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Increase Behavioral Sciences, Emphasize Cultural Competency

The Pew Health Professions Commission (Healthy America: Practitioners for 2005) identified three core competencies health practitioners, including dentists, will need to practice in the 21st century. These core competencies can help faculty rethink curriculum and include.

  1. Care for the community’s health
  2. Participate in a racially and culturally diverse society
  3. Expand access to effective care

A Columbia University Medical Center committee – consisting of faculty from medicine, dentistry, public health, nursing, and social work, recently identified five goals for culturally and linguistically educated graduates:

  1. Self-awareness. This includes understanding one’s own personal cultural values and beliefs and their impact on health and health care delivery.
  2. Cross-cultural knowledge. This includes understanding how beliefs, cultures, and ethnic practices influence health behavior and health status.
  3. Language diversity. This addresses the need to provide or advocate for information, referrals, and services in the language appropriate to the patient as well as the interpreters, when needed.
  4. Competence to deliver. The ability to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate and competent services, programs, and interventions that meet the needs of the community of interest.
  5. Advocacy. The willingness to advocate for public policies that promote and support culturally and linguistically responsive services and the inclusion of representation and participation of individuals who reflect the diversity of our communities.

The Dental Pipeline schools have revised their curricula to link public health, the social and behavioral sciences, and cultural competency to well-designed practical experiences and service learning opportunities.


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