Medical Science Educator

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 233–243 | Cite as

Cultural Competency in the Medical Genetics Classroom: A Case Study for a Diverse Learning Community

  • Shoumita DasguptaEmail author
Original Research


Medical educators have embraced the commitment to teach and support their diverse learning community as an integral facet of their educational philosophy. This study explores application of this principle to a first-year medical genetics small group exercise. The author developed and implemented a case study exploring sickle cell disease and ancestry-based genetic predispositions in the Boston University School of Medicine Medical Genetics course. Because the small group composition itself deliberately maximized student diversity, it was an ideal setting to tap into the wide range of student experience. The author measured knowledge gain, using a pre- and post-test model, and student engagement through course evaluations. Pairing case-based discussion and diverse student groups created an engaging curricular exercise designed to explore clinical issues related to diversity. Implementation of the case demonstrated significant knowledge gains on genetic concepts specifically related to genetic predispositions and testing strategies that are influenced by a patient’s ancestry. Students reported especially strong motivation to understand issues of clinical importance in the case. Because many medical school courses utilize small group teaching, tailoring these strategies, as described in this study, would help to strengthen an institution’s commitment to diversity by blending learning in cultural competency and medical science.


Diverse learning genetics cultural 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Biomedical Genetics SectionBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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