Indigenous Australians are under-represented in the health workforce. Large disparities between rates of Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees exist for every health profession, including nurses and medical practitioners. To address these staffing shortages, it is important not only to recruit more Indigenous Australians into health courses, but also to support them throughout their studies, and to help with transitioning into the workforce. The aim of this systematic review is to identify literature describing the enablers and barriers to the retention of Indigenous health students studying at university. We will highlight documented or proposed strategies to support Indigenous health students and assist retention.
Seven electronic databases were systematically searched in July 2018. Articles were screened for inclusion using pre-defined criteria and assessed for quality using the Mixed Methods Assessment Tool.
Programs and initiatives by health and medical science faculties are attempting to improve graduation or completion rates of Indigenous health students, instead of focusing just on increasing enrolment rates. Strategies implemented include appointing Indigenous academics, incorporating Indigenous culture and health issues into the curriculum, encouraging and developing support networks and mentoring programs for Indigenous students and establishing scholarships.