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How Culture is Understood in Faculty Development in the Health Professions

A Scoping Review

Lewis, Lerona Dana PhD; Steinert, Yvonne PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003024
Review: PDF Only

Purpose: To examine the ways in which culture is conceptualized in faculty development (FD) in the health professions.

Method: The authors searched PubMed, Web of Science, ERIC, and CINAHL, as well as the reference lists of identified publications, for articles on culture and FD published between 2006 and 2018. Based on inclusion criteria developed iteratively, they screened all articles. A total of 955 articles were identified, 100 were included in the full text screen, and 70 met the inclusion criteria. Descriptive and thematic analyses of data extracted from the included articles were conducted.

Results: The articles emanated from 20 countries; primarily focused on teaching and learning, cultural competence, and career development; and frequently included multidisciplinary groups of health professionals. Only 1 article evaluated the cultural relevance of a FD program. The thematic analysis yielded 3 main themes: culture was frequently mentioned but not explicated; culture centered on issues of diversity, aiming to promote institutional change; and cultural consideration was not routinely described in international FD.

Conclusions: Culture was frequently mentioned but rarely defined in the FD literature. In programs focused on cultural competence and career development, addressing culture was understood as a way of accounting for racial and socioeconomic disparities. In international FD programs, accommodations for cultural differences were infrequently described, despite authors acknowledging the importance of national norms, values, beliefs, and practices. In a time of increasing international collaboration, an awareness of, and sensitivity to, cultural contexts is needed.

L.D. Lewis was a postdoctoral fellow, Centre for Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, at the time this work was completed.

Y. Steinert is professor of family medicine and health sciences education, director of the Institute of Health Sciences Education, and the Richard and Sylvia Cruess Chair in Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Acknowledgements: The authors gratefully acknowledge Ms. Naz Torabi and Ms. Andrea Quaiattini for their help with the comprehensive searches across multiple databases, Dr. Aliki Thomas for her advice regarding scoping review methodology, and Ms. Nicole Gignac for her able assistance in compiling all the data.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Previous presentations: Preliminary findings were presented at the 14th Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference in Singapore in January 2017.

Correspondence should be addressed to Yvonne Steinert, Institute of Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, 1110 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 1A3; email:; Twitter: @IHSE_McGill.

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges