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New Report Offers Recommendations for Educating More Culturally Competent Physicians and Public Health Practitioners


Washington, D.C., July 20, 2012—The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) and the ASPH (Association of Schools of Public Health) have released recommendations for training medical and public health students to become more culturally competent practitioners. The report, “Cultural Competence Education for Students in Medicine and Public Health,” offers guidance on the core cultural competencies at the nexus of medicine and public health, and for the first time highlights findings by educators in both disciplines on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes critical for addressing the health needs of an increasingly diverse American public. 

“The interdependence of medicine and public health is vital to improving health care and public health at the individual, community, and national levels,” said AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D. “The next generation of doctors and public health practitioners are being trained to ensure the delivery of appropriate, culturally competent clinical care and population health services and policies to serve a diverse population. This report is an invaluable resource for institutions as they educate and train tomorrow’s health professionals.” 

While some content published in the report can be found separately in the literature of medical education and public health, the recommendations bring together for the first time resources from both disciplines. 

“National health reform, coupled with the critical need for an integrated system of health promotion, disease prevention, and quality care for all, mandates a strong working relationship between experts in public health and medicine,” said Marla Gold, M.D., chair of the ASPH Diversity Committee and dean of the Drexel University School of Public Health. “One important avenue to the reduction of health disparities among our nation’s people is to ensure a culturally competent workforce. The competencies in this joint report represent a step forward in our efforts to synergize cultural competence education in both public health and medicine. This report also provides a solid framework for continued collaboration in producing high-quality graduates who will help ensure the public’s health and work diligently to eliminate health and health care disparities.” 

The comprehensive report features embedded links to background materials, supporting resources, and examples that can be adapted for instructional use by faculty in medical schools and graduate schools or programs of public health to standardize curricula, benchmark student performance, and prepare graduates to work in culturally competent practices. The learning objectives outlined in the report are organized by knowledge, skill, and attitude categories. Additionally, a guide mapping the medicine and public health cultural competencies to the general areas adopted by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education is included in the appendix. 

The AAMC and the ASPH have collaborated previously on other educational initiatives, yet this report marks the first time cultural competency education has been the focus. In spring 2011, the AAMC and the ASPH partnered with the other founding members of the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) to publish “Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice,” including the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA).

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The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association representing all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 128,000 faculty members, 75,000 medical students, and 110,000 resident physicians. Additional information about the AAMC and U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at www.aamc.org/newsroom

The Association of Schools of Public Health is the only organization representing the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)-accredited schools of public health and programs seeking accreditation.  ASPH promotes the efforts of schools of public health to improve the health of every person through education, research, and policy. Based upon the belief that “you’re only as healthy as the world you live in,” ASPH works with stakeholders to develop solutions to the most pressing health concerns and provides access to the ongoing initiatives of the schools of public health.