Medical Students’ Perceptions of Their Teachers’ and Their Own Cultural Competency: Implications for Education

  • Britta M. Thompson
  • Paul Haidet
  • Robert Casanova
  • Rey P. Vivo
  • Arthur G. Gomez
  • Arleen F. Brown
  • Regina A. Richter
  • Sonia J. Crandall
Original Article

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Enhancing the cultural competency of students is emerging as a key issue in medical education; however, students may perceive that they are more able to function within cross-cultural situations than their teachers, reducing the effectiveness of cultural competency educational efforts.

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of our study was to compare medical students’ perceptions of their residents, attendings, and their own cultural competency.

DESIGN

Cross-sectional study.

MAIN MEASURES

A questionnaire containing previously validated instruments was administered to end-of-third-year medical students at four institutions throughout the US. Repeated measures multivariate analysis was used to determine differences in student ratings.

PARTICIPANTS

Three hundred fifty-eight medical students from four schools participated, for an overall response rate of 65%.

RESULTS

Analysis indicated overall statistically significant differences in students’ ratings (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.33). Students rated their own cultural competency as statistically significantly higher than their residents, but similar to their attendings. For reference, students rated the patient care competency of themselves, their residents, and their attendings; they rated their attendings’ skills as statistically significantly higher than residents, and residents as statistically significantly higher than themselves. There were differences between cultural competency and patient care ratings.

CONCLUSIONS

Our results indicate that students perceive the cultural competency of their attendings and residents to be the same or lower than themselves. These findings indicate that this is an important area for future research and curricular reform, considering the vital role that attendings and residents play in the education of medical students.

KEY WORDS

cultural competency medical education medical education-undergraduate 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Supported in part by grants from the Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA-AAMC) and K07 Cultural Competence and Health Disparities Academic Awards from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The authors would like to thank Rachel Shada and Dr. Cayla Teal for their contributions to the design of the questionnaire.

The opinions contained herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the home institutions of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Britta M. Thompson
    • 1
  • Paul Haidet
    • 2
  • Robert Casanova
    • 3
  • Rey P. Vivo
    • 3
  • Arthur G. Gomez
    • 4
  • Arleen F. Brown
    • 4
  • Regina A. Richter
    • 5
  • Sonia J. Crandall
    • 6
  1. 1.The University of Oklahoma College of MedicineOklahoma CityUSA
  2. 2.The Pennsylvania State University College of MedicineHersheyUSA
  3. 3.Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of MedicineLubbockUSA
  4. 4.David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  5. 5.UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information StudiesLos AngelesUSA
  6. 6.Wake Forest University School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

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