner in my discipline?

  • The availability of practicing health care professionals varies by community. We will do our best to match students with relevant practitioners. However, a primary focus of the course is interdisciplinary learning, so you will work with a number of different community preceptors from different fields.

I’ve been accepted into the course. When do I get my handbook and community calendar?

  • Student handbooks will be available at the orientation. Each community will be scheduling learning activities during the month of June. Some communities may decide to create a calendar before the course starts, and others will not. Part of the experience of living in community is being open to change and learning to be flexible when new situations arise, and so a calendar is not created ahead of time to allow for the natural flow of change.

I have a criminal record check completed as part of a previous course/volunteer experience. Can I use this, or does another CRC have to be done?

  • If you have had a successful criminal record check completed in the last five years and can produce a valid copy, this will be sufficient.