Losing culture on the way to competence: The use and misuse of culture in medical education

Jessica Gregg, Somnath (Som) Saha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

107 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most cultural competence programs are based on traditional models of cross-cultural education that were motivated primarily by the desire to alleviate barriers to effective health care for immigrants, refugees, and others on the sociocultural margin. The main driver of renewed interest in cultural competence in the health professions has been the call to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of health care. This mismatch between the motivation behind the design of cross-cultural education programs and the motivation behind their current application creates significant problems. First, in trying to define cultural boundaries or norms, programs may inadvertently reinforce racial and ethnic biases and stereotypes while doing little to clarify the actual complex sociocultural contexts in which patients live. Second, in attempting to address racial and ethnic disparities through cultural competence training, educators too often conflate these distinct concepts. To make this argument, the authors first discuss the relevance of culture to health and health care generally, and to disparities in particular. They then examine the concept of culture, paying particular attention to how it has been used (and misused) in cultural competence training. Finally, they discuss the implications of these ideas for health professions education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)542-547
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume81
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Fingerprint

Cultural Competency
Medical Education
Mental Competency
Health Occupations
health care
Motivation
education
health
profession
Delivery of Health Care
Education
Racism
Refugees
Quality of Health Care
mismatch
Health Education
refugee
stereotype
driver
immigrant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Education

Cite this

Losing culture on the way to competence : The use and misuse of culture in medical education. / Gregg, Jessica; Saha, Somnath (Som).

In: Academic Medicine, Vol. 81, No. 6, 06.2006, p. 542-547.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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