In existence for over 25 years, Asniya is a 501(c)3 non-profit outreach organization that brings medical students to Indian reservations to teach health and science to American Indian children. The medical students serve as “Asniya interns” and are integrated into the school as health and science teachers. They deliver dynamic hands-on classroom presentations to captivate students’ attention, to render health professions less abstract and more tangible, and to provide basic knowledge to increase safety, preventative care, and improved health outcomes. Since our inception, it has been our mission to bring medical knowledge and opportunity to American Indian children, while expanding the cultural awareness of future physicians.
What is Asniya?
Asniya, meaning “to heal” or “to cure” in the language of the Dakota Sioux, is an outreach program, established through Harvard Medical School in 1995, whereby medical students and other allied health care students are recruited from participating institutions to serve as Asniya interns. Interns receive course credit and are sent to Indian reservations to introduce Native American youth to fields in health care. In addition, clinical experiences are arranged for the interns at local reservation health care facilities, providing insight to the complex Native American health issues that exist.
What is the goal of Asniya?
By focusing our attention on Native American youth, Asniya strives to:
- Render health care professions less abstract and more tangible.
- Provide basic, practical knowledge and increase medical sophistication.
- Increase safety, preventative care, and overall improvement of health.
- Instill a greater sense of self-worth, confidence and capability.
- Provide personal empowerment towards reaching higher levels in education.
- Promote positive change within Native American communities.
How is the mission of Asniya accomplished?
During month-long visits to participating schools on South Dakota Indian reservations, interns interact with and deliver daily classroom presentations to junior high and high school students on a variety of medically related topics. The Asniya approach involves the use of prepared lecture material, slide presentations, and video footage of medical procedures to captivate students’ attention. Stethoscopes, basic first aid kits, and informational materials are incorporated into animated and interactive presentations to stimulate interest and help teach fundamental concepts.