Web site spotlight: Growth in cross-cultural competency improves patient care

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, March 26, 2010

Overcoming the cultural boundaries that can prevent a patient-physician relationship from forming can be a difficult task. If a language barrier exists or a mutual understanding between the parties cannot be reached, important information might be withheld or misinterpreted.

In a 2004 survey conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY, more than half of staff members said they would benefit from additional support and training on how to teach about cultural disparities and how to overcome cultural boundaries.

"Each residency program was looking for ways to include training on cultural competency in their curriculum," says Nereida Correa, MD, MPH, associate clinical professor in the departments of OB/GYN, women's health, and family and social medicine.

With funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to eliminate health disparities and to increase faculty recognition of the need for training, program coordinator Shoshana Silberman and Correa began developing a task force to help include cultural competency training in the curriculum. The resulting program has improved how staff members address patients across cultures and encouraged multicultural patients to ask more questions about their care.

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