Cultural Competency

As patient populations grow more diverse, physicians address the incorporation and application of sociocultural medicine in their repertoire as to integrate various strengths, perspectives and experiences of others in treating their patients. In doing so, a physician must be able to explain the concepts about disease and treatment to diverse populations in a variety of settings. Sensitivity to norms, morays and taboos are essential to respecting a person’s background, race, age, sex and ethnicity.1

Being able to provide assistance to any person regardless of their diversity is imperative in the role of a physician. This equates to taking into account a patient’s:

  • Ability.
  • Socioeconomic status.
  • Talents.
  • Language.
  • Religion.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Geographic region.
  • Life experiences.

However, interpretations are not assumed about a patient’s personal or social culture. In order to ascertain what values the patient has, a physician must ask them. The stated viewpoint is to be respected aside from whether they align with a physician’s own values or traditions.

Cultural Competency Defined:

Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, knowledge, attitudes and policies that come together in a system, organization, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. “Culture” refers to an integrated pattern of human behavior, which includes but is not limited to: thought, communication, languages, beliefs, values, practices, customs, courtesies, rituals, manners of interacting, roles, relationships and expected behaviors of a racial, ethnic, religious, social or political group; this also implies the ability to transmit the above to succeeding generations, making it dynamic in nature. “Competence” implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual or an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, practices and needs presented by patients and their communities.” The cultural competency topic is integrated and evaluated throughout the four year curriculum. Incorporating the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Tool for Assessing Cultural Competence Training (TACCT), the curriculum sessions are evaluated for culture competency training. The student will be assessed by the six domains of competence of the Educational Program Objectives specific to cultural and health linguistic competence.


Francisco Lucio, JD
Associate Dean, Diversity and Inclusion
Phone: 602-827-2790
Francisco Lucio, JD
Camellia Bellis, MEd
Education and Training Specialist, Diversity and Inclusion
Phone: 602-827-3107
Camellia Bellis


1. Tang T, Bozynski ME, Mitchell JM, Haftel HM, Vanston SA, Anderson RM. Are residents more comfortable than faculty members when addressing sociocultural diversity in medicine? Acad Med. 2003; 78:629–33