Since the inception of Curriculum 2000 in 1997, cultural competence and health care disparities have been addressed almost exclusively in Module 6 (Professionalism and Humanism), with substantive additions and improvements made over the past six years. In 2001, new required content referred to as Culture Matters, was added to Module 6 to address specific topics on cultural issues in health care and communications. Developed by Drs. Morrison, Johnson, Reyes, and Ms. Seng, Culture Matters was the first required content at the School of Medicine dedicated to examining cultural issues and disparities in health care. For three years (2001-2003), medical students have been introduced to the principles and practices of cultural competence through lectures, panels, and small group discussions, including most recently (fall 2003): Role of Culture in Health Care, Spirituality and Patient Care, Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Patient Care, and Linguistic Barriers to Health Care (See Appendix B: Culture Matters 2001-2003 Syllabi).
The past three year’s experience of teaching cultural concepts in isolation has led Dr. Morrison to explore alternative options with course directors and Dr. Paul Lanken (Module 6 leader) for integrating cross cultural education across the curriculum. In light of Curriculum 2000’s goal “to integrate content among disciplines and avoid the traditional approach of defining a scope and sequence of content for a specific course,” recent discussions have focused on where and how to incorporate cross cultural education across Modules 3, 4 and 6. In addition, in Module 5, an array of elective opportunities, both formal and informal that relate to cultural competence and health disparities currently are available and are listed in Appendix C. It is anticipated that better integration of culturally relevant materials--including presentations, panels, and small group discussions--across the pre-clinical courses and integration of culturally relevant materials into the required clinical curriculum, will achieve the intended goals of graduating students who are culturally competent. Of particular concern at the present time, there is no formal coverage of cultural issues and health disparities in Module 4 (Clinical Clerkships) and further discussion and details of these improvements will be presented in Phase 1 and 2 sections.