Barriers and facilitators for Indigenous students and staff in health and human services educational programs

Kristen Joy-Correll, Emilie Nevill, Hailey Bird-Matheson, Hali McLennan, Ashley Quinn, Yael Mayer, Tal Jarus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Indigenous Peoples are underrepresented in many of the Health and Human Services Educational Programs (HHSEP, e.g.: Nursing, Social Work). As various studies have reported the benefits of diversifying HHSEP, the barriers and facilitators of increasing the number of Indigenous Peoples in these professions must be identified. The purpose of this exploratory study is to identify and understand the barriers and facilitators Indigenous Peoples face when entering, learning or working in HHSEP. A narrative approach was used in the facilitation of culturally safe sharing circles with Indigenous students and staff to collect perspectives based on their individual experiences in HHSEP. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify emerging themes in participant experiences and the impact of those experiences on participation in learning and working at the university in these educational programs. Results from this exploratory study identified current academic structures and ideologies rooted in colonialism, that act as barriers for engagement and inclusion of Indigenous students, staff, and clinical and academic faculty. These findings shaped the main themes of this study including negotiation of identity in different spaces, negotiating colonial structures in HHSEP, and negotiating changes and transitions in HHSEP. We anticipate these preliminary results will act as a catalyst for uncovering further changes to be made regarding attitudes, procedures, and practices present in an academic environment that limit the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in HHSEP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-520
Number of pages20
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Barriers and facilitators
  • Cultural Safety
  • Health and Human Services Educational Programs
  • Indigenous perspectives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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