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In 'historic milestone,' Minnesota medical school sees its largest group of indigenous students

A drum circle performance took place during the University of Minnesota Medical School at Duluth's White Coat Ceremony in 2018. Special to Forum News Service1 / 2
The University of Minnesota Medical School at Duluth's 2018 White Coat Ceremony. Dr. Mary Owen, director of the school's Center of American Indian and Minority Health, stands behind the podium. Special to Forum News Service2 / 2

DULUTH — The incoming class at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth has a record number of Native American students this year.

The university’s Duluth campus is hosting its annual White Coat Ceremony Friday afternoon, Aug. 16, in which it will welcome 65 incoming medical students for the Class of 2023. Twelve of those students are Native American — marking the largest group in the school’s history and a "historic milestone," a news release said.

Less than 1% of medical doctors in the U.S. are Native American, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The association ranks the University of Minnesota's Duluth campus second in the number of Native American physicians trained there. The University of Oklahoma ranks first.

Alyssa Dindorf, a University of Minnesota spokesperson, said a total of 177 indigenous physicians have graduated from the school. She added that the most recent graduating classes of 2019 and 2018 each had a handful of Native American graduates.

Friday's White Coat Ceremony is set for 1 to 3 p.m. at the Marshall Performing Arts Center. The ceremony is a “rite of passage” in which new medical students recite their oaths to abide by strong ethical standards and to commit to a high quality of care for their patients, according to the release.