Cultural Competence

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The American Academy of Family Physicians website defines cultural competence as: "A set of congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies that come together as a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. The word "culture" is used because it implies the integrated pattern of human thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group. The word competence is used because it implies having a capacity to function effectively." Campinha-Bacote constructed a model that depicts cultural competence into five different areas: cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural skill, cultural encounter, and cultural desire. When working as a healthcare professional, one needs to strive for cultural competence by mastering each of these areas.

To begin my journey on mastering each area of cultural competence, I need to first assess my placement in each of the five categories. A very important area is cultural awareness. This involves conducting self-examination of any biases that I may have towards a certain culture. I am guilty of having such biases. While I do not have many biases, it is important that I work through each one and realize that biases are not facts. I am a Caucasian female who grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. I attended a private school from kindergarten until my sophomore year of college. My school was not very diverse. Once I started working, I was able to meet a few more people of different cultures. All of my professions have been in the suburbs, and the majority of people have been Caucasian. Eastern Michigan University is very diverse. I am glad that I am finally able to experience such an environment.

Cultural knowledge is when a health care professional seeks information regarding different cultures and ethnic groups. They look at the differences that one...
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