oa African Journal of Health Professions Education - Cultural competence or speaking the patient's language? : editorial
Cultural competence has become yet another buzz word in the education of healthcare professionals. According to Prasad et al., 'culturally competent care assumes that healthcare providers can learn a quantifiable set of attitudes and communication skills that will allow them to work effectively within the cultural context of the patients they come across'. The questions that arise, therefore, are whether clinical trainees are being fully supported to acquire this fundamental skill and whether overloaded curricula can accommodate the ongoing demand for more 'teaching time'. A recent survey found that two-thirds of US medical schools offer a medical Spanish curriculum. These data are very encouraging until the article is read in more detail. Most of these curricula are elective, not eligible for course credit, and few schools reported the use of validated instruments to measure language proficiency after completing the curriculum. Major barriers to implementing these curricula include lack of time in students' schedules, overly heterogeneous student language skill levels, and a lack of financial resources.
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