Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Cultural Competency

Background of Cultural Competency
  • In the next 30-50 years, 50% of the population of the United States will consist of “minority groups”.
  • Understanding different backgrounds is a necessity to deliver good quality health care.
  • Understanding our own prejudices, preferences, attitudes and behaviors will help us improve our practice and access to care.
Mission of Faculty Development

This site is designed to aid physicians, medical students, nursing and ancillary staff to assess their own cultural competency and to understand related concepts. Our aim is provide easy tools to enhance cultural competency in the School of Medicine so that the care we provide to our diverse patient population is exemplary and in keeping with the changes in our society.

It is also designed as a tool for faculty development in this area and an easy way to teach culturally competent care to our residents, fellow, students etc.

We will be updating this site with recent articles, conferences and updates related to the field.

Core Issues of Cultural Competency

Faculty and students need to have an understanding of racial and ethic disparities that affect healthcare quality and effectiveness. They need to be aware of their personal bias that might affect their delivery of healthcare in a diverse patient population. Faculty and learners need to be able to develop an understanding of various religious beliefs, social, economic and ethnic backgrounds and the way in which these groups perceive ailments, seek care and respond to various healthcare systems. They need to be aware of the mistrust and prejudice, gender, spiritual and religious issues along with family dynamics that might come into play interacting with patients from different backgrounds and be able to use available tools to overcome them.

The AAMC recommends using TACCT (Tool for Assessing Cultural Competency Training) as a self-assessment tool to examine all components of cultural competency. It helps us in meeting the LCME requirements also.

“Effective teaching about cultural competence requires a solid knowledge base, which can be developed in lectures, assignments, and small group activities. Skill building is most effectively accomplished in interactive, experiential learning settings. Exploring attitudes and developing effective communication strategies require an opportunity for reflection and discussion. The information from the TACCT Specific Components grid can form the basis for a strategic plan to modify and/or enhance the curriculum to assure that medical students receive an appropriate educational experience.”

– Adapted from

CLAS Standards

Stands for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services. The National standards were set by the office of minority health in 2000. CLAS standards focus on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities and improving health for all Americans. All staff members of health care institutions need to deliver effective, understandable and respectful care compatible with cultural beliefs, practices and preferred language of the population that they serve. Institutions must try to recruit, retain and promote a diverse staff at all levels of the organization. Institutions must also ensure ongoing education and training in CLAS delivery is provided to staff. The themes of CLAS standards are:

  • Culturally Competent Care
  • Language Access Services
  • Organizational Supports


Current & Classic Resources

This section will highlight recent and classic resources in the cultural competency and health disparities. Each month there will be annotated references of journal articles, books, and electronic resources which highlight the strengths and applications of the resource for teaching and learning. The resources may include content material, curriculum or instructional development material.

If you would like to contribute an annotated resource contact:

Doris C. Agwu, MPH.