Partnering with First Nations in Physician Recruitment and Retention Plans

Why Consider First Nations?

Most First Nations people access physician services outside of their own Nation in towns or cities. It is important to meaningfully engage First Nations in key decisions affecting their own health and/or the health of their communities, such as recruitment of physicians. It is essential that First Nations people have access to a health care system that is culturally safe. This means that First Nations people have a right to access a health care system that is free of racism and discrimination and should feel safe when receiving health care. They have a right to feel respected enough to ask questions about their health and to have their concerns heard.

What does a Physician Need to Know?

Many Canadians (or international physicians) have not learned about First Nations in the school system. However, it is vital that physicians learn about the unique cultural, historical and political context of First Nations in BC in order to provide quality care to First Nations. Key to providing culturally safe services includes:

  • Recognizing the role of history and society in shaping health and health care experiences for First Nations.
  • Understanding that culture is related to history and society and entails more than a set of values and beliefs.
  • Self-reflecting on one’s own assumptions and one’s position of power within the health care system.
  • Emphasizing patient experiences of safety within the health care system and during interactions with providers.

How can First Nations Contribute?

There are many benefits to ensuring First Nations are a part of local physician recruitment and retention plans. Building relationships early on is key to success and ability of physicians to provide care that meets the needs of local First Nations. First Nations can contribute by:

  • Adding a description of their Nations to the community profile.
  • Identifying criteria for a good fit i.e. experience working with First Nations, demonstrated cultural safety skills.
  • Participating in a hiring committee.
  • Welcoming new physicians.
  • Including GPs in community events/ceremonies.
  • Providing an understanding of the conditions local First Nations live with on a daily basis (poverty, colonial trauma and substance use, inadequate housing, drinking water challenges, environmental contaminants).

Whom do I Contact?

Health Directors are a key contact in First Nations communities.

First Nations Health Authority:, 604 693 6542

First Nations Health Directors Association:, 604.693.6500

Office of the Chief Medical Health Officer, FNHA: Contact, 1-604-693-6552

How do I Contact?

Phone numbers and addresses of First Nations and Aboriginal organizations can be found in a Guide to Aboriginal Organizations and Services in BC

How can the First Nations Health Authority Contribute?

  • Provide local, regional, provincial connections with First Nations communities.
  • Connect local divisions with FNHA Regional Engagement teams.
  • Share First Nations perspectives on wellness.
  • Collaborate on strategies to recruit physicians who are able to provide cultural safety service to First Nations.
  • Provide linkages to recruitment efforts of other health professionals in First Nations communities.
  • Provide information on how to provide culturally safe services.

More information on FNHA

First Nations Resources

FNHA nursing recruitment video: Watch to see how nurses are being recruited to rural and remote First Nation communities in BC.

Provincial Health Service’s Authority Sanyas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training

The Indigenous Cultural Safety training is a unique, facilitated on-line training program designed to increase knowledge, enhance self-awareness, and strengthen the skills of those who work both directly and indirectly with Aboriginal people. The on-line Core Health program meets the accreditation criteria of The College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been accredited for up to 8 Mainpro-C type credits,

UBC Learning Circle

The UBC Learning Circle is a webinar and videoconference program featuring workshops on Indigenous physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health and wellness. The Learning Circle’s continuing professional development and community workshops increase health capacity in all its forms and enhance telehealth literacy in First Nations communities across BC. It prioritizes Indigenous knowledge sharing among health professionals, community members, elders, students and youth.

Cultural Humility and Safety Resources