‘Pioneer’ medical graduate looks forward to providing care to underserved Indigenous communities – Winnipeg
A Manitoba First Nation celebrates a local university graduate for more than one reason.
Brooke Cochrane, 26, will officially become a physician in June after graduating from Max Rady College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba.
Not only is she the first in her family to do so, but she will be the first physician to come from the Fisher River Cree Nation.
“I think it’s a great honor to be able to represent Fisher River, as well as the Cree peoples, within the Manitoba medical school system,” says Cochrane.
“As we know, Manitoba has a large aboriginal population, and therefore aboriginal patients, and I think it’s very important that physicians represent the population they serve.
The ambitious future doctor will continue her studies in rural family medicine during her residency at Boundary Trails Health Center, but intends to eventually return to Fisher River to serve her home community.
“Myself entering medical school, as well as other Indigenous medical students entering medical school, I think we are really making an extremely important change in the safety and cultural safety that Indigenous patients will face and see when they do. ‘they will go into health care,’ Cochrane said.
Having spent a lot of time working in different First Nations and Inuit communities during her medical studies, Cochrane says she feels drawn to helping provide health care to those who do not have the same access as the centers. urban.
Her father, Harold Cochrane, says it was not the first time his daughter had witnessed disparities in the health care system.
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“She saw her grandfather – my father – who has diabetes, like most people in the communities, having to travel to Winnipeg three hours (away). And he was never treated by an Aboriginal doctor, ”says Harold.
“So I think that was part of Brooke’s goal to change that.”
However, Cochrane was not happy to wait for her medical degree to start making a difference.
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At school, she learned that Manitoba was one of the last provinces in Canada to offer universal coverage of the Mifegymiso medical abortion pill.
“This meant that for people living in rural or remote Manitoba, anyone living outside of Winnipeg or Brandon had to fork out $ 300 out of pocket to access this pill. So that was a huge gap and added to this huge gap in health care outcomes for Indigenous peoples, ”says Cochrane.
She and four other colleagues have teamed up to organize a letter-writing campaign and rally at the Manitoba Legislature.
In the end, they were successful, with the provincial government announcing its intention to fully cover the drug in June 2019.
Cochrane calls this his “proudest moment”.
“It was my first big leap into advocacy and it really sparked something in me that advocacy is something that I hope to continue in my future, and I hope to continue on this path of promoting Indigenous health. “Cochrane said.
“When our advocacy efforts were recognized and crowned with success, it was so remarkable to reflect on those people who struggled in the past and how that barrier has now been removed, and to how beneficial it will be to Manitoba as a whole.
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Elder Cochrane says their family is extremely proud of all they have achieved, after nearly a decade of study and hard work.
“One thing that impresses me the most about my daughter is that she hasn’t forgotten where she came from,” said Harold.
“She really understands that her family has struggled with residential schools and all the problems that come with it. So she knows who she is and she wants to give back, and that’s what impresses me the most.
“That hasn’t changed, that’s who she is.”
Cochrane’s grandparents were residential and day school survivors.
“Any obstacle can be overcome and I hope my story can inspire other people or some kind of spark to tackle these kind of scary extremes,” Cochrane said.
“I have had the great support of my community, family and friends throughout my journey, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone around me.
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