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Applying Theory to the Design of Cultural Competency Training for Medical Students: A Case Study

Crandall, Sonia J. PhD; George, Geeta MPH; Marion, Gail S. PA, PhD; Davis, Steve MA

Special Theme: Cultural Competence: SPECIAL THEME ARTICLES

Although literature suggests that providing culturally sensitive care promotes positive health outcomes for patients, undergraduate medical education currently does not provide adequate cultural competency training. At most schools, cultural competency, as a formal, integrated, and longitudinal thread within the overall curriculum, is still in its infancy. In this article, the authors summarize the current practice of cultural competency training within medical education and describe the design, implementation, and evaluation of a theoretically based, year-long cultural competency training course for second-year students at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Evaluation of the results indicate that the course was successful in improving knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to cultural competence as well as bringing about positive changes in the medical school's approach to cultural competency training. Also discussed are the implications of the outcomes for the development of culturally competent physicians and how using appropriate theory can help achieve desired outcomes.

Dr. Crandall is associate professor, Dr. Marion is associate professor, and Mr. Davis is research instructor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Ms. George is behavioral science research coordinator, Department of Behavioral Science, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Crandall, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157; e-mail: 〈crandall@wfubmc.edu〉. Reprints are not available.

The authors thank Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo, assistant dean, Yale University Graduate School, for her initial contributions to cultural competency training at WFUSM and the Promoting, Reinforcing, and Improving Medical Education (PRIME) project for funding the development of the course. PRIME is managed by the American Medical Student Association Foundation and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Medicine and Dentistry.

© 2003 Association of American Medical Colleges