Indians into Medicine – University of North Dakota

March 9, 2023

Indians Into Medicine (INMED) is a comprehensive education program that assists American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students who are preparing for health careers.


INMED provides academic, personal, social, and cultural support for students in grades 7 through graduate studies. Each year, INMED enrolls an average of 100 health, pre-health, and allied health students in various academic programs.

The Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society gave UND SMHS a 2019 Award for Excellence in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in Medical Education and Patient Care based on the strength of the INMED program. The SMHS was one of only four medical schools in the U.S. to receive the award that year.

Purpose and Mission

The INMED program was established at UND in 1973 to address three major problem areas in AI/AN health care:

  • Too few health professionals in AI/AN communities
  • Too few AI/AN health professionals
  • The substandard level of health and health care in AI/AN communities.

INMED is designed to increase awareness and motivation for health careers among AI/AN students by developing academic programs and recruiting and enrolling students in the proper curricula. INMED provides academic, social, and cultural support to assist students in successful completion of their programs of study.

INMED assures that it addresses the needs and concerns of tribal communities in its five-state region through the Tribal Advisory Board (TAB). The tribal governments of all 26 tribes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, and Wyoming appoint representatives to TAB.


In 1972, there were only 26 American Indian physicians and one Indian dentist in the country. UND SMHS Research Director Gary Dunn and Dr. Robert Eelkema, who was professor and chairman of community medicine and rural health had an idea to change that. They envisioned a program that would recruit, train, and graduate American Indians into the health professions with the goal that they return to reservations or other underserved rural communities to practice. Dunn and Eelkema gained the input and support of many at UND, including UND President Tom Clifford, Chair of the Indian Studies Department, Art Raymond, and Eelkema’s former medical school classmate of Dr. Lionel Demontigny. Demontigny, the first American Indian graduate of the UND SMHS, knew first-hand the challenges Native people faced entering the health professions. The team secured grant funding in 1972, hired the first INMED Director, Dr. Lois Steele, and INMED was born.

Learn more here