Need for ensuring cultural competence in medical programmes of European universities.

23 January, 2019

Reference: Sorensen, J., Norredam, M., Suurmond, J., Carter-Pokras, O., Garcia-Ramirez, M., & Krasnik, A. (2019). Need for ensuring cultural competence in medical programmes of European universities. BMC Medical Education, 19(1), 21.

Abstract: Background:Europe is becoming more social and cultural diverse as a result of the increasing migration, but themedical doctors are largely unprepared. The medical education programmes and teachers have not evolved in linewith development of the population. Culturally competent curricula and teachers are needed, to ensure culturalcompetence among medical doctors and to tackle inequalities in health between different ethnic groups. Theobjective of this EU financed study is therefore to provide a snapshot of the role of cultural competence inEuropean medical educational programmes.Methods:A questionnaire was developed in order to uncover strengths and weaknesses regarding culturalcompetence in the European medical education programmes. The questionnaire consisted of 32 questions. Allquestions had an evidence box to support the informants’understanding of the questions. The questionnaire wassent by email to the 12 European project partners. 12 completed questionnaires were returned.Results:Though over half of the participating medical programmes have incorporated how to handle socialdeterminants of health in the curriculum most are lacking focus on how medical professionals’own norms andimplicit attitudes may affect health care provision as well as abilities to work effectively with an interpreter. Almostnone of the participating medical programmes evaluate the students on cultural competence learning outcomes.Most medical schools participating in the survey do not offer cultural competence training for teachers, and resourcesspent on initiatives related to cultural competences are few. Most of the participating medical programmes acknowledgethat the training given to the medical students is not adequate for future jobs in the health care service in theirrespective country regarding cultural competence.Conclusions:Our results indicate that there are major deficiencies in the commitment and practice within theparticipating educational programs and there are clear potentials for major improvements regarding cultural competencein programmes. Key challenges include making lasting changes to the curriculum and motivating and engagingstakeholders (teachers, management etc.) within the organisation to promote and allocate resources to culturalcompetence training for teachers.

Keywords: Cultural competence, Medical education, Medical teachers, Medical curricula, Ethnic minorities, Immigrants,C2ME, Diversity sensitivity

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