Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework

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The CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework project was undertaken from 2002 to 2005.  It was the first major outcome of the Medical Deans Indigenous Health Project.  In 2004 a national audit of existing Indigenous Health content in all medical schools was conducted, followed by workshops with stakeholders.  This work then informed the development of the CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework.

The Framework was authored by Gregory Phillips on behalf of Medical Deans and was published in 2004.  It was endorsed by all the Deans of Medicine and has been included in the Australian Medical Council’s accreditation guidelines for basic medical education since 2006, thus requiring all medical schools to include core Indigenous Health content in their medical curricula.

The rationale for establishing core Indigenous Health content was that all medical graduates need to be both clinically and culturally competent to effect positive health outcomes.  This is true for the whole population but is particularly important with regards to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whose health outcomes are unacceptably poor.  Furthermore, despite a common misperception that health professionals only come in contact with Indigenous patients in rural and remote locations, or through Indigenous-specific medical services, in fact most Indigenous peoples live in urban areas and access mainstream health services.  Thus even for health professionals whose main focus is not Indigenous Health, a minimum level of knowledge and competency is necessary to effectively engage with Indigenous patients and improve broader health outcomes.

The CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework serves as a resource for medical educators to develop and implement core Indigenous Health content in medical curricula at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  It is a comprehensive yet flexible guideline, allowing each medical school to tailor the recommendations within the specific context of the institution.  Focus is on multidisciplinary teaching and learning with aspects of history, anthropology, clinical medicine, politics and ethics included.

* CDAMS (Committee of Deans of Australian Medical Schools) was subsumed by Medical Deans when the organisation was incorporated in January, 2007.

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