Multicultural competence in medical education: Exploring the extent that racial identity, multicultural education, and multicultural experiences are associated with levels of multicultural competence among third year medical students
Sigeti, Ronald Joseph Michael
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Professional health care providers in today's increasingly global world are more and more required to interact with families whose race, culture, national origin, living circumstances, and family composition are different from their own. This happens almost daily in any public urban clinic in the U.S., where health care providers service multiethnic and multiracial populations. As the population of the U.S. changes, the student profile of U.S. medical schools is also changing. It has been mandated by medical accrediting agencies that the 4 year medical school curricula may benefit from an increase in multicultural competence. However, there is little research on multicultural competence in medical education to back this up. This study, focusing on medical students that have just completed their third year of medical school, explored the relationships between multicultural competence and racial identity, multicultural education and experiences, and demographic variables. A convenience sample of 178 third year medical students was solicited through medical school listservs from three medical schools within the northeastern part of the U.S.. Each participant completed three self-report instruments utilizing a web survey. Ex-post facto correlational design was employed and correlations and regression analyses were utilized to examine the possible relationships between the variables contemplated. Several important findings emerged from this study. First, race and identification with a socially marginalized group correlated significantly with multicultural competence. Second, racial identity was strongly related to multicultural competence, even when controlling for the influence of demographic variables. Third, multicultural education and multicultural experience contributed uniquely and significantly to multicultural competence. Fourth, the combination of racial identity, multicultural education, and multicultural experience significantly predicted multicultural competence scores. And finally, the research study provided evidence that more direct connections between multicultural competence research and practice may be needed. The implications of this study are discussed, focusing on medical students, assessment of multicultural competence within medical education, and ideas for future research. In sum, this research study contributes to the limited literature addressing multicultural competence in medical education.
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