The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in October of last year published data that points to an increasing number of minorities enrolled in US Medical Colleges. This is great! In a country marked by increasing diversity, it is essential that healt-related training programs prepare a group of students that is consistent with the population of this country. A profession dominated by white, men is outmoded and inconsistent with America’s landscape. If we are to effectively treat patients who come from a variety of backgrounds–Latino, African America, Chinese, etc–then we must also be training a workforce proportional to this trend.
This begs the question, as aspiring healthcare professionals getting ready to serve patients from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, how do we best serve them even if at face value they seem “different?” This is where I believe cultural awareness and competency should be integrated into medical school curriculum more than what it is today. A framework needs to be established that prepares future health care professionals for cultural differences that are bound to come up in the everyday office visit or surgery consult. A great resource to learn more about improving the incorporation of cultural awareness into medical school programs can be found here: http://worldhealth.wikia.com/wiki/Cultural_Competency
As a pre-med student, and as you begin looking at various medical schools across the country, it is imperative that you consider schools who take seriously the issue of cultural competency. To be an effective doctor or nurse or dentist it is essential that you learn what it means to be culturally aware in this dynamically evolving country–and the world for that matter. If you know of any medical schools leading the way in this movement please feel free to post here.