Cultural Competence

Cultural competence is simply the ability to interact with people of different socio-economic and cultural background. It is normal for people from all walks of life to meet at one point in time and it is cultural competence that allows them to co-exist peacefully.   

Cultural competence

From the definition, understanding the concept of culture is the key to understanding cultural competence. People do not biologically inherit a culture, they learn it. People may share cultural tendencies and pass these tendencies to the next generations; however, cultural frameworks are never rigid, and they are constantly evolving.

Video: Building Cultural Competence

Many factors—such as ethnic identification, socioeconomic status, migration history, gender, age, religion, and physical capabilities—have a profound impact on a person’s way of life. Based on these variables, people may be members of several subcultures (smaller, but in some ways distinct, units within a larger culture).  Today, diversity in the workplace is the norm rather than the exception. For instance, in the medical sector, patients and clients are likely to look different from—and think and act differently than—the clinician.

Video: Cultural Competency- For Providers

They have a wide range of ethnic identifications, religions, “material realities”, beliefs, and behaviors that lead to rich diversity and cultural complexity. Each patient, and each physical therapist, is unique. The benefits of appreciating and understanding cultural issues in the doctor-patient relationship include:    Developing a trusting relationship.  

Video: Cultural Competence: Managing Your Prejudices

Gaining increased information from patients. Improving communication with patients. Helping negotiate differences. Increasing compliance with treatment and ensuring better patient outcomes. Increased patient satisfaction. Components of cultural competence. You need to ask yourself the following questions:  -Are you aware of your own cultural worldview? 

-What is your attitude towards cultural differences?  -Do you know various cultural practices and world views?  -Which cross-cultural skills do you have?      Importance of learning cultural competence at an early age. Children need to learn and develop cultural competence at an early age. This is so because developing cultural competence makes it easy for children to understand, interact and communicate effectively with people across cultures. 

Video: Cultural Competence Program

Moreover, in this era of globalization, governments all over the world are looking for ways in which the world can be converted into a global village, and cultural competence forms the basis of their steps. There are therefore efforts in coming up with a cultural competence curriculum.  For a cultural competence curriculum to be effectively put in place, there are certain institutional requirements:  

Video: Cultural Competence for Staff

The curriculum must have the institutional support of the leadership, faculty, and students. Institutional and community resources must be committed to the curriculum. Community leaders must be sought out and involved in designing the curriculum and providing feedback. The institution and its faculty need to commit to providing integrated educational interventions appropriate to the level of the learner.

Video: Cross-cultural competence in action: the power of building bridges | Nina Frauenfeld | TEDxCIFE

A cultural competence curriculum must have a clearly defined evaluation process that includes accountability and evaluation (for example, evidence of a planning process to assure appropriate inclusion of material throughout the curriculum, details on curriculum process and content [including duration and types of    educational experiences], specific student feedback, and consideration of outcomes assessment).  

Video: Culturally Competent Care Video Series

Concisely, in practice, cultural competence acknowledges and incorporates—at all levels—the importance of culture, the assessment of cross-cultural relations, the need to be aware of the dynamics resulting from cultural differences, the expansion of cultural knowledge, and the adaptation of services to meet culturally unique needs. Perhaps that is why it is very important in the modern globalization world.

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