Decoding Underlying Meanings of Cultural Competency in Medical Institutions: a Qualitative Case Study
Troutman, Kristin Elizabeth
The topic of cultural competency is a complex, often misunderstood tenant of medical education. Furthermore, because being culturally competent is central to providing patients with proper care, it is crucial for medical institutions to assess their means of cultural competency training and study their physicians’ beliefs about that training. This qualitative case study was conducted through eight interviews with physicians at an anonymized private medical institution in the United States South, Medical Center A. Ultimately, it was found that although it may not be explicitly taught in a formal training, physicians at MCA display an understanding of the intersectionality of cultural competency as well as the dangers of essentialization. Additionally, there may be latent values embedded in the skill of cultural competency producing a social hierarchy among physicians. Furthermore, it was revealed that the term "culture" in this institutional context may be code for racism and other systematic prejudices, acting as a "safe" word to discuss sensitive issues. This is perhaps due to the fact that because broader social values and cultural norms are so strong, the formal training can only touch upon a finite amount of issues.