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Multicultural Medicine and the Year 3/ 4 Student

"It is much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease than what sort of disease a patient has." (Sir William Osler)

The U.S. is Becoming More Culturally Diverse

Our health care systems must adapt in order to provide care that is culturally appropriate.  When physicians and patients interact, their respective cultural domains influence their assumptions and perceptions.  The quality of this cross-cultural interaction affects clinical decision-making and outcomes (Flores, 1998).  Health care providers must, therefore, strive to view each patient as a unique individual, gathering culturally relevant information in a trust-promoting manner in order to provide culturally sensitive care.

Cultural knowledge for physicians includes an understanding of:

Cultural competencies for physicians include being able to:

A multicultural approach to healthcare delivery requires that the patient-physician interaction go beyond focusing merely upon the chief complaint to look at lifestyle, risk behaviors, stressors, and personal circumstances, as well as the more visible cultural aspects of age, gender, race, and language. This whole-patient perspective promotes more holistically focused care-- consistent with osteopathic philosophy.

Many medical schools are integrating knowledge of cultural diversity into their curricula.  Cases and readings assigned to students in both the CPC and the PCC curricula are designed to help our students develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively meet the health care needs of an increasingly diverse society.  Efforts to promote and reinforce this perspective in the clinical setting will enhance students' abilities to develop a culturally sensitive approach to providing medical care.

Teaching Tips:

References and URLs:  The Cross Cultural Health Care Program  Resources for Health Care Providers and Consumers Ethnic Medicine Guide
Google: Flores, G.R. Cultural Competency in Medical Practice

Flores G, Gee D, and Kastner B. The Teaching of Cultural Issues in U.S. and Canadian Medical Schools. Academic Medicine, 2000, May;75(5):45-5
Lum CK and Korenman SG. Cultural-Sensitivity Training in U.S. Medical Schools. Academic Medicine, 1994, March;69(3):239-41




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