Cultural competency training for third-year clerkship students: Effects of an interactive workshop on student attitudes

Michele M. Carter, Evelyn L. Lewis, Tracy Sbrocco, Richard Tanenbaum, Jennifer C. Oswald, William Sykora, Pamela Williams, Lauren D. Hill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


With an increasing awareness of health disparities, medical schools are challenged to develop training in cultural competency for their students. We developed and evaluated the effectiveness of an interactive workshop designed to improve third-year students' attitudes, beliefs and cross-cultural communication skills. Methods: At the start of a six-week required family medicine clerkship, 196 medical students participated in small group (20-24 students) workshops. Didactics included facts about health disparities and a model of cultural competency. During a skill-building component, students were exposed to live vignettes portraying ineffective and effective cross-cultural doctor-patient interactions. Impact on students' attitudes, perceived bias and knowledge of techniques was assessed by comparing pre- and postworkshop scores. Results: Participants increased their cultural awareness on most items of a cultural awareness scale. Fifty-five-, 71- and 66% of the sample agreed or strongly agreed the program was valuable, appropriate and effective, respectively. Conversely, only 17-, 6- and 9% of the sample disagreed or strongly disagreed, respectively. Conclusions: A workshop for third-year students led to an increase in cultural awareness and was considered appropriate and valuable. Further study, including longitudinal training and evaluation, is needed regarding effective methods to increase cultural competence in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1772-1778
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural competence
  • Health disparities
  • Medical education


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