Cultural Competency Training – A Collaborative Project

Crystal Duran, MPH, MCHES

Crystal Duran, MPH, MCHES

Crystal Duran framed her session by noting that 25% of individuals choose not to seek care when sick or injured, and 76% of individuals don’t understand how the healthcare system works. For example, Rose doesn’t follow her treatment plan because she cannot read and is embarrassed to tell her doctor. Maria needs kidney dialysis treatments three times a week, but she doesn’t speak English and has trouble scheduling appointments. “These are the people we deal with every day, and it is a very confusing and frustrating system for patients to navigate themselves. That is why it is so important that patients can receive culturally competent care so that they better understand and can make informed decisions about their coverage and treatment plans.” 

Unfortunately, she said, not everyone in your workplace will feel the same way. “There are a lot of people internally who will think it’s the patient’s problem and they need to figure it out. Sadly, we want them to have access to preventive care and to be healthy, but there is unwillingness on the part of physicians to want to be trained in this area. Sometimes they don’t understand and they don’t want to understand. It can be a lose-lose.”

To combat internal opposition, she advised against calling it cultural competency training, but rather patient safety or equitable care training. “Cultural competency training tends to be a turn-off for doctors,” said Duran.

There are also models for training that have already been done, and it would be beneficial to “expand your literature, research, and partnerships as you acquire ideas on how to develop your trainings.” When you think about partners, some of you may be reluctant to reach out to your competitors. But in this field, insurance companies are willing to come together for these values and mission,” assured Duran. “Step out of your comfort zone and make some time to phone one of your competitors to see what they have been doing for cultural competency health literacy training. You’ll be surprised!”