Cultural competency training on deck for faculty/staff

by Chuck Brown, UNMC public relations | January 05, 2010

Cultural competency educational training modules will soon be available for UNMC faculty and staff.

The training will help members of the UNMC workforce improve their awareness of and responsiveness to the cultural differences they will experience with patients, coworkers, students and others.

Cultural competency matters

The National Center for Cultural Competence has identified six compelling reasons why we need Culturally Competent Health Care:

  • Respond to current and projected demographic changes in the United States;
  • Improve the quality of services and health outcomes;
  • Meet legislative, regulatory and accreditation mandates;
  • Gain a competitive edge in the market place;
  • Decrease the likelihood of liability/malpractice claims; and
  • Eliminate long-standing disparities in the health status of people of diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

"The nation's population is more diverse than it's ever been and it's important that those in health care understand how to interact with this vast mix of people and cultures," said UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D.

The development of such training is called for in the UNMC Strategic Plan.

Two modules -- one for those who interact with patients and another for those don't -- will be introduced to the campus on Monday (Jan. 11).

Employees and faculty will participate in the training in a manner similar to their annual safety and workplace conduct training.

A difference will be that the cultural competency modules will evolve and allow employees to gain a deeper understanding of cultural competency, said Shireen Rajaram, Ph.D., director of UNMC's Center for Reducing Health Disparities in the College of Public Health and the leader of a committee that designed the training modules.

"This is not static information, as the population changes, the need to gain more knowledge of various cultures increases," Dr. Rajaram said.

The training will help employees examine their attitudes about various cultures and see how they can better relate and cooperate with those from other cultures, said Rubens Pamies, M.D., vice chancellor for academic affairs.

"Cultural competency is a lifelong journey, not a destination," Dr. Pamies said. "We become stronger as health care providers and as people as we learn to better understand and respect others and their cultures."