Cultural Competence in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Curriculum

Cultural competence in the context of health care provision is the ability to 1) interact respectfully and effectively with persons from a background different from one’s own and 2) individualize care to patients with diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors to meet patients’ social, cultural, and linguistic needs. Cultural competence goes beyond an awareness of or sensitivity to another culture to include the ability to use the necessary knowledge and skills to provide optimal care to all patients.

Statement of Need

Cultural diversity influences a patient’s health beliefs, help-seeking activities, interactions with health care professionals, adherence to prescribed regimens, and ultimately health care outcomes. Health care professionals must understand their own cultural values and beliefs, and those of their patients, in order to provide optimal patient care. Research shows that culturally competent health care professionals provide individualized patient-centered care which improves health outcomes and access to high-quality healthcare, and decreases health care expenditures and health disparities. Cultural competence is a lifelong learning process.

Instructional Goals

Cultural competence goes beyond awareness about various cultures. It is not only knowledge based but requires developing skills to individualize care to patients with diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors. It is important to develop cultural self-awareness, knowledge, and skills across the curriculum that fosters continuous cultural competence development to optimize care for all patients. The following instructional goals are developed based on the literature and are intended to serve as guidelines to help faculty develop specific learning objectives to fit individual courses and include, but are not limited to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of cultural diversity and the importance of cultural competence in providing optimal care for all patients.    
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of health professionals and inter-professional teamwork in providing culturally competent care to all patients. 
  3. Be able to assess one’s own biases, stereotypes, and level of cultural competence.*
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of how a practitioner’s own cultural beliefs may affect the provision of patient care.
  5. Discuss how cultural beliefs shape patients’ interpretation and experience of disease(s) and treatment(s).
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of health care needs and health disparities of diverse populations and develop any necessary interventions taking cultural diversity into account.
  7. Use appropriate cultural communication strategies for patients with limited English proficiency, health literacy, and/or nonverbal styles of communication.
  8. Use effective cultural communication strategies when interacting with patients, families, peers, and colleagues. 
  9. Understand and utilize strategies and resources to instill cultural competence as a life-long learning process.*

* Consider meeting with co-curricular activities.  Co-curricular is viewed as activities unassociated with a course, but occur during the time a student is working through the curriculum.